I posted this on a couple of Denver Facebook wedding groups:
“I’m looking for a couple getting married this summer either outdoors or indoors at a country club setting for a prototype glamorous wedding photography service (not replacing your wedding photographer) and utilizing a vintage wooden camera. Complimentary if we both think it’s a good addition to your special day. PM me for details. KennethWajdaPhotographer.com“
I’m putting it out there, wishing to have wedding couples bring me to their wedding. Perhaps not even as their main photographer. As a second shooter, an add-on service. Making the film photographs. Why film? Because film has soul. Ask the top cinematographers why the biggest budgeted movies are still shot on film. How digital feels perfectly sterile and film has a feeling to it.
I live in a parallel universe to the rest of the world, being a film photographer working with vintage cameras that were the mainstay of the fashion world at one time. Medium format 120 Rolleiflexes and Hasselblads. Large format Graflex Speed Graphic press cameras and Wista wooden cameras.
I’m not completely alone. Legendary Newsweek photographer David Burnett is often seen shooting a 4×5 camera on Capitol Hill to document historical events and create news photographs that don’t like every other photographers’ work.
I do work with digital cameras for commercial work, but weddings are better than just another commercial shoot. They’re too special to simply fire off thousands of digital files.
While most wedding photographers are working in digital formats, upgrading to the latest mirrorless Sonys, Nikons and Canons that shoot 20 frames per second, I’m shooting with cameras that have always been mirrorless–Leica rangefinders (and Rolleiflex TLRs) that were used by many of the most celebrated and famous photographers to document history, plus large format 4×5 view cameras.
So, I made that Facebook post for a complimentary session to see if I could get one bridal couple this summer, just one, to let me work in my way, as a photojournalist shooting just a little bit of film. Making documentary photographs using black and white and color film in these classic cameras. Perhaps assembling a small album of 30-50 photographs, hand-printed on real silver paper in my studio darkroom (yes, I still have one). To show what this can look like.
See, I’m a dreamer. I believe in the magic of film photography at special events like weddings, its ability to capture life’s little moments (not the posed ones that are on some checklist, but real ones) in real silver (that’s what makes film look so unique) and to print those photos to create small albums that live on coffee tables. To create a book of special small wonderful things.
I live to make photographs that depict emotional moments and small bits of joy as seen through a photojournalist’s eye, not in some “photojournalist style” but as a photojournalist, which I’ve been for over 30 years. To create an album of a handful of prints, not a thousand files on a hard drive. Not to be viewed on a computer, but in a book, an album–a group of photos small enough to get through and not overwhelm, that give a taste of the day. The kind of album that gets looked at again and again.
To me, black and white is the classic rendering of a special event, the look that turns a moment into a bit of art. Especially since I can hand-print black and white film in my traditional silver darkroom on museum-grade fiber photographic paper.
To photograph at a wedding, I want to be invited to work with no lists. No set shots to get. No parameters other than “get some photos that show the day.”
To flit around, unobtrusively, almost invisible, making some powerful photographs so the wedding couple can relive the day in a way different from their main photographer shooting thousands of images for online and social media posts. My work is seen in a small book that is not trying to represent every second of the wedding day, but a small sample of uniquely special moments. Mainly the wedding ceremony and just a bit of the reception. Photographs not available online but in a book that some very few special friends see when they visit the bridal couple at home.
I’ve been trusted to photograph U.S Presidents and other dignitaries as a press photographer. I’ve made portraits of celebrities and rock stars. I’m experienced and not inexpensive–my rate to document a wedding on film ranges from $2000-$3000 with the cost of materials and hand-printing the album of photographs.
I’m a guy, not a young woman but a seasoned photojournalist who lives for watching for, seeking out, and capturing those little moments that say so much, whether at a historic event or a wedding, and then for my wedding couples, to take those photographs and assemble the prints into a real book.
An actual book. What a concept!
I believe standard wedding coverage is a two-person job (which is why I don’t work as a “regular” wedding photographer). Anyone working alone is doing a disservice to the bride and groom–you need two photographers to be in two places at once throughout the day. But a pair of photographers, making thousands of images and then delivering to the bridal couple hundreds of images online is daunting and overwhelming. But it’s what couples want these days, or are told they want. “Give me all the photos, I want them all.”
Maybe you don’t. When will you go through them all? What do you do with that hard drive of images? When will you invite anyone to sit with you and look at them on the computer? If you post 200 photos on Facebook, how many friends will actually click through them all? And will they ever revisit them?
Too much is too much. “I’m sorry I wrote you a long letter. I didn’t have time to write you a short letter.” Less is more. Good stories are told as short as possible. Long stories ramble and bore.
I want to find those couples that are intrigued by less is more, by a simple book of a handful of moments. A coffee table book that showcases small stories from their uniquely wonderful wedding day.
Maybe you’re that couple. Contact me at email@example.com if you are. Maybe I’ll be the documentary photographer, the photojournalist working at your wedding, creating a small book of life’s little moments on the occasion of your most special day.