Last weekend I got asked to photograph an event at the local Standesamdt (the City Hall) where my Persian friend married her German-English husband. She asked me at her bachelorette party, where booze was present and male strippers were not. I was shoving my Nikon in its carrier as we were stepping out into the surprising warm November air, protected from the Heidelberg breeze by coats donned over our black dresses; a strict dress code the bride’s colleague and event planner had politely enforced upon the guests while the bride herself arrived in a white silk blouse over a black skirt. She was later gifted a pearl necklace and two white flowers ornamented with black feathers to sit on top of her brunette head. Although having a wardrobe on the verge of explosion (my wardrobe did cost us a trip to IKEA, where only Tim‘s German skills could explain that although nothing was broken, only special screws could hold the rail, heavied by my extensive urge to shop) I would not need more than one hand’s fingers to count the black dresses I possess, not even one hand, a forefinger, thumb and ring finger would suffice. I have convinced myself that my olive complexion and head of ebony hair does not wear black attire flatteringly. I believe the reason behind my inclination towards colours, even though I tend to be attracted to the darker shades, springs from my mother’s constant reminder that “a young woman should never wear black.”
Tim was spending a week in Los Angeles, where time wasn’t the only disparity, but also the weather. He receieved a text conveying the news of my new appointed responsibility, and confirmed what happened to be my own concern. “That’s an honour, but also a big responsibility” he punched back.
I told myself that I will skim through some photography websites and blogs to get some ideas. Finding that too overwhelming of a chore, I decided to stick to my own “eye” instincts and merely shoot photos of my two friends getting married. I borrowed Tim’s Canon, not only heftier in size but also in retail price. His 18-135 mm zoom lens gave me a wider frame allowing me to fit more family members in one picture. With the bride being from an Iranian family, who had traveled to Germany against the odds of visa restrictions and currency issues, my 50 mm fixed lens would not cut it (actually it would if we are speaking literally, leaving me with a handful of pictures where fewer people would be in the photo than those who had been automatically cropped out), though I still prefer to take the majority of my pictures with my own lens. The bokeh achieved is just remarkable, giving it the extra hint of professionalism that any amateur photographer would be hoping to achieve. Two cameras strung on a shoulder and around my neck gave me another layer of faux-professional impression. Not bothering about being a discreet photographer I slipped into my raspberry red swing dress robbing myself of any chance of camouflage among the guests, and had Tim drop me off at the Standesamdt forty-five minutes before the ceremony was scheduled to start. The bride, as every Persian, was late. The hairstylist had not been in much of a rush, sending the bride to her nervous groom and their family and friends a good fifteen minutes after their appointed time. I was pleasantly surprised when the German bureaucracy did not make too big a deal of them missing their slot and gave them the next available appointment that day, leaving me with forty minutes to take pictures of the couple and every single guest, including the groom’s teething niece who had a habit of abandoning a parent chaperoning her and roaming the hall’s floors on all fours.
That morning I had put a pot of chicken soup on the stove after blending the filet pieces with the rest of the vegetables and emptied a cup of cream into the gurgling orange liquid before heading out, leaving it to slowly cook while I was away. That proved to be a good decision since I later came home to a boyfriend who had taken the day off only to realise he had to answer work emails and dial in conference calls, making his morning no different from a home office day, leaving him no time to eat or prepare anything before my arrival. I handed him the cameras and headed towards the kitchen. Being a fellow photography enthusiast, he needed to be called to lunch more than once, the last attempt was me standing in front of him, my hands clutched into fists, resting on my hips. I can be aggressive when I’m “hangry”.
After two bowls of soup accompanied by steaming bread pieces so hot they had to be thrown from the oven on a nearby plate before being dipped into the mixture of carrots, onions, chicken, lime juice and a small pinch of saffron for the yellowy-orange effect to later find their way to our hungry mouths, we decided to pick and choose the photos that would make the cut.
We ended up with 280 files which were each meticulously examined and edited by Tim. I need to expand my knowledge of digital photo editing. As mentioned in my About Moi section, I am a fan of unedited photos. The authenticity is incomparable to those retouched and modified. But a wedding ceremony calls for a collection of better looking pictures.
“It’s going to be a long weekend” Tim laughed stretching the word “long” on its vowel.
The next day we were invited to a “small” celebration consisting of the bride and groom’s immediate family members and closest friends, adding up to thirty people. I had trouble explaining to Tim what the party was exactly.
“Well obviously it’s not an engagement party” I started “it’s not the wedding either. It’s the civil ceremony’s after-party” I told him before making sure he packs a tie in cohesion with my purple one shoulder dress on his next trip from his apartment to mine.
“I thought she said it’s a very Iranian party” he said referring to the invitation text the bride had sent us emphasising on the “dancing” aspect of the party. “Are you allowed to wear ties?” He likes to make ignorant jokes, trying to sound like an uninformed Westerner just to yank my chain.
We returned from the party with bellies filled with Chelow Kabab Koobideh and Barg, Fesenjan, Dolmeh and Salad Olivieh, jovial from champagne buzz and exhausted from hours of dancing. Tim impressed the Persians with the dancing skills he had acquired after a summer full of Iranian weddings. His “Beshkan“s, though still more on the silent side than on the loud clicking side, are getting better and not only did he introduce himself in Persian and throw a few “khoshhal shodam”s and “be omide didar”s in conversations, but had me surprised with a round of Kel. Walking across the dance floor to me with his bright pearly smile he said: “Are you proud of me?”
“Why?” I asked kicking off my high heels.
“That Kel you heard just now, that was me!”