My daughter’s wedding on film

My daughter was married on 9 April and, of course, I had to take photos. The full gallery from the day is here: http://www.cariadus.com/sian-dom.

Now, it has to be said that I am primarily a seascape/landscape photographer; photographing people is not my forté, although I have done weddings on film before. But I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take photos at my daughter’s wedding, now could I?

I remember my cousin’s wedding back in the early 70s, his wife was given away by her brother, who walked down the aisle with an SLR slung casually over his shoulder. Could I do that? How about having a Hasselblad slung over my shoulder? Imagine the quiet, serene church and everybody jumping at the thunk of the Hassy shutter being fired. No, probably not the best choice for the church service…

I could have my Olympus XA in a jacket pocket, that’s probably the smallest camera I own and has a barely audible shutter. The lens has a maximum aperture of f2.8 though, and I wasn’t sure that that would be fast enough for a dimly lit church. In the end I settled on taking my Olympus 35DC and carrying it in my hand as I walked down the aisle. It’s so small probably no-one would notice cradled in my hand, and in any case they’d be looking at my daughter, not at me.

I was able to give the 35DC a trial run at the wedding rehearsal the day before the wedding itself. Although I’m a big fan of Tri-X I decided on Ilford XP2, partly because I’d run out of Tri-X and I have a 100ft bulk roll of XP2, and partly because of the very fine grain of XP2. XP2 is my standard go-to film for 35mm.

The rehearsal Olympus 35 DC, XP2

The rehearsal
Olympus 35 DC, XP2

For the day itself it was very hard to decide on which cameras to use. I didn’t want to use too many because that gets too complicated. In the end I decided on:
Olympus 35DC for the church ceremony, loaded with XP2
Hasselblad 503CX for the after ceremony shots, especially the couple shots, with Tri-X and Fuji Pro 400H
Contax G1 and 45mm with XP2 for everything else

I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t going to use any of my five Olympus OM cameras, but I thought the autofocus of the G1 would be useful for situations where I wanted to shoot quickly and not have to pause to focus. I also shot mostly black and white, figuring that there would be plenty of people shooting in colour, not least the official wedding photographer.

The photographer was Siân Owen, who I hadn’t met prior to the wedding day. My main aim when taking any photos at weddings is to stay out of the way of the official wedding photographer as much as possible. They have a difficult enough job to do without tripping over some slow film shooter. Unfortunately I’m not sure I was successful in that aim in this particular case, but I’ll come on to that later.

For most of the getting ready shots at our house I used the Contax G1. I shot sparingly because I didn’t want to get in the way – and of course I had to get ready myself, and I had things to organise. Wouldn’t be too good if daughter was late arriving at the church because Dad wasn’t ready in time!

Bridesmaids getting ready Contaxt G1, 45mm, XP2

Bridesmaids getting ready
Contaxt G1, 45mm, XP2

From getting in to the car up the end of the wedding ceremony the only camera I would have with me was the Olympus 35DC which, as I had thought, was perfect for the job. One thing about being father of the bride is that you get to take photos that the wedding photographer can’t take, such as in the car on the way to the wedding. This one might not be completely sharp but I was quite pleased with it bearing mind that it was taken in a moving car.

In the car on the way to the church Olympus 35DC, XP2

In the car on the way to the church
Olympus 35DC, XP2

There was a general ban on people taking photos during the ceremony itslef – apart from the wedding photographer. I think that exclusion should also have been for the father of the bride as well, but I only squeezed off a couple of shots, not wanting to set a bad example to everyone else! And of course, it was important to take in the occasion rather than get distracted by taking photos.

In the church Olympus 35DC, XP2

In the church
Olympus 35DC, XP2

After the service it was back to the G1 for quick grab shots like this one.

Brotherly-sisterly love. My son and daughter after the ceremony

Brotherly-sisterly love. My son and daughter after the ceremony

And then it was on to the couple shots with my Hasselblad. I’ve done this at three weddings now and it is always difficult keeping up with a digital photographer when I’m using my all manual Hasselblad. Quite often, by the time I’ve lined up the shot and focussed they are moving on to the next shot. And sometimes it’s very hard to stay out of the way. Siân Owen is obviously used to working very quickly indeed and it was hard not only to keep up, but to avoid getting in her way or even staying out of her shots. I hope I succeeded in the latter, even if I didn’t always succeed in the former. Anyway, some shots from the Hasselblad.

In the Physic Garden, Cowbridge Hasselblad 503CX, 80mm, Tri-X

In the Physic Garden, Cowbridge
Hasselblad 503CX, 80mm, Tri-X

In the Old Hall, Cowbridge Hasselblad 503CX, 80mm, Tri-X

In the Old Hall, Cowbridge
Hasselblad 503CX, 80mm, Tri-X

Hasselblad 503CX, 80mm, Fuji Pro 400H

Hasselblad 503CX, 80mm, Fuji Pro 400H

Hasselblad 503CX, 80mm, Fuji Pro 400H

Hasselblad 503CX, 80mm, Fuji Pro 400H

And then it was back to the G1 again afterwards.

The mother of the bride Olympus 35DC, XP2

The mother of the bride
Contax G1, XP2

At the wedding reception I provided a Fuji Instax 300 wide and each table were provided with a pack of film so they could take photos of each other. That went down well, I think people enjoyed it, and we got some great photos from that. Each table also had a disposable camera which wasn’t quite so successful. Many of the photos that people took with the disposables were way underexposed because they didn’t use the flash. If I was doing it again I’d encourage people to turn the flash on when using the disposables. We did get some good photos from those who did use the flash, though.

Anyway, all in all a very successful and enjoyable day. As previously mentioned, the full album is here: http://www.cariadus.com/sian-dom

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About cariadus

Photography addict. Film shooter.

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