Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Love To Remember

Jacques and Priscilla
Wedding, October 2014

Letters, handwritten, sit on the counter-top, waiting to be delivered. One for him and one for her. They're filled with thoughts, hopes, dreams and promises. "My love," Priscilla's written in the one meant for Jacques, "I will see you at the altar in just a few short hours." It's signed: "Your Wife To Be", while hers is signed "Your Future Husband". The future is not far off.

Clouds hang low over Grahamstown, making idle threats of rain which we hope they have no intention of following through with. Rain on your wedding day may be good luck, but few people wish for a wet wedding dress on their big day! Still, the two of them are unfazed by the weather as the final preparations get underway. Suits are ironed, dresses tied and jewellery gently placed as the hours fly by, until it is time to go to the chapel. As Priscilla walks through the doorway, all stress, all nerves subside and, as she reaches the end of the aisle and takes her place by Jacques side, it's easy to read the wide smile and shared glances. She's home.

It's a day for celebration, of family, of friends, and of the love that they all share for the happy couple. The clouds relent to let a bit of sunshine through, and Jacques and Priscilla take advantage of it to have their group photographs taken in the beautiful chapel garden before we make our way with the bridesmaids and groomsmen to the veld outside of their reception venue.

"We love long grass," Priscilla had said when we were discussing where their couple photos would be taken, and I can see why. The tall grass studded with fallen branches from trees no longer standing and the abandoned building that surrounds the field makes it feel like the group has stepped outside of time, the only suggestion of the army base that they're standing in being the towers that dot the distance. It's a time for fun and laughter as the bridal party climb onto a branch here, fan out in all directions there, hide their faces from the kissing couple and celebrate the love that they see before them, all finished off by the boys racing down the road.

The crowds fade, and it's just the two of them left, almost alone together for the first time all day. They hold each other close, her whispering into his ear sweet nothings that make him giggle, and their fun side comes out as they walk together, joke together and laugh together until the clouds finally break and the rain starts coming down, slowly at first but with determination. They run under the reception venue's awning, and there they kick off their shoes and practice their first dance with the rain pattering down on all sides.

The speeches are filled with tears and laughter, memories of times gone past and of those who can't be here mingling with hopes and wishes for the future - threads of anecdotes from the two families joining together to create the couple's story. As the speeches fade, the voices are replaced by music and laughter and dancing. Couples young and old take to the floor, as do friends, mothers and daughters, complete strangers before tonight, and then Priscilla and Jacques, to a round of applause, perform their first dance. And it is a performance, graceful and sweet, filled with twirls and turns and dips and met with ooh's and aah's from the crowd.

"Love," as one of Priscilla's favourite Bible passage says, "does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." And when love is shared, it does not need to. Their day has been filled with love for each other and for their friends and family, and as I head home late into the evening, it is love that sticks with me. Thank you to the beautiful couple for letting me be a part of their day, and to my wonderful second shooter, Sara Long!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Coming Home...

Jacques and Priscilla

"What should we do?" Priscilla asks as we arrive at the railway lines.
She's nervous, but hiding it well. If I hadn't met them before, I wouldn't have suspected. But I have, so I know that her quiet demeanour is just a mask for her nerves at being in front of the camera.
"Do what you always do," I tell them. "Be yourselves."

And slowly, but surely, it happens. The nerves fade as Jacques takes her hand and they walk together, talking, laughing, and trying their best to forget that I'm there. Which is perfect for me - as I tell them, "I want to capture the way that you are when you're together." As their focus shifts from me to each other, I can see their poses adjust into comfortable familiarity. Priscilla smiles at first and then laughs at Jacques' jokes, and his soft voice is joined by a wide grin, which is echoed in her smile and her eyes.

The railway lines that I've chosen to start off their engagement shoot are more than just a pretty backdrop - they're a part of their story, a symbol of the journey that led them to this point, and it hasn't been a short one. It's spanned George and Cape Town, and now Grahamstown, and it's just the start of their journey together. But, Grahamstown is a beautiful place to start a life together, and to show them that, I take them to my favourite part of town, just as the fog is rolling in.

The two of them lean into each other as they sit in the long grass looking at the spectacular view of the town at sunset before it disappears into the all-encompassing fog. This is where they are for now, and who knows how long they'll stay, but just looking at them I know that wherever they are, as long as they're together, they'll be home.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Traveler

The Traveler
A Fictional Account of a Sunrise Photo Shoot
With Amy Caroline Goodenough

There is something wonderful about the world at 5am. Before the sun has touched the horizon, long after the night has ended but before the morning has begun, the tip-tapping of heels and crunching of gravel beneath my feet acts as my anthem. It is as relentless as the humming of the insects that rise to greet the morning as I do, and about as voluntary. My legs move on without my mind – it’s left to wander cities and streets of memories as my muscles move me ever forward.

Sometimes there are lights that guide me, other times the darkness is my sole companion. A car will occasionally race by, blinding me, taking advantage of the empty road in a way that I can appreciate, the lingering scents of petrol and burnt rubber the only impressions that they leave. I breathe in the aromas as they blend into the still cool air and hold them in my lungs, a reminder of civilisation.

I will wander roads for days at a time, never conscious of the direction in which I’m heading, never knowing where my feet will lead me next. The world is my roadmap, the flora and fauna its markings as well as my shelter. I carry little with me but memories that weigh me down and keep me grounded.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fire Binds (Culture of Colour - Part Two)

Asha and Dharmesh

"I thought I'd be more nervous," Asha says, smiling as she stands before me, draped from head to toe in jewels that make up the most beautiful dress I think I have ever seen in my lifetime, "but I just feel normal." The day has arrived, a day that has taken weeks and months of planning, and her excitement is infectious.

The day itself passes in the blink of an eye, a blur of colour and laughter that will be remembered for years to come, not only by the couple but by all the guests in attendance. It's one of those weddings that becomes the talk of the town and the one that future weddings will strive towards. And what made it truly incredible was the couple themselves - their calmness under the overwhelming stress of the day which came from the knowledge that, once it was over, they would be able to go home to one another.

I usually have a way with words, but today words fail me as I look back on this beautiful Indian wedding. I think that the photographs, in this instance, speak for themselves. Enjoy!