By Diana Grant
Thirty years or so ago, I went round the UK (sponsored by Fuji) to give seminars to my fellow professional photographers on how to photograph weddings.
There were three other English speakers and we each had a couple of models for practical demos. But also they brought in an American lady photographer whose belief was that all male wedding photographers should wear a wedding dress to experience what it is like! She had tried it once before, but it was not an idea that was well received by the UK audience.
She wanted to show the audience what she meant and needed a "willing" volunteer. As I was the only male photographer speaker who did not have a beard and was slim I was "persuaded" to do it. We had a dress supplier exhibiting, so I was fitted out, but just the dress. I would do my program, break for coffee, then get into the dress.
They did not give her and easy time, but in fairness to her, she was right. I did get a better understanding by wearing the wedding dress. Long trains do drag you back. This I conveyed to the audience – my honest photographer's opinion (not the TV version) as they had just heard me and seen my work, so they knew I would not mess about. During the lunch, I got some stick after changing back, but some seemed interested.
The first time was just the dress, but we had six seminar dates and thereafter, it went up a notch. I think she had guessed I liked it. Hence, the next time she asked if I would be prepared to make it more realistic. After some “fake” denials, I said, "Yes."
Would I be willing to do full lingerie, heels, the works and then the dress? Yes! I sort of gave it away when I was able to walk in 3-inch heels with considerable ease for the "first time." Oops!
Thereafter, they changed the running order: she came on first and I came on after lunch, so after breakfast, I was taken to the dressing room and made ready. Therefore, when it all started, I was already in bride mode. She did her bit explaining her concept and then "one of our speakers has agreed to demonstrate." I walked on to a huge applause and the surprise. ( It felt good). She showed the heels (with stockings evident) as part of her explanation. Murmurs from the audience followed.
Millions of questions were asked, but she was good enough to tell them it was her idea for me to dress for her and go so far for realism. I did get some quizzing later.
The last seminar was in London and now the running order was established and worked like a dream. She did her bit and I was the bride. I had given up all pretense of not enjoying it and stayed as a bride as long as I could get away with it. But had to change back for my talk..
After my last program in the final seminar, the lady speaker asked me since I was obviously loving it, if I would like to be a bride properly? "Yes, please!" So soon I was back in all my wedding finery. This time though the makeup lady was ready with wig, veil and makeup. A couple of the models helped me out and we did some posing
One of the other pro photographers took some images for me and gave me the films to process.
For a few years after, I would get wise cracks from fellow pros who were there, but all in good humor.
At the time, I was out and about in public fully dressed and I was quite confident how I looked. But wearing the wedding dress as a man in front of others the first time was something strange. Ironically, once I had all the lingerie and shoes on, I felt happier. I think it was because I was doing it for a reason, so it seemed right.
My obvious enjoyment from wearing the dress spoke volumes to the speaker! My plucked eyebrows and shaved body may have pointed her in the right direction, too.
Probably the only time I will ever be a true bride. It was fun and actually nice to recall.
|Womanless wedding in Australia, circa 1960|