Sydney Italian Village Wedding – Gina & Wilson.

I have a confession to make.
I used to be a geek.
A big one.
Not as geeky to qualify as an Otaku, but enough to be applying for a voluntary designer position, to a youth orchestra specialising in Japanese anime and video games music.
In Sydney.

That’s when I first met Gina as she was the one ‘interviewing’ me via email.

I revisit this memory with a mixture of cringe and pride because I don’t think I was ever as passionate as anything else later in life, with my 1000 word essay and bullet point questions.

Anyway, Gina laughed it off and said, yea yea whatever you’re hired.

And kids, that’s how I got to meet a bigger geek that was way more into Totoro than I was.

Since then, I reserved the PS3-Japanese-anime-manga-cosplay-subculture piece of my mind for this Sydney pen pal.
Like the tree you dig a hole in to shout out some nasty secret, just to fill it with mud as a cover up later.
Even long after we’d both quit the youth orchestra (I designed some brochures and a couple of very abstract CD covers by the way), we kept in touch via MSN Messenger(!) and webcam’d from time to time.

She saw me space-jumped from a fresh off the boat uni student, to a functioning advertising graduate, to an art director, to a photographer.

In fact, she made sure I photographed her sister’s wedding first.

On her wedding day last year, I was the photographer, the distant cousin, the protective brother, the digital gay friend, the Melbourne tour guide, the dirty hamster cartoon-sharing accomplice, all in one.

All my split personalities, happy to see how happy she is with Wilson.

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Melbourne East Elevation Wedding – Sophie & Lochlan.

Sophie and Lochlan got in touch really last minute.
Their wedding day was two days before I flew off for another wedding in Japan.

They’d been back from London for almost two years now.
And as we talked about our backgrounds during our first meeting we slowly realised we were in the same architecture course ten years ago.
Yet we’d never met.

Perhaps we were all busy.
Perhaps we were all shy.

Sophie and Lochlan were definitely one of the most camera-shy couple I’d ever encountered.

And that’s actually not a bad thing.
They just didn’t want to be the centre of attention.

I’m sharing this because it reminded me when I first started out.
When I knew (close to) nothing about portraits and ‘rules’, and just documented everything I saw.

It’s a simple day – drinks in the city then off to a warehouse for the party.
Friends and family from near and far gather together to celebrate two people being together.
Having a good time.

And it felt good going back to basics.

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San - Quietly stunning. You captured the moment so beautifully Harvey.

Bankers Club Kuala Lumpur Wedding – Huey & Darius.

If you’re feeling frustrated that your photos do not look like the American or European rockstar photographers’ work, here’s what I learned:

The location makes a big difference.

The sun path is different.
The luminance is different.
Shooting at Hobart during 5pm is different from shooting at Milan during 5pm.
The tungsten and florescent lights behaves differently too.

Last September I went to Malaysia to shoot the wedding between Darius and Huey Meng, an old college friend.
KL was going through a severe case of haze fever.
Imagine a massive diffuser in the sky, screwing up everything you’re used to.

What I’m trying to say is, wedding photography is interesting because it is so easy and difficult at the same time.
The first five years you try to make your work process as consistent as possible.
You curse when the lighting is different and you try your best to match everything to the process you are familiar with.

And then you realised, everything looks the same.
So you start to think, what’s wrong with things being different anyway?

I joked to Huey Meng and Darius that we should put on masks because, you know, haze.
” Can. We’ll wear it if you bring it, ” they said.

What I’m trying to say is, interesting things happen whenever I joke.

Rockstar photographers say to be a successful photographer, you need passion, creativity, a strong backbone, a flexible mindset, thick skin, unique point of view, batch edit, presets, persistence, social media engineering, to work for free, not to work for free, Canon, Nikon, Fuji, a ‘voice’, no, a ‘style’, actually just use film, are you still reading this good pay me two thousand dollars.

What I’m trying to say is, having a sense of humour and good clients work for me.

The sun may shine differently in other countries, but other photographers don’t necessarily have what you have either.

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The Deck at Circa Wedding – Echelle & Pete.

Echelle’s brother, Chris, is my brother-in-law.
Last year, on the morning of her wedding day, Chris called to say he couldn’t make it.
Because my sister’s water broke.

It was a day mixed with joy, anticipation, anxiety and a hint of confusion.

