Photography | Events
I was recently invited by my good friend Nhi Vu to shoot my first wedding, a wonderful destination event at The Royalton Riviera, an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico. I gladly accepted with full disclosure that I had no wedding experience and that my approach was more along the lines of reportage than formal portraiture. We agreed that the informal nature of her celebration lent itself well to my style of shooting and that her expectations were in line with my experience. It was going to be an adventure!
The conditions of the location were among the most technically challenging of any that I've encountered: Unpredictable, hot, humid days with flat lighting and occasional, unpredictable rain showers were followed within minutes by intense, open, midday sun that could fry an egg on the pavement.
Gray skies with super flat lighting would give way within moments to high contrast, blue skies filled with puffy white clouds. We would alternate consistently from blinding sunlight to dark, dimly lit hotel interiors as the situations changed throughout the day. And, while the hotel was nicely air conditioned, the contrast in temperatures would play havoc with my lenses as they fogged during our transitions between microclimates. Add to that the fine grain, white powder sand that was ever present blowing in the wind and the slick of suntan lotion that covered most of us, and, well, you get the picture (so to speak).
Neither Nhi nor Jason expressed much interest in getting staged shots, so other than just a handful of poses that I suggested, most of what we did was chronicle the events of the day as they unfolded around us organically.
To complicate matters, there was no schedule other than "let's meet on the beach at 7:00" (which is when the sun would start to drop like a stone), I would be the only "official" shooter, I had to pack my own kit and travel with only what I could carry on the plane, and I had to rent a main body and lens as my camera had broken several years ago and had never been replaced. I would only need the gear for two days, but I had to secure it all for nine days because my family flew down to join us for a week of vacation that started the day after the wedding.
(For those of you who want to nerd-out about the details of my kit and the decisions I made about what to pack and why, I will have a post up soon about all of that.)
I'm a planner, but despite all of my research and prep — including using Google Earth, a sunrise/sunset app, attempts to reach the event staff and several annoying emails to Nhi — there were two elements that would be critical to the success of our shoot that I could not control and they were the weather (June is the beginning of hurricane season in Cancun — yay!) and the invited guests (I was told that up to fifty people might be present). Fortunately, the weather was almost perfect on the day of the wedding and the guests, well … they were better than I could have hoped for. I was welcomed like family and treated like an old friend. Lubricated by alcohol and the expansive spirit of the day, we all got along great and were able to create and capture some terrific memories.
Thanks to the McGees for trusting me on their special day. It was an honor to photograph their wedding — I'm grateful to have had the opportunity.
For many years, Yee-Ping has supported the efforts of #bigsunday, primarily by providing photographic coverage of their hosted events and their annual Big Sunday Weekends.
From the Big Sunday website:
"Our mission is to build community through community service. We believe that everyone has some way that they can help somebody else.
Our biggest event each year is Big Sunday weekend—always in the spring, usually in late April or early May. That’s when thousands of people from California, of all ages and all backgrounds, work together at hundreds of nonprofits, schools and other agencies that need their help …
On Big Sunday Weekend there are opportunities for every passion, talent, skill and age. Projects are scheduled throughout the weekend, and can last anywhere from one hour to two full days. Big Sunday Weekend also includes special events such as art shows, yard sales and blood drives. Plus, every year on Big Sunday Weekend, we give away truckloads of clothes, books, food, furniture, musical instruments, luggage, toys and other items.
For many people, Big Sunday Weekend is just the beginning of an involvement that continues throughout the year. Many of our volunteers build lasting relationships with the nonprofits they first help on Big Sunday Weekend. All year long—and for years to come—they continue to volunteer, mentor, serve on boards and contribute goods, services and money to support these worthy causes."