Arjan & Annet's Wedding, the Netherlands (16 April 2004)
Arjan and Annet, two friends of mine, were married in the Netherlands on 16 April 2004. I followed them throughout the day, from Vlaardingen, Lierop, where Annet's family live, to Kasteel Heeswijk, a Dutch castle which has to be one of the ultimate indoor wedding and reception destinations on earth.
|Kasteel Heeswijk from the air.|
While it may seem a little like cheating, putting friends' weddings in your professional portfolio, the fact is that I've only ever chosen to shoot friends' weddings because — let's face it — while there's grace there because you're not getting paid, you are focused and in extreme learning mode like on no other occasion because you want them to be happy with the results. It's the perfect academy.
After spending four years shooting violent clashes in the Palestinian West Bank as a photojournalist, shooting rites of passage like this wedding are a blessing. Non-intrusive, observational documentary photography, where your aim is to catch the raw spirit of life, is powerful in all contexts. But there is not a day that I wouldn't rather photograph people engaging in an act of love rather than an act of war. These days, I find myself drawn more and more towards shooting images of life and people, and cultural rites of passage, such as weddings, are amazing arenas where the light shines brightest.
|Arjan meets Annet in the door of her parents home. That once in a lifetime moment and the incredible reflection in the mirror made me want to capture the moment. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|Arjan's father greets a brother coming into the family home. The pride on his face is beautiful. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|"Can we go now?" That's what Annet's face is saying right now. And the angles of the roof on her home that framed her face were so damned Dutch (trust me I have the guidebook from Arjan), that I had to put it on her like a hat. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|At Kasteel Heeswijk, a moment of reflection before the ceremony began. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|The bride's mother, Diny Meeuws, reads a poem during the ceremony. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|It's a castle, so the chairs were all...um...old-school, with a smaller one for the bride, a larger one for the groom. It was like shooting Alice in Wonderland. Everyone should feel that their wedding day was both beautifully surreal and strangely off-balance, otherwise you just don't have as good a time. :-) (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|Proof! Arjan explained that the reason in Dutch weddings that the marriage certificate is profered before the parents of those being married is because "Dutch people don't believe it until they see it." This made me laugh a lot. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|One of the series of photos of the now-married couple exiting the church in the castle, to be showered with rose petals. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|Cake feeding. In the Netherlands, it's desert before dinner. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|In the reception, a sneak photograph captures the couple enjoying the moment. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|
|Immediately after the wedding, photos were quickly edited and broadcast via a multimedia projector on the wall of the reception catacombs. Everyone loves instant gratification on a day like this, especially the older guests who hadn't got the energy to dance. It was amazing to see people's joy and excitement over the images from a few hours ago, projected on the dome of the celebration room. (Photo: nigelparry.net)|