It’s quite apt that I’m on the road as I write this post – I’m currently in Perth shooting my final wedding of the year tomorrow. Kellie and Din (tomorrow’s couple) are coming to pick me up in a few hours and they’re going to show me around the place and while I’m waiting for them, I wanted to reflect on what has been one of the most tumultuous years in my life.
It all started with me in Sri Lanka marrying the most amazing and wonderful woman in the world followed by moving 2000 km south from Brisbane to Melbourne and embarking the bravest thing I still think I’ve ever accomplished – putting aside my science career to become a full time photographer. The last 12 months have had a lot of ups (and just as many downs) but things are good and I’m happy. If you had told me a year ago that within the next 12 months, I’d have shot weddings in India and the USA and taken bookings for weddings all around Australia as well as Sweden, The Netherlands and Greece, I would have laughed. But that’s the reality that I am so humbly fortunate to be experiencing. I love working and doing what I do every day, it’s freedom I’ve never experienced before and I’m relishing it.
The biggest highlight for me probably was the Milky Way wedding photo, the one that made the UK’s Daily Mail ask whether it was the best wedding photo ever taken. As I mentioned at the time, I put my two loves together (science and photography) and it was something I got to experience together with Kristen (who helped 2nd shoot for me that day) and also Warren and Shirley who are now lifelong friends.
Speaking of friends, one of the most rewarding things about what I do is getting the opportunity to meet and work with wonderful couples (and friends and families). I’ve made some amazing friends in the last 12 months and this is something I don’t take for granted. It’s these individuals who offer me drinks, chat to me and treat me like I’m a guest that help me get through those final 4-6 hours when I’ve already been on my feet for the last 10. You lot make it all worthwhile (and easy).
Kristen and I are off to Sri Lanka for a couple of weeks and we’re both going to enjoy some time sitting around and spending time with our family there. We’ll come back a little more tanned, most likely a few kg heavier and enthusiastic about what 2013 has to offer.
In the meantime, I’ve put together a selection of my favourite photos from the last year (in no particular order). I hope all of you out there enjoy looking at these images and that you have a wonderful and safe break over the holiday season. See you in 2013, there’s lots of exciting things to photograph and tell you about!
When Jules and I first met, it was 1993 – we started out at the same high school in Wollongong. We didn’t really hang out in the same circles nor could you even describe us as friends and I honestly don’t remember ever really hanging out or even talking to her at any point during our 6 years at Smiths Hill High. And being the awkward young man I was, I guess I’d developed opinions on who the cool kids in the grade were (it sure wasn’t my group of friends) and I think Jules was lumped in to there (even though she now ever denies they were the cool kids!). But things changed a few years later; Jules worked in the local music store in Wollongong and I’d be in there pretty much every 2nd week checking out the new guitars, amps and pedals. Or more usually, to buy replacement strings for one’s I’d broken while rocking out just a little too hard. And what I remember from this time was that Jules was really down to earth, normal and completely friendly. She even hooked me up with discounts for nearly everything I bought. I realised that I might have made an error in judgement when it came to her – I started thinking she was alright. Over the next few years, as my musical purchases decreased, we fell out of touch and I didn’t hear back from her until our 10 year reunion in 2008. Getting a chance to talk to her and all of the other people I’d gone to school with but had never really become friends with made me realise that I’d had things completely the wrong way around. It’s not that everyone else was unfriendly, it’s just that *we* were awkward and never really made an effort to get to know anyone. But maybe that’s normal when you’re in high school, but as an adult, it seems just a little silly. I guess all of my ideas about these people were misguided because at the end of the day, I think we were all just normal high school kids. Time has a weird way of making you gain some perspective.
About 6 months ago, Jules shared one of my images on FB and mentioned that she was so damn excited that I would be her and Iain’s photographer. That little gesture in a period of really huge change for me from science to full time photography was actually far more significant than Jules could have imagined. It gave me confidence knowing that someone else trusted me, and not only that, they actually looked forward to having me around photographing for them – it’s a feeling I honestly can’t get enough of. Another few months passed and Jules happily mentioned that she was pregnant and it made me think about something. We’re not kids anymore, we’re grown up and we all have our own lives and experiences. We should know what we want in life and how to get it, but I fear a lot of us don’t. But having spent a day with Iain and Jules it was obvious, connecting with other people and having relationships with them are at the core to our existence as a human beings; money, success and recognition mean nothing if there’s no one else around you to love you, relate to you and be supportive of you. Spending time with them was a nice reset to my life and expectations about people and friendships.
A lot has changed for me since 1993 and it was a great experience to go back a little in time and talk, relate and catch up with people from my childhood. It was my chance to reassess what I’d always thought about myself (and other people). It was an opportunity to re-do the things that I had mucked up the first time around.
Where do I start with this wedding? Well I guess we can go right back to the beginning.
In 2007, there was a French exchange student who was in Wollongong, Australia studying for his Masters in Medical Radiation Physics. I was doing my PhD at the time and because everyone I was studying with was pretty friendly, I ended up meeting this Frenchman whose name was Nicolas. Since we already had a friend called Nick, Nicolas became known as Nico, French Nick or the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey Nick. He had a great sense of humour and warmth and we became friends. I looked through my archives and found these two photos of Nico and I think it was on the day these photos were taken that he said “Lucky, when I get married one day, I’m going to hire you to photograph it.” It doesn’t sound like a big deal considering I’m a wedding photographer now but you need to remember I’d owned a camera for about 6 months by this point and as these images show, I wasn’t really that good. But Nico apparently saw something in me that I didn’t.
Fast forward 5 years, Nico lives and works in Boston, USA with his partner Stephanie. We hadn’t spoken for 3 or 4 years and one day I receive an email from Nico saying, “Guess what? I’m getting married and I haven’t forgotten what I said to you.”
So that’s how I ended up in the middle of Texas photographing a wedding for a Frenchman and his beautiful southern American belle.
This was my 4th visit to the USA and probably the most eventful. Kristen and I were stranded in NYC after Hurricane Sandy and almost didn’t make it to Texas in time; La Guardia Airport’s runway was damaged from the hurricane storm surge and we desperately changed our flights to leave from Philadelphia (which included a very nervous 2 hours behind the wheel of a left hand drive rental Mustang – incidentally the only hire car that was available due to the exodus from NYC following the hurricane). But I admit we were better off than Nico and Steph who had driven 10 hours overnight from Boston to Cleveland to catch their rearranged flight. But thankfully, we all made it through.
We met up with Nico and Steph on the Saturday morning in the small town of Leander about an hour from Austin, it was rehearsal day. Even though Nico and I hadn’t seen each other for 5 years, the jokes flowed, the laughs were free, the funny face pulling was out in force and it was as if nothing had ever changed. And getting to know Steph was just like being with Nico, she’s just a quieter version. But the warmth and kindness was there to see and I could see so very easily why these two people loved each other. We enjoyed catching up during the wine tasting session that Nico and Steph had organised following the rehearsal and even though Texas wine makers probably have a little work to do, it was a great way to spend an afternoon with old and new friends.
This is a mammoth post of images but I feel like I need to tell the story properly. Nico and Steph poured their hearts and souls into organising this wedding on the other side of the country to where they lived and their families and friends came from all around the world to share in their celebration. A pair of excited photographers from Australia were allowed a glimpse into another life for just a few days and the adventure we shared in is worthy of telling the world about.