To me, this felt like a one off, a gift. Somebody wanted me to document their wedding time over three days. Both bride Yingwen and groom Qi’s parents came over from China, to witness their children, who had both just graduated from Cambridge University, about to get married, with the parents speaking no English, and my Mandarin not so strong these days it was always going to be an eventful couple of days spent together in beautiful Lynton & Lynmouth, North Devon.
We met in a nice little restaurant on the Sunday evening, before making our way to the beach, as the sunset was about to pop, we headed quickly to see this happen.
It was on the beach that I realised I wouldn’t be the only photographer covering the whole experience, the dads were potentially shooting more photographs than me, along with video footage, and the fact that Yingwen’s father was a very successful artist back in China, and had an awesome talent of drawing the scene on pebbles and rocks picked up from the beach, I wasn’t about to tell him that the pebbles belonged to our Queen, I was amazed at his skill and I didn’t think the Queen would miss a few rocks.
The weather on the day of the wedding was a dream, I got to their hotel apartment for just before 8am, and the view from their garden area was incredible, I remember thinking this could have been anywhere in the world, and it wasn’t a bad office for a Monday morning to work from.
The ceremony itself was emotional, I knew it would be, Yingwen really wanted to show the true bond between the families, it was important in their culture and to everyone there, and it was my sole job to capture it.
After Yingwen and Qi got married we took the tram railway down to the beach and village, holiday makers and locals walked past, getting on with their day, it was busy as the sun was out on a glorious Spring afternoon, but it felt all surprisingly calm, and we were the only ones there, strange I know, but very true.
Now, normally when the wedding guests sit down for their wedding breakfast, I normally sit down and stop for the first time in around six to eight hours, it’s a welcome break for me, and I enjoy the time alone to reflect, but today was different, and it felt right, we were all together. I wasn’t in another room of a wedding venue looking tirelessly at the back of my cameras to see what I had got, they chatted and asked about my photography career and family, it was a true honour to be part of their experience.
There was no party in the night, no speeches, no cake, no first dance, and how brilliantly different, my day finished before 5pm, as they just wanted family time that evening, this is why I love my style of wedding photography, there are no rules to stick to, and people are not afraid to get in touch and ask questions and suggest alternative wedding ideas to me. I like that my style is approachable if that makes sense, and so I went home and toasted their marriage in my own hotel bar, and to get an early night, as I was back with them again first thing in the morning, to go for a walk up the North Devon coastal path.
The weather wasn’t as clever the next day, but the walk still happened, another day of photographing the family all together once again, and capturing moments, we reached our goal, stopped for lunch and chatted some more, on the way back down the path they all started to sing, a tradition when walking apparently in China, this is when they asked me to sing something, out loud, in front of everyone, passers by, random sheep, and on request! I was scared, but so I did, nervously starting off the first verse but by the chorus of the Welsh National Anthem I was in, nerves diminished and away I went, singing like some crazy Welsh member of a choir who got lost trying to find his way back to the team bus after having a comfort break aimlessly walking around the coast of Lynton & Lynmouth.
Their charm and manner had rubbed off on me, and that’s true testament to them, such humble lovely people.
Thanks for your time.