A wedding album can be a powerfully evocative object. I remember the fascination I felt as I passed the tracing paper pages that protected the old black and white photographs of my parents’. Every time I opened the album it was as if I saw it for the first time: my mum wearing the wonderful silk dress my grandma had made for her, my father thin and without the moustache that would become one of his most defining features, the magnificence of the cathedral... I remember the covers were made of dark green leather and the pages inside, black and thick like cardboard.
A few months ago we celebrated a reminiscence session devoted to weddings in Camden. Shirley, one of the ladies in the group, brought a very similar album, but this time the photos showed a traditional Jewish wedding. However, the album had the same leather cover and black pages and the photos were also protected by tracing paper. Leafing through Shirley’s album I experimented the same kind of feeling, and I could also observe that she lit up explaining the different details of the images.
This is something that could be said of all the wedding photos of the time. Anita Berlin showed me a photo of her parents, Ludwig and Carmen, outside the registry office and they reminded me of the glamour of La Dolce Vita. Another good example is Fay and Tom’s wedding photos, full of the swing of the 1960s, which you can see at the top of this page.
Nowadays the feeling is almost gone; there is a lack of soul in the wedding albums, once you have seen one, you rarely feel like going through it again. It might have something to do with the fact that we are overexposed to images and by the time you see the album you have already seen the same shots one hundred times on your friends’ facebook accounts. But I am convinced it is also the professional photographers’ fault, as they fail to face the challenge of offering something truly original, something that cannot have been taken by anybody’s mobile phone camera.
The format has also something to do with this: there are photographers that cut down costs by offering just a CD with all the photos; others offer digital albums with a metallic touch; and sometimes they use digital retouching so much that the groom’s mother could be taken for the bride’s little sister. Also, the photo selection fails; often it’s the couple who do this job and as a result there is no rhythm, no story. It’s not their fault, but editing is one of the most important and difficult parts of a photographic job and it should be done by a professional. Would you handle the scalpel if you had to undergo surgery? Well, this is what people seem to do when it comes to wedding photography.
A wedding album is something that should be timeless, that should trigger memory rather than giving you the whole story (videos are meant for this, and people rarely watch a wedding video more than once). An album is an object that is not meant for the couple who order it but for their future selves and the future generations.
Lorenzo does not take many wedding assignments; most of them come to him through word-to-mouth and he sometimes documents several weddings and other events within the same family. He has a very clear idea of what a wedding album should be, a witness of the couple’s life around the time they got married: their jobs, their friends, their hobbies. With this aim in mind, he meets them several times along the year. We’ve had photo shootings in primary schools, fire stations, onion warehouses... even in the couple’s bed. We also include friends and family. The result is an album in which you can feel the soul of the people portrayed; you can see who they are, and in the future their children will see who they were.
This is a concept that we share with Juan and Sonia, who came to London last week especially for a photo shooting that will be part of their wedding album. They are getting married at the end of September and we started our project last July. We’ve had several shootings since then, involving the two of them and their two little children, Juanito and Sonia, who are going to play an essential role in the event. While having a drink on the beach after one of these shootings, we suggested that they could come do the next one in London. So they decided to come here during the half-term holidays in February instead of going to Lisbon, as it was their original plan.
We met them in front of the Big Ben and spent the day in the South Bank. At the beginning, it was a bit hard because if you look at Lorenzo’s photos, you’ll realise he has a thing for introducing an element of movement and he often uses birds for this purpose. Well, there were plenty of seagulls and birds on the riverbank, but they refused to fly on the right direction, so Juan and Sonia had to wait patiently while I tried to attract or shoo the birds away. Luckily, Lorenzo is a specialist in catching the moment.
We spent the rest of the day making the most of the wonderful locations in the area: the Undercroft, the National Theatre, the Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge... But my favourite place is by far the beach you can find in the riverbank when the tide is low. There you can see the rests of London’s medieval past, which is hidden almost everywhere else. Going down the stairs that lead to this beach is like stepping back in time and the magic in the atmosphere is undeniable. Here is where Lorenzo took some of the best pictures of the couple.
To finish the day, Juan suggested that we drink a pint of Nicholson’s at the Blackfriar, a cosy pub situated under the bridge of the same name. It was just what we needed after a long day of work, almost eight hours.
I don’t know how to define Lorenzo’s wedding albums; they contain elements of fashion and street photography and when you look at them you can really feel love and positivity. Something that confirms that we are doing the right thing is what Sonia told us at the end of the day: she caught their five-year-old son taking pictures of his toys
Photos making of: Marta Moreno www.photolorenzohernandez.com