There’s a really interesting and often frustrating tension in photography in general, and wedding photography in particular. It has to do with that face you make when the camera is aimed at you. It’s that smile we make that when we’re pretending that somebody’s joke is funny. When I was young my mom brought us to Sears for family portraits and the well-meaning photographer would tell us where to sit, how to tilt our heads, where to put our hands, even our fingers, and then asked us to smile (“no no no, keep looking over there and smile. Ok, but not like that, less teeth please”). It was a crick in the neck and it produced a photo that sort of looks like us, except that it’s not how we ever sit, and the elements of our faces are arranged in some unnatural smiley way that looks like the gassy, spaced-out cousin of happiness. Most of us have been there and I think we all, as a culture, decided that the portraiture in general was lame and that we all favoured candid moments instead, provided that they were done artistically. This, by the way, is what is meant by “photojournalistic” photography. No poses please, just awesome photographs of awesome us. Of course, many problems arise. One problem is that as soon as a big fat camera is even remotely angled in our direction, we suck in our gut, exchange our hangry, resting-bitch-face for something more pleasant, and we squirm in self-consciousness. We all just obey, to some degree, our inner Sears-photographer’s commands. Which is a bit sad you know, to think that we’re somehow unworthy of being photographed unless we have all of our ducks in a row in terms of appearances. On the other hand, it totally makes sense to want to look our best, to not want that photo posted online when we’re mid-sneeze with a string of phlegm and lunch exiting our nose and nose at break-neck speed. The instinct to delete that photo and pretend that one’s face NEVER looks like that is understandable. That’s the tension of photography. We want the photo to be of us, our authentic selves, our most polished, groomed, best-dressed selves in our most pleasant mood, in fantastic light, situated accidentally in a very slimming pose, when we happen to be doing something really awesome and looking totally cool while we do it. THAT is the authentic self we want captured. All the better if it’s a good hair day too.
It’s a dilemma. We want photos to be not contrived, and we want to look “perfect”. As photographers, our (Topher & Rae’s) solution to this problem is to take as many photos as possible so that we can delete the sneezes and awkward blinks, and so that you can start to ignore us and actually be yourself in front of the camera, and we intervene as little as possible. If we’re doing portraiture, for example, we might as you to direct your gaze toward the light because we want to be able to see your face.
But why am I yacking on and on about this? Well, it’s because there’s this thing called “ugly girl cry”. I think the opposite to “ugly girl cry” is “single tear”. “Single tear” is when your face is held in decent composure but a single tear quietly exists the eye and gracefully slides down the cheek like an elegant swan drifting through a tranquil pond. Photographers have won awards for photographing the “single tear” shot. “Ugly girl cry” is that face you make when you’re internally exploding with mixed, lively emotions, tears are being ejected from the eyeballs like shrapnel, and your face is unmistakably in the grips of something powerful. (Note: I laugh at the term “ugly girl cry”, but I don’t agree with it. Men can do it, and I think there’s something very beautiful about it, and certainly it is moving). So Elisha, the bride in this blog, was self-conscious about her “ugly girl cry”, and even practiced “pretty girl cry”. She had plenty of opportunity for practice too. The number of times she cried was in the 80’s (people counted because there were bets made on how often she would cry). She’s a crier. When I heard about all this, I made it my mission to capture at least one “ugly girl cry” moment because I thought it would be a total shame if I didn’t capture this very BEAUTIFUL, AUTHENTIC and ALIVE aspect of her on her wedding day. And so I did, and for me, the photo is a visual reminder for me to capture what is ALIVE in people.
Enough of my blah blah. This is Mike and Elisha’s wedding. These two are genuine and were a pleasure to work with. The collection of photos is one of my faves. Hope you enjoy some of the images that came from their magical day.
Venue: Liscombe Lodge
Photography: Topher & Rae Studios
Hair: Janine Bernard at Bliss Hair Boutique
Make up: Becky Holley at Bliss Hair Boutique
Gown: Bridal Vision
Men’s Attire: Moore’s