Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Here Comes the Bride (so why isn't my flash going off?!?!)

Ah, the wonderful world of wedding photography...

Last weekend, Chad and I had the privilege of photographing the wedding of some friends of ours. While the day dawned bright and beautiful, the not so beautiful side effect was the fact that the temperature soared into the nineties in a country where air conditioning is NOT a given. As camera-stalking melting people who had to get dressed up despite the heat and humidity makes this job a labor of love, it's a good thing Chad loves doing it as much as he does.

And now, a commentary on wedding photography in general, from someone who has spent a little time in the trenches:

If you peruse most photographers' wedding website galleries, what you'll find highly under-represented are the obligatory formal portraits that are feared and loathed by both the photographer and photographees.

On the one hand you have the wedding party and families, who honestly don't want to stand for hours with frozen smiles while you take essentially the same picture endless times, yet can't pass up the opportunity to get a family photo with everyone gathered and (mostly) nicely dressed for the first time in 10 years. Then you have the poor photographer who really can't do much with the bulk of them creatively to make them more than just a record of who was there on the day - all while trying to achieve the impossible job of making everyone look good at once.

The reason this is such a herculean task is that the average person has no idea how to be photographed well. Really, it's quite shocking. You'd be amazed at the little things that they do: standing practically hunched over, refusing to adopt even a remotely pleasant expression, forgetting to put down random objects they're holding, and even chronically NOT LOOKING AT THE CAMERA (?!?!). My primary job as photographer's assistant is to try to counteract this phenomenon as much as possible, but even then, to harp on it until everyone in the shot is presentable means it would take three times as long, and they might possibly assassinate me out of hunger and boredom.

The wedding this weekend was not even full of especially difficult characters, and went off quite well - it's just the nature of the wedding beast.

That said, we had a wonderful time capturing the highlights of two people celebrating their love and commitment to each other, and can't wait to do it all again in late May! Unfortunately in that instance, I'll have to scale back my responsibilities - being on your feet for 9 hours when you're 8 months pregnant is for masochists only. Should also be good times trying to find a flattering dress for the event when you're as big as a house!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Silly Season

...the Kiwi term for the holidays.

Well the end of the year was a gas, and about 100 miles an hour at times. Starting in late November, I was tasked with developing and writing the Christmas program for church, all to be completed amidst our frantic preparations for overseas guests. I was a little terrified at first, as dialogue is not something I've ever remotely attempted. The bulk of it was done with Chad and I playing news anchors for Surfside World Report, calling ourselves Charity Churchmouse and Evan Baxter (of Bruce Almighty & Evan Almighty movie fame). We reported on the various signs of the impending birth of Jesus in modern-day format, incorporating an astronomer, three foreign dignitaries (magi/wise men), and some (modern Kiwi) shepherds. It ended up being a lot of fun, as well as well received, so that was gratifying.

A few weeks later some of Chad's family (Dad, Mum, Jill, & Megan) popped by for a couple of weeks just before Christmas (thanks again to Jeff & Teri who held down the Sachse fort all by themselves so they could come!). Last year, after an unexpected and very soggy midwinter move, we happened into the big ol' house we're currently renting, so we were all pretty spaciously accommodated, despite all using the same shower - a big hot water heater helped.

We dragged them around to meet all of our NZ friends and family, who were delighted to meet them, and got to show off a little why were STILL here over a year longer than originally planned. The local beach was a great favorite, where continual surfing lessons by the Chad yielded some impressive newly acquired wave-riding skills by Jill & Megan.

Then it was off to the Coromandel Peninsula, an area of peaceful beach communities and rough roads (most of which have only been paved within the last decade). While dragging six of us and a 15-foot camper over a small mountain range, Pedro, our (mostly) trusty 18 year-old SUV blew a radiator hose, and we ended up eating lunch in the camper on the side of the road while Chad called in reinforcements to rescue us. A couple of his professional connections cheerfully came and picked us up, depositing us on the beach in scenic Pauanui to play the afternoon away while Chad snagged the necessary part and put Pedro together again. Which, by the way, is SOOOO attractive in a man ;)

One day was spent on a hike that took us through 500 yards or so of an abandoned mine shaft, that's now maintained by the Department of Conservation. We were all a little claustrophobic at the thought, but it turned out to be quite manageable and fun, as the conditions were perfect for glowworms, who sat glowing merrily just over our heads the whole way.

We also spent a day in the Cathedral Cove area, made recently famous by standing in as the gateway to Narnia in the Prince Caspian movie. We did a bit of snorkeling before lunch in Gemstone Bay, then filled our tummies and continued on to the featured attraction. The Cove is definitely more beautiful in person, if only because you know you have the thrill of actually being there. The afternoon was very fine, so the vivid golds, blues, and greens all around us did nothing to spoil the atmosphere.

We all had a great time and were sad to see them go. Pictures of the bulk of our adventures can be seen at: http://picasaweb.google.com/chad.lehmann

In order to keep us from being sad & lonely without our family on Christmas, we were invited to a round of Christmas Adam (called so because it comes before Christmas Eve- duh!), Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day celebrations. We were grateful to feel so loved and included, but dashing hither and yon for 48 hours after just getting back from the airport, we were knackered by 3 pm on Christmas Day! Christmas night was spent snarfing leftovers and watching Home Alone 2 on T.V. - very Norman Rockwell :)