Once upon a time, I couldn’t have imagined myself discovering a true passion in wedding photography. Way back then (in the late 70’s) I found myself running my own business but parallel learning the secrets behind creating the best possible black and white shots. With my Canon A1 and Mamiya full format – and of course before Photoshop was even a twinkling idea, one truly had to discover the filigree of a photographer’s instinct, taking one picture after the other, and developing and printing them with intense feeling and precision. Yes, I secretly pursued my adolescent dream of becoming an artist… Who would have thought that this practice helped me many years later to relive this art, by creating the perfect black and white images at weddings? I want to take you with me on the more recent part of this journey and demonstrate to you my three favourite black and white shots of 2016. This is the tale of ‘The Ones that almost got away’.
seeking cinderella’s glass shoe
While shooting a wedding, I am often looking for a story, and some element of juxtaposition – the synergy of two different elements of the same image. Although at a wedding one tries to capture the happiness and the punchy story, the drama and the tears, I always keep an eye out for the gloomy and quirky possibilities surprises. And that inspired me to do this shot of Judith.
We were at the Magazin in der Heeresbäckerei in Berlin, a very bright, wonderful old converted factory location and perfect for any kind of urban wedding. But then I stumbled upon these unrenovated and dark stairs leading somewhere unknown. Indeed a rather dark, unusual corner, seconds away from the loud hustle bustle and part, to take a picture. But in my mind, I had already that image prepared and just by chance the lovely Judith passed me by. I asked her if she would kindly remove her shoes and just run upstairs – she did, without hesitation or any further explanation of what I was intending. She just followed my suggestion, and in the moment I released the shutter, I instinctively knew this would be this wedding’s signature shot. I’m in love with that shot, it was like she read my mind and we worked instinctively together. She simply came down the stairs with her huge smile, put on her shoes again and left to celebrate her glorious day. I couldn’t help but stand there and stare at our digital outcome for a few minutes. There it was – my faritale image. Thank you, Cinderella. Thank you for sharing this memory with me.
The second tale I’d like to share with you happened on a beautiful summer day in one of the nicest wedding registry offices in Berlin, in Schöneberg. But on an overly bright and hot summer day is actually not the most helpful to a photographer. Every object, every being and every face are often cast with dark shadows – making it very hard to work with without a flash (I find flash so intrusive!). But if it weren’t for exactly those shadows, this amazing shot would have probably never materialised.
This is the story of Louise’s mesmerizing smile. Only half way through the wedding day, and I thought of really using this underground feeling that the U-Bahn station offered. It took me back immediately to my days in New York. Both of them went ahead of me, to check when the next train would come. The shot that we were actually going for was to catch the both of them, while this bright yellow train in the background would fly by – which incidentally we got as well!. But there it was all of a sudden - that glance of a moment for the perfect shot. As Martin descended into the darkness, all that was left to see was Louise in her wedding dress. I called her name and of course she would turn around, with that stunning yet sweet smile. Within a fracture of a second we created the indefectible shot of her wedding. If she would have headed home, that’s how it would have looked. Only she was not leaving her special day just yet. It was only the beginning of more great memories to capture.
a bit of shakespeare
The last tale I want to tell ,relates to an image I shot as Susa’s and Steffen’s wedding, in a little known village outside of Berlin. Their special day took place on the shore of the beautiful Wannsee Lake in Caputh – famous amongst others for being where Einstein once lived. It’s also famous for a delightful fairy tale castle, like a princess’ dollhouse my kids might play with. This should be the perfect playground for a lovely couple shot.
However, in the beginning they weren’t really keen on my idea of doing this kind of couple shoot, and understandably wanted to spend time with their family and friends. Luckily for us all though, Susa’s maid of honour did a great job of talking her into giving it a go. As is now becoming clearer – I was developing a thing for this Cingerella theme. I love everything about it. The romantic image of two lovers finding each other, before circumstances tear them apart, just for the prince to continue on his quest to find his one true love. Susa immediately knew the picture I had in my mind, whereas Steffen just didn’t know what to do with himself. I suggested that he goes for any kind of pose he might feel in that very moment – what I got I honestly hadn’t expected…
This image as you can see is not the one a photographer would normally take at a wedding, where it is all about the bride, the groom and bouquets of flowers. When I had a closer look at home I was immediately drawn by Steffen’s position – which to me looks like a villain rather then a groom. What I saw in this picture was the re-enactment of our beloved Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette. The twisted plot that the groom played the part of Capulet, the patriarch, who did not allow Juliette, to go after her soul mate. I find this amusing and I was so very glad we went for this unusual shot. I was finally able to add Romeo and Juliette to my book of stories.
One thing those lovely brides share in common that I adore about them a lot; they have this certain aura around them, a certain cheekiness in their smiles and the happiness that they exude. Just like me, they like going on the edge and being spontaneous, without knowing what the outcome might be. But that keeps the life of a photographer and his models exciting. At this point, I want to heartily thank all of them for sharing these memories and experiences with me and hope to continue this journey in 2017. I know many more fairy tales will follow.