Friday, June 30, 2006

Saying Hello to the Colonel

So, back to Luodong's delightful wedding photo industry.

As mentioned earlier, I was a giant among men, sadly for nothing but genetic factors. While Ariel's selection of dresses was narrowed down to 20 or so potentials [if you counted the variety of princess dresses that would be gaudy in whatever context they were in], my choices were even slimmer. While Ariel got to narrow down choices and make the best selections of a less than ideal grouping, I was inevitably forced to choose the lesser of two evils. It's very rare that I've had the opportunity to select clothing on the basis of what is the least ugly but it certainly is an experience. Adding to hilarity of the wardrobe situation was the photographer's assistant who was made my de facto fashion consultant. While this young woman was very sweet and well intentioned, she should stay clear of work in anything related to fashion in the future. Despite my pleas of "No, I will under no circumstances wear a hot plum suit." She, without fail, would come bounding down to the dressing area carrying an outfit that the greater portion of pimps in the Chicago metro land area would blush at. Only after some minor grappling and repetitions of the mantra, "No, these things do not go together. In fact, they don't match at all." I was usually able to construct a passable outfit from my limited offerings. One thing that struck me about their offerings was the total lack of bowties. Despite having countless offerings of tuxedos, there was nary a bow tie to be found to put on the shirts. Although my helper continuously insisted that a traditional western necktie was suitable for that style of shirt, I was never convinced. Despite this lack of bowties, they did have accessories that can be generally classified into two categories: the first, the D'Artagnan (or Errol Flynn), a delightfully poofy neck covering that resembled a pile of carefully wadded up tissues that only elicited my desire to accentuated my "Arrrrrr" sounds. The second option was the Colonel Sanders, a delightful short tie that had a tasteful stud in the middle and, once on, made me crave mint juleps. In a delightful coincidence our lunch that afternoon included fried chicken, I took it as a sign and did my best to emulate Foghorn Leghorn with a smattering of "I do say sir"(s).

Despite these less than ideal clothing options, the experience was definitely worth it. Probably the best way to describe is bizarre. In some ways, the whole experience reeks of those "Ole' West" photo shoots but in others, its a great deal more personal than a number of traditional western wedding photographs. Whereas the focus of traditional wedding photography in the states closely elides the ceremony with the individual participants, this series, through the highly artificial dress-up nature of it, really places the focus on the couple. The experience is not about the fairy tale aspect of the settings or the clothing [in fact, I consistently found myself trying to imagine ways out of the clothing] but rather on the playful nature of the couple themselves. This is not to say that I'm rearing to set up another appointment, just that I'm glad I got over my initial dismissive attitude towards the seemingly plastic nature of many of the photos.


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