One thing I love about weddings is bearing witness to the blending of families, cultures and traditions into one. Take, for example, Lucy and Mauro, a British and Italian couple who live in London but were married in the bride's mother's hometown of Moledo, Portugal, where the couple usually spends summer vacations as part of a family tradition.
"It was a truly authentic Portuguese weekend," says photographer Sarah Sloboda, who explained that Lucy's mother, a fine artist, designed the centerpieces and arranged for traditional musicians and dancers to perform at the reception. The bride wore a family heirloom veil that was once housed at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
"I wanted to capture the feel of the place, the sunlight and the feeling of family and friendship," explains the Los Angeles-based Sloboda who is well known mostly for her kids photography. "The place has a long family history and is full of memories for them, so I wanted to play up what was unique about that specific day, like being inside and outside of the church on the cobblestone streets, which is a place they don't normally go when they're on vacation. I also grabbed shots of the family members in what they were wearing that day, their facial expressions, what the light was like, and the overall vibe, to try to create a sketch of what that day was like."
Sloboda shot the day with "a Canon 7D, a Voigtlander Bessa-R stocked with expired slide film, and my trusty iPhone." After dark, she used a mounted flash on her camera, and continued to use existing light with her iPhone.
"Mauro is a fine artist, and Lucy works for a gallery, so they liked the artistry of my approach, which is grounded in the history of old-world street photography. They liked that I'm a pure photojournalist —shooting in proper documentary-style—and loved knowing that they'd hardly ever have to stop and pose for photos throughout the day."
Sloboda says she took one large posed group shot with both families, and the couple posed for about five minutes of portraits outside the club where they held the reception. "Everything else was candid."
"This trip lives in my memory as one of the highlights of 2013. The family welcomed me, and treated me like one of them. I was in close quarters with the wedding party for about four days, in a small town where I didn't speak the language. Meals were family style, with no less than 30 people at a sitting. It felt to me, as an American, like a heartfelt way of doing things, and which never skimped on quality of experience. It really was an honor to be there."
Sloboda wrote an entire blog post about the experience, which you can read here.
Also check out Sloboda's unique approach to kids' photography in Rangefinder's upcoming July/August Portrait Issue.