As the sun sets

silouhettesAs the day comes to a close, as the sun begins to hide its face and the moon begins to show its, as a warm ruddy glow shimmies atop the ocean’s weary surface, it’s the perfect time to take photos, forsaking brightly illuminated, definable faces in favor of silhouettes freckled with spangles of golden light.  — David Marsh, Kauai photographer

All hail…here comes royalty

When you get married in Hawaii, ukulele music might fill your ears, or maybe your musician will play the ukeke or maybe even the pahu. You’ll probably have a lei placed around your neck.  Leis are tokens of love and aloha. Grooms often wear a garland of green leaves (manly) rather than Kika or jasmine blossoms.  At the beginning of your ceremony, the conch might be blown, especially if it’s a beach elopement—a Hawaiian tradition that dates back to the time when the conch was blown to announce the arrival of Alii or Royalty.  Your officiant might smash open a coconut and spill the milk on the sand, and then ask you to rest your forehead on your partner’s forehead.  But you’re unlikely to experience a wedding tradition in Hawaii that will shock you. If your breath is taken away, it’s probably because you’re standing on the most dramatic beach you’ve ever seen, not because you’ve been punched in the gut for good luck or because your guests have suddenly gone berserk, yelling and laughing and banging and rattling pots and pans.  This pot banging business is an actual wedding ritual that was once commonplace in parts of Europe, especially in the middle ages. It’s still practiced today at some weddings. They call it Charivari in France, In Northern England, skimmington.  Family and friends gather outside the house of the newly weds and make pot-and-pan music or the din of a lifetime. The wedding couple has to bring out food and drinks and endure the racket.
How about this tradition: in some parts of Korea a groom can expect to be slapped about with a dead fish, apparently to prepare him for his first night of  marriage. The connotation is darn right unspeakable.  In Scotland, there’s the old Scots blackening ritual. Wedding gatherers throw all sorts of black and brown vile things at the couple before the wedding—if they can accept the disgusting, stinky mess they can endure anything.  Then there’s Chinese tears training — the bride-to-be spends a month before the wedding learning how to weep like a professional. They smash dishes in Germany and Swedes aren’t just noted for their meatballs, they’re known for kissing and spitting on the bride and groom—yup, a very Swedish thing, I’m told.   So if a young man places a whale’s tooth in your palm, I’m guessing that you have to be a father, and the young man is asking for your daughter’s hand in marriage—a Fiji thing!
If you know of other slightly strange wedding traditions, I’d love to hear from you—Mahalo— David. See my website for more stories about weddings, especially in Kauai where I spend much of my time filming brides.IMG_7613

 

Surprise “will you marry me?”

In movies and television commercials we see it all the time: the proposal that brings on instant tears of joy and the most passionate kiss in the history of kisses. In real life, I’m sure the moment really does brings on tears of joy—when it really happens. Reality is less than one in three proposals really come as a surprise, not that getting engaged is something less because the couple has had numerous candid conversations about marriage or that the decision has developed slowly,  sometimes over a period of months or even years and it’s not really a violins and tears singular moment.  But when it is a surprise, when it is a jaw-dropping, knees-shaking earthquake of a moment, it’s magical, not just for the couple but for any bystanders who get to witness it. As a photographer, wedding cinematographer, I often shoot engagement couples. Rarely am I asked to help plan the moment,  “will you marry me?”  When I am asked, I find myself acting life a covert agent, hiding behind a tree or lurking in the shadow of a building—after all, I’ve got two professional cameras on me, slung over my shoulders.  I must not be seen until the exact moment; I have to watch for the special signal and then emerge and fire off my shots quickly so that I don’t miss anything: him kneeling, the ring, her shock and tears. It’s like a TV commercial moment, a Zales or Jared Christmas commercial only it’s real. IMG_6959-compIMG_6970IMG_7051IMG_6978Can I be a part of your magical question and capture the moment in photos or video? Please visit my website: Kauai Video Productions to see much more of my video and photography portfolio.

Mahalo

—David

Cutaway, Reversal, and Don’t Cross the Line.

I’m David Marsh, a wedding cinematographer in Kauai and this piece is basically about me, what I do and why I’m different.  So what’s “Cutaway, Reversal, and Don’t Cross the Line?”  If you are a professional filmmaker, it’s everyday spoken nomenclature. Perhaps many wedding pros know these terms, although I’ve met plenty that don’t. But…ostensibly, film production protocols aren’t necessarily needed to film a wedding, right? That’s not what I believe! I believe there’s a story to be told in every wedding. On the HOME PAGE of my website I write: “I imagine first then shoot—having a script is how I produce high-end wedding videos that are crafted for originality and paced to be entertaining.” I also say, “a story has to have a story, you can’t call it a story when you show up at a wedding with a video camera and shoot some nice looking footage!”

These film philosophies run through me veins, as taught to me many years ago when I was a supernumerary/ apprentice at Pinewood Film Studios in England. Seventeen at that time, I’d quit school early because I hated school. My training started with brain fodder: knowing the difference between emulsion and celluloid, the difference between key numbers and reel numbering, to know butterflies, HDMIs, scrims, tying in, and a million other things—a training that  lasted ten years. I worked my way up the ladder, becoming a  film and TV editor, then a director of independent art films, before I decided to DP and write. After three decades in the film and TV business, I decided I wanted to be a writer of fiction. To facilitate my dream, I segued into wedding cinematography and wedding photography so that I could still earn a living. What I learned is shooting is shooting, however big, however small, it has to be done right or not at all.

To this day, I get really excited to go out and shoot. For photography,  I like to use two cameras, one strapped over each shoulder, so that I can easily switch focal lengths without changing lenses.  For video, I mostly shoot with three cameras, but sometimes four of five.  You might be surprised to know that complex video shoots require fewer cameras.

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wedding photography by David Marsh.

More about me at Kauai Video Productions