Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Documenting a Photographer's Bridal Self Portrait

The past year I’ve been saying yes to opportunities that normally I would question or instantly think of reasons to say no to. Putting fear aside, I decided that saying yes would lead to growth and if anything, an experience you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience if you said no.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from photographer, Susan Sabo that simply asked if I was around the following day to help her on a shoot.  We’ve been facebook friends for a while and I’ve only met her briefly one night but I didn’t think twice to say yes without question.  I didn’t know what she wanted me to do or what the shoot was about but I figured that if she reached out to me, she needed the help.
After I said yes, she told me she was working on self portrait series for the following year titled, “be the bride 2011.” She’s a wedding photographer and wanted to step in the shoes of brides she shoots to understand what it’s like to actually be the bride.
She asked me to meet her at the local park in the city to help her take her self portrait.  She set up the shot and equipment and my job was to help her get ready and essentially, push the button.  When I arrived at the meeting spot, I parked next to her car and wandered around a bit to look for her.  I had no idea what the shot would be like but I started looking by the creek and by trees in the area thinking that she would take a photograph of herself in your typical beautiful lush green surroundings.  I was wrong.
I texted her and asked where she was hiding and she text back telling me to go to the public restrooms.  She was in the bathroom setting up for her self portrait with her wedding dress hung up on the restroom stall and the camera set up and facing the toilet.  This was not your typical bridal scene.
I asked to take photographs to document this experience and she agreed.  I snapped away as I was helping her into her gown and handing her props she brought to use for the scene such as bubble gum, cigarettes, magazines and her bouquet. You know, everything a bride needs for the big day.
As she describes, her speciality is “off beat” weddings.  Also, she likes to go big in her self portraits.  She says, “because frankly, I’m not ready to go home.  It’s not about getting attention or getting a rise out of the viewer; it’s about doing it right, being true to my concept and not letting the fear that someone may not like it keep me from shooting it exactly the way I want.”
For that reason, I admire what she is doing.  She doesn’t care if the final image is shocking to some viewers because it’s her vision and she is holding true to who she is and wants her brides to feel the same way.  They don’t have to stand there looking into the sunset if that is not the person they really are.  It’s all about being true to who you are as an individual and having the photographs from your wedding reflect that.
Saying yes to help a photographer realize her vision was an experience I won’t soon forget.  It’s a good lesson to learn that whatever you want to do, you should do it.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Be brave. Be yourself.  Don’t care what people will say or what everyone else is doing. You are the only person you have to live with twenty four hours a day so make it authentic to you.


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