Looking back on the challenges of photographing a destination wedding in Rhodes one year later.
One year ago to the day I was waking up two and a half thousand miles from my home in Scotland about to photograph one of the longest, most challenging and yet incredibly rewarding weddings of my 20 year photography career.
Greek couple Anthoula and Georgios, who now live and work in Scotland, were traveling back to their native homeland for their destination wedding which would be packed with all the interesting local traditions that go with a wedding on the island of Rhodes. You can read all about their day on my original blog post here.
So, what made it challenging for me? As I mentioned earlier I have been a professional wedding photographer, working more or less in a documentary / reportage style, for around 20 years. It wasn’t until this wedding in Rhodes that I realised how attuned I’ve become to a typical British wedding. I know it sounds obvious but everyone in Greece speaks Greek, and I don’t. It only dawned on me very early that morning just how much that would make a difference as I couldn’t subconsciously pick up on the changes in voices or listen in to snippets of conversations to prepare for what was going to happen next and capture the moment, which is what I am all about. I only staged very few of the photographs you see on this site, I was just ready for them and prepared to capture those moments when they happened naturally. Photographing here at home I can quickly tell by the words that are being spoken, and the way they are being used whether it is OK to photograph a sensitive moment or whether I should back off and give people some privacy – it is utterly important to me that I am unobtrusive and sensitive to to what can sometimes be an emotional situation.
I am also very used to the running order of weddings here in Scotland. They are all different but then, at the same time, they always follow the same set of rules and customs. Some weddings just have more traditions and different procedures than others. The wedding in Rhodes had all kinds of crazy and fascinating stuff going on that I had never seen before. You can read more about it in the post I’ve mentioned above but right from the outset everything was new to me and that presented its own unique challenges.
For instance, normally the majority of the pre-wedding focus in Scotland is on the bride but in Rhodes it was all about the groom. Starting in just his underpants he was dressed by about 10 people, shaved by 10 more and then everyone came and put the finishing touches to his outfit. And this was just the start of the day! I had a vague idea that this was going to happen but it far surpassed my expectations but it was all so new and exciting and really kept me on my toes so that I didn’t miss any of it.
Then there was the church. I imagine that when they designed it they reckoned it should have space for about 20 local people, not the 100+ who arrived that day to witness the fascinating ceremony that was about to take place. They also didn’t think it was really worthwhile adding any lights (I guess you should know your songs by heart) which made things quite exciting for a photographer. Luckily photography is, apparently, pretty much encouraged during a Greek wedding ceremony so as least I had that to work with. In addition, Scotland is also full of pitch black ceremony locations so my camera gear suited the low light just perfectly.
Absolutely none of these things were much of a problem, it just meant that I had to work extra hard, drawing on many years of experience to always be prepared for what might happen next and this is the reason for this blog post. By my rough estimate I have photographed somewhere between 800 and 900 weddings (I should sit down and count them now that I am stuck at home) and I think there are very few unexpected scenarios or technical problems that I haven’t had to work through at a wedding before now. I know that I can rely on my amazing Fujifilm cameras to be ready whenever I need them and in Rhodes I had them both set up slightly differently so that I could very quickly switch between them without having to really think too much about it. (People always ask how many cameras I carry. The answer is two in my camera bag and a third backup that always stays separately from me just in case something happens to the bag…). My camera bag is always, always packed up in exactly the same way so that I can very quickly grab a different lens or a fresh battery without having to even give it a moments thought. Everything has a fixed pocket and I never deviate from that layout.
The result of all of this? I am very unlikely to have any problems photographing your wedding for you because, for me, it isn’t just a job, it’s something I am very passionate about. I love taking photographs and work tirelessly behind the scenes at every wedding in so many different ways to make sure that I can capture your day for you without any fuss. I have years of experience to draw upon when things get tricky.
Georgios and Anthoula’s destination wedding in Rhodes was a challenge but immense fun and I really enjoyed it. I had a nice relaxing day on the beach afterwards and then, just before flying back home, I was back at it again when we travelled for several hours all around the north of the island for the post-wedding photoshoot. Below is a little photofilm of some of my personal highlights of their day.
Georgios and Anthoula also had a pre-wedding engagement shoot here in Scotland. We spent a very chilly morning in the middle of winter up in Glencoe. Take a look here // Glencoe Engagement Photographs
If you are planning your own destination wedding in Rhodes, or anywhere else for that matter, please do get in contact with me and we can talk about how I can help record your amazing wedding abroad.