What started out as a random room assignment seven years ago at NYU led me to Houston, Texas this past June to bare witness to the wedded bliss of Nick and Nora. Since I was unsure of what a good wedding gift would be, I decided to play wedding photographer and crossed my fingers in hopes of getting “the shot” that captures the happiness of the day.
One of my best friends from college was also one of my most random. Nora and I were assigned to our dorm room and lucky for us, we became real friends. The first film camera I ever really shot with was her Grandfather’s old Canon that she had on display in our apartment and she was always a willing subject for photographs. So when I got her save the date it was a no-brainer that I would be making the 1,419mile trip from New York down to Houston to see my friend getting married.
In the weeks leading up to the big day I had all my plans set except that I had no idea what would be a great wedding gift. Of course they had a gift registry but nothing on the lists of glassware, dinnerware, and sheet sets seemed like the right gift. Thankfully I talked to Nora and she expressed some dissatisfaction with her engagement photos. Unfortunately they were the type of event photography that is digital and has the air of being forced to look natural. Knowing her visual taste, I thought that a unique gift would be to document her wedding on film and hope to get “the shot”.
Armed with my Canon Av-1 and my trusty Kodak Tri-X 400 film I was on a mission to get something good. It was an evening wedding in a little chapel that had large stained glass windows allowing some extra light inside. The ceremony was sweet and concise. I took a few pictures at the church but I was really looking forward to the reception to capture the newlyweds in action.
One of the big moments in all receptions is the introduction of the bride and groom as they step out to have their first dance. I had heard rumors that Nick and Nora (yes, really Nick and Nora, just like the book/movie) had taken a few dance lessons but was not expecting the deftness in which they moved. They were waltzing, spinning, and twirling all around the dance floor while the band played “It Takes Two” from the musical Hairspray. Between the low light and movement it was hard to focus but I think got what I was looking for.
It was an amazing time catching up with old friends, dancing the night away, and celebrating Nick and Nora. Topped off with an amazing carrot cake with the unusual topper of a little deer and rabbit, the wedding came to a close. I hoped I got something that reflected the joy of the wedding, but sometimes it is hard to be certain.
Shooting film at a once in a lifetime event is daunting. In a photographic world of instant gratification and assurance I can easily see why people shoot digital. You instantly know what is going on and can shoot hundreds, even thousands of images because digital has that capacity. But I have to say, there is nothing like opening up your envelope of prints and seeing the elusive “the shot” and knowing that you got that on just a roll of 36.