#3 - Twirling bride

I considered calling this story "My oldest favourite wedding photo" because this photograph will shortly be 5 years old, and there are very few wedding photos that I took 5 years ago that maintain a place in my all time favourites list. This firmly stays in there, however. Truth be told, that may be as much because of how the photo was captured as it is for the aesthetics of the picture, but purely as an image I have to say even if I detach myself from the back story, I do quite like it. You, naturally, are well within your rights to disagree, but on the off chance that the back story may sway you around to my way of thinking if you're not a fan of the shot at first glance, let me tell you it.

The groom is a school friend of mine - he lives in England now with his wife, aka the bride in this shot. I was at the wedding as a guest. Five years ago I was photographing weddings on a professional basis, but hadn't been doing so for very long, and while in recent times I tend to double job as guest and official photographer at friends' weddings, back then I was more likely to be attending only as a guest. Which suited me (and my wife!) just fine. In an attempt to remain just a guest, I had limited my camera gear to a single camera and a single lens. The camera, for those interested, was a Nikon D700 - since retired - which was very capable in low light. That's relevant. The lens was a 50mm I think (but I can't be certain without pulling the RAW file from the archive), but it's not so important. The point being: I had no flash with me.

You can hopefully appreciate now the relevance of the D700's low light capabilities - it allowed me leave the flash at home, even though I knew, of course, that in early February the day would get dark quickly. But not lugging a hotshoe flash on top of my camera was more in line with the idea of being "just" a guest and enjoying the day as any other guest. For the record, this photo is at ISO 6400. Photographers out there will appreciate that it was, therefore, quite dark.

The venue was Castlemartyr Hotel in East Cork, and a feature of the function room is the colour you see on the curtains behind the dance floor - I think it's one of those rooms where you can have any colour you want on the walls but, fortuitously, the walls were being lit blue when I pressed the shutter to make this exposure during the bride and groom's first dance. Why fortuitously? Because the blues and browns work well together, and offset the dress nicely. But that wasn't the most fortuitous thing about the photo. No, that would be the flash from another guest's camera which popped just as I took this frame. The guest was off to my right and one of a few dozen taking photos, and he or she happened to hit the shutter at the same time as me, and happened to fire just enough flash power, and all of this happened to take place as the bride extended her arms, with a great happy expression on her face, mid-twirl, while her groom happened to be looking at her admiringly. OK, he probably spent the whole day looking at her admiringly!

All things considered, you couldn't create this photo and the moment it captures if you tried. And photos like that are, without fail, the best photographs.

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