Text by Elizabeth Friszell • Images by Marie Labbancz
A grandmother sits with her grandchildren, smiling as she flips through her wedding album. That's the scenario wedding photographer Marie Labbancz shoots for.
"My primary goal is to tell the story of a couple's love and their wedding to their grandchildren. I fantasize that in 30 years they are sharing this day and everyone goes back in time."
What Nature Gives You
"I'm the warm and fuzzy type," says Labbancz. "I recall flipping through my mother's and grandmother's wedding pictures. It was wonderful to see them so young and fun-loving. That's what's important. I want to give this memory to each of my couples."
To capture the love story of each couple, she unobtrusively
documents the day as it unfolds, carrying three cameras around her
"neck of iron," as her assistant totes another three. Also on hand:
an array of lenses. "I particularly like to use zoom lenses, such
as the Nikkor 80-200," Labbancz says. "And I favor the Contax 80mm
for depth of field.
"I bring a camera for each lens, the Nikkor 80-200, the 60 macro
lens, black & white photos, and infrared photos. I'm artsy,
more photojournalistic. It's not like portrait photography where
everyone is seated and posed. If you stop to change the lens,
you've lost the moment."
Labbancz relies on the dedicated TTL flashes with her three
Nikon F100s and Contax 645, which free her to savor the emotions
and beauty of the day. "I can't be bogged down with technical
things and equipment. I focus on composition and creativity, not
metering and setting up light stands."
Ten years ago, she says, that trust wasn't there. But today,
cameras are far more advanced. While she hasn't gone totally
digital yet, Labbancz recently added the Nikon D100 to her cache of
equipment. While she's "dipped her foot into the digital waters,"
she isn't quite ready for a full immersion. "There's a learning
curve," she says. "I didn't learn film photography in one day, and
I'm not going to learn digital in one day."
For a typical wedding, she brings eight to 10 types of film:
100-1600 color, 3200 black & white. "I use it as my palette,"
Labbancz says. "I know what I'm going to get from film. And the
high-speed films of today allow me to catch the natural ambience of
each place. With lighting constantly changing, I think the best
pictures come from what nature gives you. I'm driven by where the
light is falling at that time of day and the weather conditions
Labbancz often uses a video light to capture the glow of an evening reception that room lights lose. "I use 1600 color with on-camera flash and black & white film without flash. I have my assistant follow me with an adjustable video light to enhance the ambient light in the background. It makes the reception pictures really glow. It's also great for black & white outdoor pictures at night, to shine a little light on the couple, and for rooms so dark you can't focus."
As the exquisite images in this feature illustrate, Labbancz
captures the magic and intimacy of a wedding day with the eye of an
artist and the heart of a soul mate.
"In the opening photo (p. 30), the bride was getting dressed,
standing backlit by the window, waiting for her bridesmaids to
fetch her veil. I grabbed my F100 loaded with Tri-X set at 320, and
focused on the detail of her neck."
Using her Contax camera, 80mm, and Portra 400VC, Labbancz
catches brides in intimate moments, as in the photo on p.
"The bride's father came into her dressing room before the
ceremony. When he told her how beautiful she was, she burst into
tears. I used available light from various sources to capture this
special moment for daughter and father."
At some point during every reception, Labbancz and the couple
escape for some quietude to capture their first moments as husband