Monday, April 18, 2016

A Halloween Wedding in the Theme of Pokémon

I know what you might be thinking? What in the world do costumes, Halloween, a wedding and a popular game named Pokémon have to do with the ceremony of matrimony? My answer is "who cares?".  I think that people should be able to do whatever floats their boat on their wedding day.

I had to research Pokémon and here is all you need to know from the Pokémon Wiki: "Pokémon is a multi-media franchise that's owned and developed by the major Japanese games manufacturer, Nintendo. It is second only to the company's Mario Brothers franchise in terms of profitability — making it the world's second most lucrative video game franchise. Pokémon gets its fan base hooked on creature collection — to complete what's called the Pokédex — in order to achieve various goals and to improve their combat abilities. The franchise exists as several video games, a trading card game, televised anime, manga, and theatrical films."

Pokémon Characters
A corporate client of mine asked if I was interested in shooting her son's wedding and then told me about the theme of the event. I actually looked at the calendar to make sure that April Fool's Day had not snuck up on me.  She was dead serious though so I told her that I would get back to her with an answer.

You see, I gave up shooting weddings a while back. I tell people that they are like surviving a 10 hour battle without food, water and with dwindling ammunition. My opinion is that wedding photography is some of the most demanding shooting (outside of a war zone). The pressure is high to get the photos and you do not get a second chance. You have to be on your game and stay there. God help you if anything goes wrong like your bride eating a handful of Xanax and washing it down with a couple of bottles of wine. That is a true story and the reason I got out of weddings. No thank you.

Regardless of my self-imposed wedding retirement, this was one of my favorite clients, and she needed a favor. I decided to help her and see what kind of wackiness might transpire given the ingredients that she described to me over the phone.

The location was going to be a driveway at her home and it was going to happen on Halloween day. I have shot weddings in driveways before. It can be a challenge to make it look like the wedding is not happening where you park your cars at night. Luckily, there was a valley of Fall foliage behind the chosen location, which is better than seeing neighbors' houses.

The other issue was the time of day. It was going to be at 1 o'clock when the sun can potentially be harsh and unflattering causing deep shadows and contrasty images. Of course, there are ways to counteract this, but it gets more difficult in a fluid situation and a wedding party of 14 people. On the day of the event, the wedding gods blessed me with diffused cloud cover, which is like using a giant overhead soft box... in layman terms, perfect lighting for weddings.

We decided to make the group photos before the event to get them out of the way. I think this is great because it is time to party after the ceremony. I generally don't think guests like waiting around while the wedding party is being photographed so this solves that issue immediately.

Here are the ladies. I should point out that the clothes they wore were "inspired by Pokémon", not actual character costumes. This is provides more variety and room for personalization than the matching uniforms that many wedding parties wear. 

Here are the men. These guys cracked me up. The big hands are obvious but did you notice the medieval style cod piece? It's there and I cannot show the other photos... ha ha.

I used my trusty Einstein flashes and a giant umbrella to push fill light into the portraits. Technically, I was shooting into the sun so I was lighting the shadows to make them more even with the lighter background.

 The setting was a tiny nook in the front yard. I tried to create the illusion that we were  not surrounded by houses and cars. I am not showing the other groups I photographed, but there were many.

The procession to the ceremony was a great time to grab less formal photos of the wedding party.

The flower girl was dressed as Pikachu, the most famous Pokémon character.

The ceremony was short and sweet. The couple read a passage from a favorite book that was beautiful. It was all over in a flash.

Afterwards, guests moved inside for cake and food. If the front yard was tight, inside was even tighter once  each room was filled wall to wall with people.

I grabbed the couple for a few more outdoor photos when they were not tending to their guests. These ended up being my favorite photos.

Because they were in untraditional wedding attire, I approached their portraits as character studies.

That took the portraits out of the context of a wedding and to me become more mysterious. 

They defy explanation and I like that about them. The world needs more mystery in it and I hope people wonder "what is the story here?"

I enjoyed meeting the wedding couple and their friends. They were some of the coolest young people that I have met who marched to the beat of their own drums. That individuality in itself should be  celebrated in our homogenized world. This is one wedding that the participants nor I will forget.

And, just to see how many themes we could stuff into one wedding, we got light saber photos. This ended up being the coolest theme wedding that I have shot to date. I wish Harry and Devon a long happy life together.