Photographer for chance, overwhelmed by a passion that completely changed her life. The wedding photographer Paola Calamarà tells about hersef in an interview and reveals her tricks of the trade.
“Taking a nice photo is not enough to me, I want anyone to perceive something in my pictures, be moved and go beyond appearance”.
Paola, how did your passion for photography begin?
My passion for photography began very late. When I was I kid, I often saw billboards in my city proposing photography courses organized by a woman photographer and I often thought that becoming one would have been fantastic, but it seemed impossible to me. Only lately I thought about it again, trying to understand how photography was out of my life for years and is my profession now. I worked for foreign cruise companies for many years. I worked in an office and I had the possibility to travel a lot, not only on board. After many years, I decided to took a year off and I inevitably dedicated time to myself and the things I didn’t have time to do before. Firstly, I participated to a very brief photography course to learn the bases, I bought a professional camera and I went on a photographic journey to Laos and Cambodia with a small group of photographers. I didn’t think of making it a job, but the passion was extremely strong. Back home, I spent all my time taking pictures to everything, so, when I met a photographer, friend of mine, who proposed me a stage at his studio, I didn’t hesitate. After six months of stage, at the end of my gap year, pushed by his advice, I decided to take the challenge and get a VAT. Naturally, it wasn’t easy, especially because I didn’t feel at my colleagues’ level, therefore I worked hard and studied a lot.
How does the story of a wedding develop through the pictures you took?
First of all, creating a connection with the bride and the groom is essential to me. If I can, I try to meet them at least twice before the wedding to know them and make them feel comfortable with me. I make them tell me about their first meeting, how he proposed; I try to get personal, I ask about their families to figure out who I have to photograph… after all, now more than ever there are extended families, it is important to know who the parents or the half-brothers and sisters are not to make any gaffes! The wedding day I get in their houses: that’s why I make sure not to cause embarassment. The closer they are to me, the easier it is for me to capture expressions, moments and spontaneous gestures, bases to my photography. The story of the wedding takes shape through the emotions, the looks and the gestures of the brides and grooms, their relatives and friends. While I shoot, I am involved and I often find myself smiling or being moved behind my camera.
Spontaneous photography, little moments of “posing”, group photos: how does the wedding day develop from the photographer’s point of view?
I follow the bride from the preparation at home or at the hotel. It is an important moment, very inspirational. A lot of feelings are often involved according to the bride and the people around her in that moment. During the wedding, I try to film the events without participating. I never ask to pose, it is a bit like breaking the spell… Only after the ceremony do I suggest to take some routine pictures with the parents and the witnesses and later, possibly when the light is at its best, I carve out twenty minutes alone with the bride and the groom for some couple pictures. In this case too, I try to give as little indications as possible trying to make them interact like I wasn’t there. It is inevitably a very intimate moment when they find themselves alone as a husband and a wife for the first time and it is beautiful to be there to witness that. During the aperitif I often take many pictures of friends and relatives with the bride and the groom, rather than a photo shoot, I try to take advantage of the most beautiful and suggestive corners the locations can offer. Then there are the cutting of the cake and the throwing of the boquet; pictures that can’t be missed among the wedding photos even if the beautiful part usually comes during the balls. By now, the couples and their guests are relaxed and happy and only think about having fun and it is the moment when images full of smiles and happiness are captured.
We live in the age of social networks, of “instantaneous” sharing, always connected, always online, always searching for likes: which changes did all of this bring to the art of photography? And what is the role of post-production?
Sure the changes were drastic. Today we are overwhelmed by selfies, and pictures recording every instant of the day, where we are, what we eat, what we wear and so on, all the same photos passing under our fingers. Once, behind every photograph there was a careful preparation, a study, a pose, it was often unique because it captured an important moment. Post-production is very important with the arrival of the digital. I dedicate a lot of time to post-production but it is a little like plastic surgery: it must not be too evident or the risk is to obtain the opposite result. I still like a classic result, customized, that doesn’t follow the trend of the moment too much.