I tell stories.
I’ve resisted the label storyteller for the longest time, but the truth is that is what I am. What I’ve always been. People invite me into their stories, be it for a moment, and I try and re-tell them my way. Often the stories tell themselves, they lead me by the hand and all I do is listen to what I’m given.
But this time.
I really don’t even know where to begin. The story I’m about to tell is more complex than any other, yet it’s as simple as breathing. A couple of years ago, Jacqui and I went to Ubud in Bali for the first time. Serendipity lead us on winding roads to the small village of Sayan. We rented a beautiful house for a week, overlooking the Sayan Gorge and as soon as we arrived there, my whole body reacted in a way it never had before. I have never felt more in tune with a place, it felt like the world and I were finally breathing in sync. When we had to leave Sayan, I knew I had to come back one day.
When Elora and Rajiv contacted me about their Bali wedding, they never mentioned where in Bali they were getting married, but from their first contact, I knew I had to shoot it. I was meant to shoot it. It took me months to understand why. As it turns out, Elora grew up in the house next to where we had been staying that time in Sayan. As a girl she had been playing in the rice paddies of the Sayan Gorge dreaming that she’d one day would marry her prince charming there.
Elora’s father, John Hardy, raised his family in the heart of Bali, and once you visit Sayan, you will understand why.
Elora met Rajiv in NYC. There he was, the prince of her dreams. Because that he is, a very, very charming prince. I ramble now, and I realise I will never to explain everything about this wedding to you, all the ins and outs, so I’m just going to present it to you. I need to explain a few things though. The wedding took place over three days. The first day John took the guests of a wondrous hike, explaining how the Balinese irrigation system works, showing us all how the farmers grow and harvest rice. It was hot, wet and extremely humid, but i still felt a strange connection with everything I saw, my senses turned on the max, the hairs on my arms tingling. After the hike we finished up with lunch down by the river before people took a soothing dip in the spring pouring over the cliff from the Hardy residence.
Later that night, all the guests met up at Bambu Indah for the first celebration, an Indian ceremony and the craziest dance party I’ve ever seen.
Day two started early. Elora’s dress was made from fresh Jasmine flowers and she was later sewn into it. A bridge had been made from bambu and on that Elora and her father walked across the river to the ceremony. Later we shot the portraits in the rice paddies where Elora had played as a little girl before me met up with the guests in a village close by for the reception. And here I know my images can’t show you the glory of what I saw. The reception that night took place under a large Banyan tree, I have never seen anything like it before. As you’ll notice, there aren’t too many traditional wedding details in this post and that’s because Bali itself is the detail, the fabric of these days, and that’s why the images can’t show you what it was like.
Day three. Elora and Rajiv were blessed in a local ceremony before they invited the locals to a feast under the stars. About 500 people were fed and several times I had to remind myself to shoot the magic in front of me. It was just so much to take in.
I know these images can’t tell you the whole story, there’s no way they can explain it to you, but hopefully they will give you an idea.
All I can give you is a glimpse, show you a fraction of what I saw, a taste of what we all felt.
The week before the wedding Elora sent me an email with a photo of herself.
It simply said,
It will be just like this.[audio:https://www.box.com/shared/static/m24jrfcm57koa27lf3mc.mp3]
music credit: Balmorhea – We Will Rebuild With Smooth Stones (iTunes)