Unconventional, Unpredictable, Always Cutting Edge:
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER GIGI CLARK
through the crowd—her trusty Hasselblad stowed safely at her
After pausing to fire off a few frames of sweaty but smiling wedding guests doing the Macarena and the Electric Slide, Clark scans the crowd and gets ready for her next shot. Spotting the bride and groom in the far corner of the dance floor, she maneuvers through the gyrating bodies until she's only a few feet from the happy couple.
"I believe in total immersion," Clark laughs. "You can't get close enough to the action."
While keeping a steady rhythm going, she puts the Hasselblad to her eye and aims it at the bride and groom. As the groom leans forward, Clark bends back and trips the shutter. Snap. As the groom leans backward, Clark dances forward. Snap.
"I don't mind if they're laughing at me, because a lot of times that's the expression I'm looking for," she explains. "Most photojournalists want to be as unobtrusive as possible, but I try to get right in the thick of things. A photographer is like a mirror. If you smile, they smile. It's like being a performer."
"I'm not afraid to tweak wedding photojournalism for emotional impact," she says. "I act like a comedian, I make jokes. For me, a joke is like an 'invisible ball,' which I throw out at every wedding and watch as it bounces around.
I'm a firm believer in breaking the ice."
To some devout photojournalist-style wedding shooters, what Clark is saying is nothing short of blasphemy. But this non-conformist could care less—she's gotten pretty used to going her own way.
"I literally follow my heart," she says in explaining her shooting philosophy. "It may not sound that original, but it means a lot to me."
Clark attributes her eclectic style, which jumps from artful b&w prints to hyper-romantic sepia-toned images to eye-catching four-color photos, to her diverse educational background. Along with being a photographer for most of her life, Clark holds four college degrees in a range of related subjects including multimedia, instructional design, graphic design, and conceptual art.
She adds that the fact that she has been hearing impaired since birth has been pivotal to her development as a photographer.
"It has its challenges, no doubt," she says. "But a big part of photography is studying faces and that's where I shine. It's absolutely been an asset. "
Along with the exquisite detail in her images, Clark's known for the exquisite attention to detail she spends hand-crafting her wedding boxes—her version of the classic wedding album.
"The boxes satisfy my artistic leanings for sculpture and installation art," she says. "They allow me a way of saying: 'Here it is, all wrapped in a bow. It's finished.'"
Made from eight-ply ragboard ("Nothing but the best," Clark boasts), the boxes come in all shapes and sizes and no two are alike. Equipped with button-shaped "feet," and covered in a rich velvety fabric, the boxes also feature special compartments to store mementoes from the wedding. Many of these mementos, such as the bride's garter, a bridesmaid's glove, or the dried flowers and small candles from the tables, Clark retrieves herself.