I like to poke fun at our brides. They are an easy target. It’s typical, but not mandatory, to be self-obsessed when planning a wedding. Brides can forget that the world doesn’t revolve around their nuptials Everyone tells them, “it’s YOUR special day.” Few people tell them that it’s still OK and highly recommended that you to laugh at yourself.
I got the idea for this shoot from a much, much more well-financed spread in Vogue, I think. A bride was wearing boxing gloves and sparring with a trainer in a fancy hotel. I don’t remember why. Anyway, I thought about all the thing brides are advised to do to prepare. Get a facial two weeks before so that you avoid the break-out period. Exercise to keep down bloat. Avoid carbs. Get a base tan, etc. It didn’t take much to convince our mischievous photographer Johnny Andrews (formerly John L. White) that we should stick a bride in big pretty dresses in some ridiculous situations. His crowning glory was staging the bike scene. That was NOT easy. I’ll explain it later.
That’s me holding her hand on the left and a real manicurist from the shop on the right. Our lighting director, who happens to be a staff photographer at the Post-Dispatch, Huy Mach, is pretending to massage her temples. He’s wedged into a tiny crawl space and you just barely see his tattoo on the left. He got this thankless job because he was a great sport; he could fit into that tiny space and he has “lady hands.” That’s me in the back with the veil. It’s freezing outside because we had to shoot this during the midwestern winter. I don’t remember how cold, but it was really, really cold. I’m trying to keep the veil untangled and clean. The hairdresser is making adjustments. Our groom reported that he was pretty cozy in the brand new BMW 600 series we had delivered but the bride was cold. We gave her a blanket every once in a while.
The police officer is real. He volunteered from a local police force. It was his idea to keep his sunglasses on. In fact, he would not take them off and being that he was a police office we said, “Yes, sir.” Good thing it worked for the best.
This was the last shot of the day. The wedding is over and the bride, who you’ll note was driving, is trying to talk her way out of a speeding ticket. The final image is below. And random note: The bride is standing in that spot to hide some lighting equipment they put in the backseat to illuminate the groom and there was some odd BMW corporate rule that we couldn’t hide the back wheel, so unlike my preference we had to keep the dress unfluffed to show the BMW wheel symbol on the back tire.
This shot on the bicycles is great because Johnny gives you the illusions that there is movement. All the bikes are stationary. They are rigged on bike clamps that let you pedal, but you can’t move. It took a while to hook them all up and get the placement just right. Johnny is on the frozen ground from this shot so that you don’t see the clamps.
The real heros here, however, are the Big Shark cycling crew. They came out on a frigid day and they were man enough to not shiver even though their cycling clothes are as close to riding nude as a guy can get. They are designed to wick heat away from the body, not warmth. They were pretending to lose the race to our bride, but they should have gotten an Emmy for doing it while fending off frost bite.
This next shot is one of my favorites. We were so lucky to find a stand up tanning booth that would let us stick a girl in a wedding dress inside. The googles are awesome and I love the way the dress lights up, but I wish I had found some white jewelry that would have glowed in the booth as well. I thought the necklace would present better, but I think I should have gone with pearls.
This shot at a pasta shop was scary, but you’ll notice that she’s holding pasta WITHOUT sauce. This wasn’t my a favorite because the idea was to have her gorging on pasta, but there weren’t any good ways to show that without obstructing the dress or running the risk of soiling it. In hindsight we should have played it more for laughs and maybe showed her with five or six empty pasta plates and a mouth full of food instead.
This final shot was definitely the cutest. I love her expression as she pretends to watch a movie thriller and I always pick a pink dress for our bridal shoots (yes, before Jessica Biel) and it’s usually one of my faves. Although to answer your question, no, I don’t want to get married in a pink dress or any type of typical wedding dress. Doing bridal shoots for years has ruined me. But it I ever do get married, my dress will be fabulous.
We shot this look in the theater many, many ways. It’s also on the first page with her lying across the chairs horizontally. Here we were trying to get the model to pretend to be watching a comedy, but she couldn’t manage a convincing looking laugh so our makeup artist Garry (two r’s) volunteered to tell her weird jokes while they were shooting. It worked, but a little too well. The photographer, lighting director, me and everyone else in earshot were laughing along so hard we were in tears. So we opted for Plan B.
This was a two-day shoot, but it took weeks of prep. We picked locations that were all within about a half mile radius, so it looks like we traipsed all over time, but we were very, very careful to consolidate. For most of the shots our dressing room was a private meeting room at the local library because we could set up hair, makeup and leave the dresses hanging in one location.