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Thursday Afternoon City Hall Wedding | by Thomas Hawk
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Thursday Afternoon City Hall Wedding

I feel somewhat conflicted about this shot -- which is unusual with me because I rarely feel conflicted about my photography in public spaces at all. Yesterday I stopped by City Hall to shoot the interior of the building and chanced across a wedding in progress. Initially I was two floors above the ceremony and could shoot down at it as in this shot, but I then went downstairs and shot a bit more of it.


The participants were not aware that I was shooting, but this is how I operate. I never ask for permission and think that it takes away from the natural setting of a shot. I've always felt that what is public is public and what is private is private and that anything that exists in the public space is fair game for me to shoot in my ongoing documentary of life.


This young couple getting married was such a beautiful thing. There were four friends witnessing the event and it was obviously a happy time for all of them.


After taking this and a number of other shots I began thinking that they would probably want these shots. I mean nothing against their friends who were all there shooting with their point and shoots, but I thought that I got some interesting angles and views of their ceremony. This would obviously be a special time for them and there was not a pro shooting the ceremony. I began to think about things in my own mind and thought that maybe the reason for a simple wedding at City Hall for a young couple with no pro photographers was a financial decision, etc.


So after shooting the couple I did something that I rarely do. I approached them and identified myself as a photographer and asked them if they would like me to take some photos of them that I could send to them. I was hoping to make contact to send them the photos I'd shot and maybe take a few more more formal portraits for them. It was an awkward and uncomfortable moment. I think the couple, and especially the bride, was a little freaked out about this. She commented that they already had photos from their friends and politely declined.


So I never made contact with the couple and can't get these photos to them. On the one hand I think they might really like them. They might be thrilled by them. I mean my photos represent a unique interpretation of a really significant time in their life. On the other hand perhaps I'm seriously invading someone else's privacy, I just don't know.


And then there is this whole other conversation that goes on in my head that reminds me that this was a wedding in a big public space and that I feel some kind of pull to document the world around me in all it's beauty, truth, fear and pain. This definitely qualifies as beauty in my opinion and to that extent it makes me want to share it with the rest of the world.


Perhaps I'm being overly sensitive... but then again perhaps I'm rationalizing. Like I said, this shot is an unusually conflicted one for me.

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Taken on April 6, 2006