It was a veritable mishmash of international connections: This Australian couple living in London reached out to the New York-based French photographer (and Rf 30 Rising Star of 2016) Jean-Laurent Gaudy after seeing a wedding he had shot in Tuscany—in fact, they were planning to have an intimate destination wedding in Italy, at the Amalfi Coast.
But no matter where Gaudy is geographically in relation to the couple, it's paramount to him that they connect "in person" (literally or over video conference). "I remember falling in love with Lexi and Cheyne during our first Skype video conference," Gaudy recalls. "We connected instantly, and I think that we all knew we were a perfect match within the first five minutes."
One moment in particular stood out to Gaudy during this wedding, on the morning of the big day: "Cheyne needed to be alone to prepare for this and finalize his vows. He left the hotel, took a walk among the beautiful little streets of Amalfi and went to the beach, and I followed him discreetly. He sat down, a notebook in his hands, and enjoyed the view quietly. He scribbled in his notebook and read his vows. A few moments later, his Best Man joined him. They spent some time talking and laughing, and it was such a privilege to discreetly witness this pure moment of friendship and intimacy."
The guest list was relatively small—Gaudy had only about 30 people to navigate around during the celebrations, and he also became "an integral part of the event," he says, "just like their friends and family. Instead of treating me like a 'vendor,' they made me feel like a guest who was also there to take pictures. I was invited to the rehearsal dinner and met everyone then, had pizza with their parents, drank a beer with their friends... All these small gestures create a fantastic human experience. It only makes me want to deliver my best work to them."
As usual, though, not everything was storybook-perfect. As Gaudy says, "The weather can be your best friend or your worst enemy! And on that day we had it all."
Everything was fine as the couple got ready, and even the ceremony was safe from Mother Nature. "But the plan was to take a boat after the ceremony to go to the venue, which is only accessible by the ocean," Gaudy explains, and it began to rain. "Until the last minute, we weren't sure it would be possible to get over there. Finally, between two showers, we were able to make our way to this lovely beach bar on a cove. This place was magical and happened to be the perfect place for the couple's shots that we couldn't do earlier."
Shooting this wedding, Gaudy says, proved what he's always believed: "To give your whole, physically and emotionally, so that the couple reciprocates. Being genuinely myself makes the work so much easier and enjoyable. There were times before when I took clients by fear of not booking enough. It's a real pressure every season. But now I'd rather book fewer weddings and only take the ones I know are a great match. No regrets!"
GEAR FOR THE DAY
Cameras: Canon 5D Mark IV (x2),
Lenses: Canon 35mm f/1.4 LII, 50mm f/1.2 L and a zoom 17-40mm f/4 L "that I only use for the party time," Gaudy says.
Lighting: One flash
Tech: Laptop and hard drive to work on the go
Bag: Manfrotto Manhattan Mover-50 to fit all of the above
Wedding Planner: Claire Taylor of Love in the Lemon Grove