Strength of tradition at Christine and Zeljko’s wedding
Few life events are more idealised than a wedding, and in many ways they can exceed all expectations. I was asked to photograph the exceptionally beautiful and unique wedding of Christine and Zeljko Stanic, a couple who were strengthening their Serbian culture by uniting it on the glorious morning of 28 Oct 2017.
As the modern-day era clashes with differing views of religion, politics, equal rights and more, in Perth it was a bringing together of two families that brought harmony and happiness to the locale of the city.
But the photography session was not an ordinary job; the day was to be filled with capturing the moments of the couple’s union, and then finishing it off with their son’s Christianisation (baptism).
Christine and Zeljko took a non-traditional approach to their photography requirements, with portraits taken outside at Brigatti Gardens before the wedding ceremony – something considered odd in a Western wedding. But it didn’t seem to faze the bride or groom, so we utilised all the beautiful daylight coming down from the skies to take natural shots of them with their eight-month-old son, Oscar. It was also a perfect time for them to relax a little before the big ceremony that lay ahead.
A beautifully constructed structure, the church provided me with a complete sense of worldly union, allowing me to feel as though I was in another place and time. The walls were covered from floor to ceiling with icons, saints and stories from the Bible, and I took an interesting notice of how the bridal party’s male guests stood to one side and the women to the other. This is where Christine and Zeljko took to tradition – the Orthodox Church continues the practice of its Jewish roots, where men and women stand separately to emphasise everyone is equal before God.
The church was well lit, but the Tungsten lights made everyone appear somewhat orange. My trick was to use my camera’s speed light to even out the colours. Normally, the use of a flash is prohibited during a church ceremony, but the Serbian priest was overly relaxed with this rule, and I could do as I wished.
There were some words I don’t understood while photographing the couple at their ceremony, but it didn’t take away from the vibrancy of the guests, who truly shared in the new union between Christine and Zeljko. Their passion and happiness gave me the opportunity to anticipate every euphoric move by a guest, and capture as much enjoyment as possible – which was everywhere. No matter which way I turned, from the minute the ceremony started to the moment everyone walked out into the sunshine, there was something to turn my lens to and snap away wholeheartedly.
While the guests waited for baby Oscar’s Christianisation, nothing could stop me from smiling and getting into focus for the traditional Serbian music and dance that broke out. In vigour and delight, all attending showed Perth what a joyous occasion this wedding was, and for a photographer, non-stop movement and action is exciting and provides endless opportunities to get the shots you want. There was simply no stopping me. Or the guests, for that matter!
Oscar’s Christianisation soon followed, and of course as children do, tears were the norm as the Serbian Orthodox priest bathed him and welcomed him officially into the church. And once Christine and Zeljko’s son was happy again, it was all celebrations and time to relax for everyone with a reception at the church.
I wish Christine and Zeljko a long, loving life together with their son Oscar, and can’t wait to capture their family as it continues to grow.