So the time has come to look back at the work I produced this year, and the verdict is….. well, I can do a lot better next year. I’m happy with all of my shoots, really happy with some of them, and a even a little bit cocky about one or two. But overall I see work that needs to be refined, pushed further, better planned, more thoroughly thought-out, and more professionally executed. I see some success in trying new ideas, and I also see some needless repetition, using the same technical crutch and gimmicks from time to time.
But that’s all OK. If I looked back and just thought, “Oh wow, yep, totally confirmed – I am wicked fabulous”, then, well, I’d be a jerk and totally delusional. Looking back at mistakes and missed opportunities in 2010 makes me doubly excited for my 2011 clients in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India and Bali. I know there’s so much room for improvement, for growth, for expanding my vision and tecnical repertoire, and my clients next year are going to benefit from this.
2010 was incredible. I shot with some amazing couples, at some jaw-dropping locations (Hanoi! Halong Bay! Phuket! Ho Chi Minh City! Hoi An! Danang! Siem Reap! Angkor Wat!), and made some pretty good images. But after almost every wedding or engagement, I would edit my images, and at some point go,”oh that was really close, I should have tried something just a little different.” I am going to change that in 2011. That’s my resolution.
I was going to do a big “Best of 2010” kindof thing – lots of images, but I decided to keep it tight, clean and simple. One wedding, one engagement, one couple, one picture. And no, it’s not just because I’m lazy. It’s actually a lot more difficult to select a single image to represent a wedding. But it’s an important excercise for a photographer to edit his own work, and to try to find that one image that tells a story of the big day….
So I’d like to (re)introduce to you Thuy Linh and Andy, Desre and Magtellus, Vinuon and Joel, Joleigh and Marcus, Kat and Jase, Katie and Dave, Kim and Dane, Truc and Jason, Tyler and Ngoc and Bi and Ygal… You were all a big part of my year. Great wedding photography is totally dependent on a happy, relaxed, radiant couple, and all of you delivered in spades.
2011 is going to be simply amazing.
Bi & Ygal :: Hue, Vietnam – This snap was made at one of the emporer’s tombs that dot the landscape outside of Hue. It’s a funny little place Hue, often overlooked on the tourist routes, but its really, really, really beautiful. It’s a laid back place, seems stuck about 10 years behind most of the rest of the Vietnam’s cities. Which is a very good thing. My top destination in Vietnam for engagement photography.
Vinuon & Joel :: Siem Reap, Cambodia – What can I say about Angkor? It’s a photographer’s dream location. There is no hyperbole hyperbolic enough to overdo the grandeur and majesty of this place. It is all and everything that anyone has ever said about it, and more. If you haven’t gone, then go. It won’t disappoint. My top engagement location in Southeast Asia, without hesitation. Why aren’t more people getting their photos done here?
Joleigh & Marcus :: Hoi An, Vietnam – This image elicits the most questions and comments from potential clients – “Where is that, and, um, can I get one with me in it?” The magical paper lanterns of Hoi An. It’s a great spot, and despite the ugly monster of Vietnamese state-controlled tourism, retains at least a small part of its charm in the face of rampant overdevelopment. Still a fantastic place to get married, particularly if you solicit the help of Nadine and Simone at Hoi An Events. Also worth checking out Red Bridge for a superb reception and ceremony venue, and dropping by Duc’s Mango Mango and/or Mango Rooms for a few bites and eats on either side of the river.
This is one of the images where I look back and wish I had a bit more time (we had just a couple of minutes to make this frame before hustling back to the wedding reception at Red Bridge). Would have liked to have had Joleigh and Marcus filling that dead space in the middle left of the frame, and worked with the puddle reflection a bit more. Next time…..
Desre & Magtellus :: The Sarojin, Khao Lak, Thailand – I’ve returned to Khao Lak twice to photograph weddings there since I covered the Tsunami recovery in January 2005. Every time I’m there I’m amazed by the progress the community has made, and still in awe, and a little afraid, of the ocean. It’s a magical place for me, and every time I return, I feel a little bit more at peace with the devastation I saw there years ago. The Sarojin resort is one of the places that leave you kindof dumbfounded. It’s very, very, very pretty.
Kim & Dane :: Hoi An, Vietnam – Another amazing Hoi An wedding, this time with a winning location trifecta of Brother’s Cafe for a Vietnamese ceremony in the morning, preparations at The Nam Hai, and back down to Red Bridge for the evening’s festivities, which included the best conga line dancing I’ve ever seen. And the most hugs. Really. Lots and lots and lots of hugging.
The image below is on the actual, real-life Red Bridge itself. Pretty little thing.
Truc & Jason :: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – It was a tough call between this image and one of Vinuon and Joel in Siem Reap, but in the end Truc and Jason’s passionate dance-floor kiss is my favourite dance/reception image of the year. I’m really happy with how the off-camera flash worked, how the flare is just so, and how Truc’s beehive hairdo makes it feel like this is a vintage picture from 1950s Saigon. And if you have a big urban ballroom wedding reception in Vietnam, I can’t recommend the Park Hyatt Saigon enough. Other than that, meh, don’t bother.
Thuy Linh & Andy :: Hanoi, Vietnam – One of the best things about my job is that I get to document different cultural wedding traditions, and weddings in Vietnam are unique. But, to be totally honest, not terrifically photogenic. There’s no plate-crashing, glass-stomping, groom-in-chair-hoisting, garter-belt-pulling, or even much kissing, as you have in some other cultures. But what I do love in particular is on a Vietnamese woman’s wedding day, she wears a red dress, as if to say, “Oh hey, that’s right, I do look this good, deal with it.” Always a joy to see that burst of red.
Katie & Dave :: Hoi An, Vietnam – Looking back on this year’s images, I do feel I’m missing a collection of really strong “moment” images, but this one I’m quite happy with. An excited bride, a proud father, about to walk down the aisle. Awesome. (note: and this is probably the only image I’ve ever taken with Canon’s hefty 85 1.2 that I really like. Which is why I sold it.)
Tyler & Ngoc :: Hoi An, Vietnam – More red ao dai action. It just pops so nicely…. Love this image for the layering, the colour, the tree, the traffic, the cyclos, and, despite all this, the simplicity.
Kat & Jase :: Halong Bay, Vietnam – Together, we embrace, and drift towards the future…..
Happy New Year. See you on the other side of 2011. . . .