Taveuni Wedding Photography
Getting Started with Wedding Photography on Taveuni
As my photography has improved I’ve been fortunate enough to be noticed online through web searches and by local resorts. Tropical resort getaways are obviously a favourite location for weddings, and the opportunity to offer wedding photography services has come along in a natural kind of way. My first foray into this somewhat daunting undertaking (daunting that is for the complete novice with no experience) came out of the blue when I was contacted by Maqai Beach Eco Resort looking for a local photographer who might be up to the job. Would I be interested ? Good question ! Let me think…
White weddings with flowing dresses, big churches with zillions of guest, sugar-crazed children running amok, and dreamy-eyed / teary-eyed / bleary-eyed brides in wonderful soft focus and muted tones.
Mmmm…not really my style.
Couple only, no guests, traditional tropical attire, laid back, vibrant and colourful ?
OK, I guess I can give that a go.
And so I dipped my toes into the world of wedding photography…
Maqai Beach Eco Resort
So, I’d never done a wedding shoot and I’d never been to Maqai, and I’d never spoken to or met the couple.
When I finally did meet Kevin and Gracie I was relieved to find them relaxed and easy-going. “You’re the professional – so just tell us what to do” they said. Right – OK, no worries. What should they do ? If I strike it lucky someone might tell me what to do. Maybe I should just take photos and see what happens. Maybe I should just relax.
And so I did. Or tried. We did a walk along the beach with me trying to be inconspicuous and not break my neck walking backwards. We did some posed photos drawing on my huge wealth of experience in posing subjects. We did some bridal prep photos – I always wondered what went on during that bit. We did the ceremony whilst I cursed the high contrast in light within and outside the wedding bure. We did some post ceremony photos on the beach as the sun began to drop. Things were getting easier. We did some informal evening social photos over a few beers. Then we did some kava. And then I relaxed.
For a first time gig it went well. I found out that being a photographer in the tropics is hot, tiring, and sticky. The next day my arms and shoulders were aching. I also found out that, despite the nerves, it was fun, challenging, and fulfilling. So, a few months later when I got another call I said…
Chris and Amy at Taveuni Dive Resort
I was asked if I would be official photographer for a wedding at Taveuni Dive Resort – this for the son and future daughter-in-law of one of our local residents. Guests this time, still fairly informal, ceremony, dinner and socialising. This time I said yes with a little more confidence and little less trepidation.
Taveuni Dive Resort is pretty much our “local” when it comes to socialising, so it’s a familiar place – you know the layout and you know the people. Still, it’s someones big day coming up, so I put my professional head on and checked out the schedule and where everyone was expected to be before, during and after the main ceremony and visualised how everything was going to pan out.
Chris and Amy, as with Kevin and Gracie at Maqai, were very relaxed and placing their faith in me as the pro behind the camera. And with me actually feeling more relaxed myself the day went well. Another long one, around seven hours of shooting and over 500 images to take to the editing room in the coming days.
Of those 500 images over 200 were selected, fully edited and electronically delivered. Every hour of photography resulted in another two hours of selecting the best images, post-processing, and final delivery. For the photographer there’s a lot more work after the last drinks are downed and the lights go off.
John and Christian at Taveuni Island Resort and Spa
My next engagement came along when the original photographer lined up for the shoot experienced an equipment failure – something that could not be fixed in time for the scheduled date. I got the call from Taveuni Island Resort asking if I could step in and do the job. By this time I had settled into a style of photography I was comfortable with and my technique was constantly improving, and I agreed to help out without any second thoughts.
John and Christian were recently married back in the US. This was a honeymoon of sorts and they had packed the wedding outfits for some post-ceremony shots in the tropics. Yet again I found my clients to be extremely likeable and laid back, and after a short chat they disappeared to prepare. John re-appeared a little later and we chatted further over a few beers waiting in anticipation for the bride.
I found this shoot the most difficult so far – even though we started a little late the sun was still very bright with little or no cloud and the contrast in highlights and shadows was very high. This is just one situation where shooting RAW really is a must – you get so much more leeway in the editing room bringing bright highlights and deep shadows back into line.
On the plus side, Christian had done some modelling before and needed little direction when it came to posing. Since there was no event as such we tried to capture natural looking shots, albeit posed. Some of my favourite shots were around the pool with the great backdrop, and after editing came pretty close to the visualised shot on the day.
Yet again I was blessed with an easy-going couple and a fantastic location. After 3 hours of shooting and 300 photos in camera I left just after sunset. Over the next few days 70 were selected for final editing and delivered by Dropbox – all ready for viewing when they arrived home after their tropical honeymoon getaway.
Julius and Martina at Paradise, Taveuni
During the same week I got the call from Taveuni Island Resort I also received a message through my website contact page. At that time I had no wedding portfolio online, just my personal photography. However, Julius and Martina had found my site, liked the images, and needed a photographer for their wedding. The wedding was taking place at Paradise, Taveuni, still some months away. Would I be available ?
Yes, indeed. And since we had time to exchange a few emails this was the first client I’d had contact with before meeting them in person, and when that time did come it felt much more like meeting new friends. With Julius not really speaking any English, Martina enough to get by, plenty of hand gestures, and me dredging up a little German from my school days, we made ourselves understood.
The weather forecast looked a bit touch and go, but we struck lucky with perfect weather. High contrast issues with bright tropical sun were manageable with more shady areas. The staff at Paradise, well practised with wedding events, were fantastic, Julius and Martina were wonderful, everything went smoothly and everyone had fun. The decent sunset I’d prayed for came in right on cue too for some really nice final shots overlooking the ocean and pool.
Back in the editing room I had 400 photos, just over 100 were selected for the full post-processing and I managed to get these back to Julius and Martina a few days later whilst they were still on the island. The sunset shots turned out great, the daytime images were packed full of colour, and the mistakes were few and far between. Maybe I’m getting the hang of it !
Wedding Photography – The Future
So far it’s been so far , so good – and while I still get bouts of nerves before the date these dissipate once the time comes and everything goes pretty well. Without formally advertising wedding photography services I’ve had four engagements based purely on my personal photography posted online. Each event has been a learning exercise, each has had a few cock-ups with rushed camera settings on certain shots, but each client has had 100-200 fully edited final photos delivered to document their day and serve as great memories. And on the whole I’ve had a lot of fun too.
I can now formally offer such services with some confidence and a little bit of experience thanks to the individuals and resorts that have contacted me. So, I do thank those people a great deal for giving me the push outside of my previous photographic comfort zone, having some confidence in me to do the job, and enabling me to grow and practise a different genre. And get paid – that’s always nice 🙂
Need an on-island photographer for your Taveuni Wedding or Event ?
Jonathan Wilkins is Taveuni’s only on-island licensed photographer available for resort weddings and other events.
As a resident photographer guests can benefit from reduced costs that may otherwise be incurred by photographers hired from Nadi or Suva, or (in some cases) even further afield.
Photography style is generally natural and informal endeavoring to document events with minimal fuss or formal posing. Images are edited to reflect the vibrancy of our tropical environment, natural surroundings, resort grounds, and people.
Contact me direct with some details and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can !