Sofitel and San Jose Gurdwara

Reena and Simon
May 08 2010

Slideshow
Full set of pics

So this wedding is forever going to be one of the stories I tell people when they ask me about the "what if something happens to you" clause in my contract. I broke 2 ribs about a week and a half before this 16 hour, 4 location wedding in May. Don't ask me how--I basically tripped over my own feet and fell sternum first on a sharp step-thingie near my bank. Two days after the fall I couldn't breathe properly, couldn't really sleep unless I was propped in a kind of diagonal halfway between my back and side, and couldn't do anything (including lifting my arms, moving, or breathing) without major pain. Now unlike a leg or an arm they really can't do anything for you if you break ribs--they cant put a cast around your chest, and even a wrap is usually frowned upon because it can cause chest constriction and pneumonia. If you have little pieces of rib floating around inside you they will operate and remove them, but other than that you kind of just have to wait it out. By the time the wedding rolled around the worst of the pain was over, but I was still only about 35% healed. Still, as long as I was able to stand and hold a camera I wasn't going to let my couple down.

I already had a 2nd shooter for this wedding and was considering hiring an assistant as well, to carry my gear and help me hobble around, but I couldn't find anyone on short notice and so I decided to just pack really light. I stocked up the morning of the wedding with advil, aleve, and more 5hr energy shots than I care to remember. The couple was scheduled for 10 hrs with a break in the middle, but I knew that they would probably need me for a minimum of 5 extra.

The wedding was hard, and long, but it was surprisingly easy to lose myself in my work--especially when we didn't have to move around too much. The hardest part of the day was probably the ceremony, because the room was packed with people and the longer we were in there, the hotter it got. I told Julio (my 2nd) what I was dealing with and that I might need to have him take over primary shooting for a few mins if I needed to rest, but if I remember correctly I don't think I ever ended up needing to do that. There were a few points in the day where I really had to push myself, especially during times when we were waiting for something or between events--I found that as long as I was shooting actively, I could forget about my body, but when the action died down and I came back into myself it was really hard to keep my energy up.

This is not the first time I've had to shoot a wedding with some kind of debilitating illness or injury. When I first started shooting, I was terrified of getting the flu or something like it during wedding season...but after the first wedding I shot with the flu, sick as a dog, I looked at my pictures and saw that they were not only fine...they were good. I had hired a 2nd shooter for the day just in case, but I ended up only using her images to supplement mine; the couple from that wedding never knew there was anything wrong with me, they adored their pictures and so did everyone else who saw them. I realized then that I was good enough at photography at that point in my life that I could do a great job at it, no matter how I felt or what was going on with me personally. And from that point on, I was a lot more confident about walking into any situation.

Anyway, getting back to Reena and Simon. The couple got ready at their respective parents houses, and then had their ceremony at the Gurdwara (Sikh temple) in San Jose. They went back to Simon's parent's house for a few traditional post-wedding games and family time, and then we set off to shoot couple portraits at Stanford. I loved how their glittering hot pink outfits looked alongside the repeating collumns and brick facades of the school, and Reena and Simon came prepared with a few ideas to play with, which were inspired by both traditional Indian wedding portraiture they'd seen and my own previous weddings at Stanford.

After Stanford we headed to the reception at Sofitel, which is where I shot Marc and Daisy's wedding reception last year. I love their Chihuly inspired glass sculpture, and all the other little touches of art and design that make this hotel a really fun place to shoot.

The decor at the reception was spectacular--the colors were bright and poppy, and I've never seen BLUE orchids in my life. I'm pretty sure they were dyed, but I didn't care; I must have spent 20 mins just shooting the flowers. The couple planned an entertaining reception for their guests, including many funny and touching speeches, and a Bhangra dance performance by their young relatives. I was a little sad that, because things were running so late already, Reena didn't want to keep us on to shoot very much of the dancing/party portion of the evening. But by that point I had been up and working for nearly 20 hours straight, and I think maybe she was taking pity on me as much as on her checkbook. ;)

By the time it was over I was physically and emotionally drained--after I packed up my stuff and dragged myself out to the parking lot, I climbed into the front seat of my car, put my head in my hands, and just sat there like that for awhile before I felt awake enough to drive. And then I went home...and didn't get out of bed for 2 days. Whew.

But in the end it was a small price to pay both for keeping my client's trust, and doing something I can be proud of.

reena's outfit for the ceremony, in morning light
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I love heels anyway, but seeing them with mendhi (henna tattooing) is just that much better.
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mmm...negative space...
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so i kind of have a shoe fetish. But I really didn't mean to put two shoe shots from the same wedding in one blog post, it just happened...
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exchanging Jam Mala (leis)
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in both Sikh and Hindu ceremonies, the couple circles the altar mutiple times, with the bride following the groom. In Hindu ceremonies only however, the couple makes the circle one final time with the groom following the bride.
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I think this shot is freaking gorgeous; I love their body language and how cool Reena's nose ring looks.
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Sofitel ballroom; decor by Yasin from Prime Party Rentals and Decorations
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Reena's evening outfit, which just happened to match the carpet at Sofitel almost exactly.
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another one of those lovely public/private moments
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the Bhangra dancers
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blue and purple orchids
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vendors:

ceremony: San Jose Gurdwara

reception: Sofitel

event coordinator: Tiffany Aurielo for Sofitel

event design, flowers, linens, decor: Prime Party Rentals

catering: Bombay Garden

cake: the Cakery

videographer: Suresh Roy

DJ: Roneel Prakash

hair/makeup: Ruby's Beauty Studio

big thanks to the talented Julio Duffoo for 2nd shooting with me!

3 comments:

Justin Pearson said...

The b&w of them dancing really shows the emotion and joy. Nice work. Justin

Ruth Silver -- Chicago Wedding Photographer said...

Such beautiful details and vibrant colors. You can really see the love and emotion in the photographs you captured. Amazing work!

BernadetteM said...

I loved working on an Indian wedding. Loved the vibrant colors.