Where’s the bride’s brother? 
Oh his wife’s in labour. Ask the photographer.
Why? 
Oh he’s the brother of the wife.
The bride’s brother’s wife’s brother is the photographer? 
Yea.

Didn’t stop the bride and groom from rocking the robot though.

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Oohsaka.

Osaka city view from Shin Osaka Station

So you meet a stranger in a foreign land.
A cashier, an Uber driver, the guy who makes your coffee, maybe.
You tell them you’re a photographer and you’re here to shoot a wedding.
Their mouths go wide open.
You have the best job in the world, they say.

But people who shoot weddings overseas, executives who fly in and out in business classes know this:
At some point, you feel like a ghost.

You have no connection to this place.
There is zero chance of you bumping into someone you know.
The magazines, the ads, the free brochures, they don’t speak to you.
Sometimes, you’re just taking the really long way from one conference room to another.

We get to travel, yes.
But we’re mostly on business.
It gets lonely.

Destination wedding photographers won’t admit to this.
But deep down, we all know.
All the time and freedom to do whatever I want, yet I just want to be home with my family.

Melbourne Family Portrait – Heide.

I decided to share my most recent shoot.
Express! Instead of my usual slow burn.
I literally just emailed the gallery to the family minutes ago.

I remember when I last shot the girls I shared their photo on my Facebook page with  ‘dolls’ as the caption.
Two years later they’re now big dolls with bigger vocabularies.

As we were shooting last week, mum and dad kept asking the girls to behave and smile nicely.
But as I was limiting myself to pick 25 shots to share on this post, I couldn’t stop but clicking on the ones with silly faces.

Usually when I’m shooting I sweat on the technical side of things.
But at the back of my mind, I’m also imagining what the family would want on their wall.
Sometimes I also imagine what the kids will think ten years down the road.
What their kids will think another twenty down.
Maybe they’ll feel embarrassed. Bittersweet nostalgia?
Maybe happy. Or melancholy.

I just hope they will feel something.

Tell me I’m not the only one.

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The beautiful people behind the beautiful food.

I have a wedding to shoot tomorrow.
And another one the day after.
So naturally I’m trying not to think too much about wedding.

Let’s talk about something else.

Last week I was engaged to do some formal portraits for Vue De Monde’s website.

The set up was really, really simple.
Since we’re on the 55th floor, we had ample amount of natural light coming from the window.
All I needed to do was to bounce the light with a reflector.
Thanks to some mischievous staff, you could see my set up in the final photo.

I burned the window side a touch in photoshop so the dark background appears consistent throughout the shots.

I felt a bit hurt, when one of the staff saw his/her photo, and thought he/she looked terrible.
I personally think portraits should show one’s personality; not beauty.

Alright, back to polishing lenses.

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Tokyo Wedding – Aico & Jeremy.

Aico and Jeremy’s lunch reception is very Tokyo.

When I say ‘ a wedding in Tokyo’, most likely you’re imagining the bride wearing a kimono.
An entourage following her, lead by a chanting Taoist monk.
Strolling through an autumn park.

That’s a fair imagination.
But Tokyo is a very big place.
For every traditional tea ceremony, there’s a robot cafe to balance its duality.

For every traditional wedding you have in mind, there is a cosy and modern one.
One with a white dress.
One with a ceremony on a balcony overlooking the concrete jungle.

Aico and Jeremy’s wedding threw me off a bit as it was so familiar, yet different.

Like a parallel universe.

It could be anywhere in the world, but the little details stood out.

Like how there’s a hidden room for the bride which you unlock with a book on the bookshelf.
There’s a manager with an ear piece updating us on 15 minute increments.
The whole crew, including the chefs came out to wish her well with a cake, and insisted I join their group photo.
They sent us off the street and waved until we were out of sight.

Bear no doubt: this is a wedding in Tokyo.

Originally, we intended to go Yoyogi Park for some formal portraits.
But since we were in Omotesando, I thought the modern buildings juxtaposed against the old streets and witch’s hats will make it more ‘Tokyo’ than it already is.

I do not regret making the last minute call.

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Art of plating.

Vue De Monde contacted me to document their new menu last year.
If I may put my foodist hat on, the food appear more rustic and nordic compared to when I first dined there.

Shooting at VDM is simple.
Natural light is everywhere.
Backdrop, props and food compliment each other like silk gloves.

So what is left, is simply composition.
Plus the pressure to shoot 15 dishes in one go.

It was later featured on The Art of Plating.

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Kristina - Great shots.