WEDDING FEATURE"I've only recently realized that my passion for photography started when I was around 7 or 8. When I would have an especially fun or exciting day, I'd find one thing to look at—maybe a tree, a cloud, a flower—and any time I wanted to remember that day all I had to do was remember that one thing and it would bring the time back to me. . ."
Inspired by her early memories, wedding photographer Priscilla Wannamaker hopes to create lasting memories for her clients-this time, with a camera.
"I know that an image can bring so many feelings and memories rushing to the present," she says. "That's why I photograph weddings with a passion for capturing an image right at the moment it happens. To do this, I have to be totally present in the moment; it's almost a Zen experience."
As It Happens
The hard part is not letting her subjects notice she's part of their moment. "This takes knowing when to move quickly, when to back off, when to move in, when to use a wide-angle lens, when to use a telephoto lens," she says.
Wannamaker uses as little flash light as possible, preferring 800 or even 3200 film and "letting the image show what the mood or ambiance really was, rather than shooting perfectly lit photographs."
Essentially, Wannamaker favors shooting what's happening, rather than creating the action, which "leaves me flat. You can always spot the photographer trying to create a 'candid' moment, like photos where all the groomsmen are jumping up in the air. Now, how many times in real life does that happen?"
Much as a painter selects different media and tools, Wannamaker uses a variety of films to achieve desired effects.
"While my favorite B&W film is Ilford's Delta 400 and 3200, and the color film I use is Kodak's Portra 160, 400, and 800, to get a mystical, ethereal look I occasionally use B&W infrared film. This film only works in certain situations, so I use it sparingly.
"By the way, when traveling by plane, I always demand a hand check of my film, especially infrared, which is extremely lightsensitive. In New Zealand one time, I actually had the security person put their hands into this dark bag I travel with to check out the film because any trace of light would have destroyed it."
Anxious to learn more about digital tools, she's signed up for an intensive digital workshop with Denis Reggie this coming May.
"After learning more about it and seeing what's possible, I'll probably add digital to my camera bag," says Wannamaker.
She already anticipates seeing an advantage when shooting the very few posed family portrait shots she takes at a wedding, namely being able to check the shot for closed eyes or turned heads.
Wannamaker carries her "of the moment" style into her promotions, so couples looking for a photographer will know photography is "a part of me, not something totally separate that I only use as a means to make money," she says.
Her images are showcased regularly in Martha Stewart Weddings and Town & Country magazines, and most recently appeared in the new Elegant Bride and Wedding Style magazines. She also has images in the book Legendary Brides. In the fall of 2000, she was profiled on the CNN website under the heading of "careers."