Nha Trang's Wedding
Working with over 50 young women, it is no wonder that with every passing month, there is a wedding to attend. In January, yet another colleague got married. Nha Trang worked with me in my young learners' class on Saturday mornings and with my pre-teen class on Thursday and Friday. She is Viet-shy and so working well together took time. I first learned that she had a boyfriend on the day that she handed me the wedding invitation.
The party was on a Saturday night and so we couldn't get there until afer 7PM,when we get off of work. At that time, we are usually tired and wearing worn out clothes from the day. The banquet hall was far from the center of town so Xenia and I first went home to change before taking a taxi to the party. By the time we arrived, the main ceremony was already over and most of the guests had already finished eating. Only a table of our coworkers in the back was still occupied. They first changed into beautiful pary dresses before coming late, and theyhad just started eating a few minutes before we arrived. We enjoyed the food as most of the other tables lay in disarray with only a few stragglers talking over beer.
I had come with my camera, hoping to take photos of the happy couple. I would later get in trouble for abandoning my date. At this point, I had not yet found that balance between being a boyfriend on a date at a wedding, and being a free-freelance photographer for my coworker. I happily risked looking like a fool having not realized that this coworker isn't a real friend who really wanted me to provide this courtesy for her. There is just a wall preventing someone like me and Nha Trang from being real friends. That realization would be enough to stop most foreign teachers from kindly doing the service of photographing a wedding for free. But not me. Not yet.
This event was the first wedding where I brought my external flash. I have been studying how to use light and am completely convinced that I need to bring my Canon 580exII to situations like this. I bought the flash gun for cheap on Chinese Ebay back in the spring of 2015. Over the past three years, I have spent more time studying flash photography than I have taken the opportunity to practice using it. 2018 is the year what that changes. Xenia was nice enough to hold the flash for me so I could get a few shot with the flash off of the camera. Studio photographers always keep the flash off camera. But for an event, it is impossible to keep the flash off of the camera without a dedicated assistant who knows instinctively where to place the light and be in sync with the phototgrapher.
Nha Trang's friends from work all gathered in the main lobby where they could take selfies in front of the wedding backdrop. They couldn't arrive early to see the main ceremony but they love attending weddings. They seem to enjoy making light of the event. They enjoy dressing up and putting on make up after work.
Nha Trang threw her bouquet and Ms. Van caught it. Nha Trang threw the flowers a second time maybe just for the fun of it or maybe because she wanted to give a single woman a chance to catch it. Ms. Van was already planning on getting married. And so technically she shouldn't have been in the bouquet catching pit. But who was going to stop her from having fun with everyone else?
While writing this, I realize that I didn't know anything about Nha Trang's fiance. From the day I got the invitation until the wedding I had not learned a thing more. And I have since learned nothing about him or how they met. I have only thought to care about who he is, how they met, and how they are now getting on soley for the benefit of writing informative text now--three months later. But that is not really my purpose or business. Nha Trang is a coworker who observes my classes and coteaches with me. This doesn't require us to get to know each other very well. We don't know each other well and I have learned over the past three years that photographing a colleagues wedding does not change my status from foreign colleague to friend.
And that is fine because I really want to practice my photography. Every opportunity I get, I want to take. But pissing off my girlfriend at a wedding, in order to get a few pretty shots, is hardly worth it. I am pretty clear now that I love event photography. So I cannot easy get my photography kicks by setting up a little home studio, take a few shots, and edit them in some inventive way on photoshop. That doesn't really interesting to me. I like the excitement of events where there is an element of unpredictability. I like the elusive shot. There is a thrill in realizing that I am in the right place at the right time.