This specific photo has admittedly created a lot of misunderstandings in my Santorini photos portfolio!
You see, Santorini is a great wedding destination. Thousands of marriages are carried out every year at the hundreds of its small churches and chappels. Specialised wedding services provide everything but the bride (…. or the groom accordingly!) and help people experience what is probably a wedding at the most exquisite place!
So…. how could I possibly explain that this shot is not a staged one, but rather a spontaneous glimpse captured through my lens? How could I persuade all those good people that ask me to cover their wedding in Santorini that I am not a staged-photo wedding photographer, but rather a hunter of real moments?
Exhausted from another full day of walk around the cliffs of Firostefani, we rushed with my wife for a sip of coffee and some final relaxing views before our flight back to Athens. While at the cafe, we saw that just-married couple arriving having some of its shots taken by a pro photographer.
“Hey! We see thousands of them every year…..“, mumbled the cafe-owner, a typical middle-aged rogue greek villager with the moustache and the belly. “It’s just another couple! No big deal!“… he said making good efforts to de-mystify the moment.
They were standing at the terrace just below us. A single staged photo here… Another staged photo there…. Another fixed setting after that… Sit-down. Stand-up. Smile. Now hug.
“Nice hour…“, I thought “and a truly beautiful couple. Pity about the stiff positions!“. Following the strict commandments of their photographer, the couple moved endlessly around the terrace, sitting… standing…. smiling, yet not sure whether being themselves. After almost a ten-minute shoot, the photographer left. The light was even better now. And the couple was relaxed…
Well, I was not! You see I had the perfect spot. Higher above them at the cafe, priviledged to examine their now more natural moves. The “pro’s” work was over…. But now it was our own time! The couple and me in co-ordination… They strolled slowly across the terrace…. My fingers were already fumbling my camera in the bag. I was already wishing for their next steps… I was sending thoughts on where I wished they would stand… They followed!
The lady left the flower-bouquet resting on the wall. The couple stood side-by-side, hands held, admiring the magnificent view. The light was spot on. She leaned on him, giving me the signal… Stood-up, grabbed the camera, two shots, 5 seconds in total.
The rest of the story was typical: The cafe-owner shaking his head about this fool-enthusiast photographer who gets charmed by nonsense. The pro leaving the spot with a bag full of staged shots. The couple admiring the view and enjoying their new life. And myself with a precious moment captured…
Now how on-earth to explain all that, to these good people asking for wedding shots, that in wedding photography I prefer to capture real moments….
[edit: After quite some demand from couples, from Greece and abroad, I am now among the Greek Wedding Photographers 🙂 ]