For those that know Dom you may be forgiven for thinking from the title of this post that I will this week be musing upon my dear fiancée’s Wallace-and-Gromit-like love of cheddar. Indeed whilst observing Miss Shaw gradually nibbling away at a nice piece of Edam I have often pondered whether she is in fact related to Mickey, Jerry or indeed Mr. Little and have found her preference for dogs over cats alongside her constant gnawing on the furniture conclusive. But it is neither creamy brie nor stinking stilton that I wish to talk about today No the real purpose of this post is to increase awareness of an oft forgotten plight… the terrible plight of the photographer’s fiancé.
Now there are many parts of this responsibility with which one can cope perfectly adequately. After a time you become used to your passenger leaping from the car, rolling towards the church and arising, camera in hand, poised to capture the incredible expression on that guest’s face before you’ve even stopped your vehicle. This is not really a problem, although there are only so many replacement car doors one can purchase when they fail to close it behind them… and it is slightly embarrassing when they do it on autopilot before remembering they’re not photographing that particular wedding… The eventual necessity for vertical opening doors and a fast getaway force many of these poor souls to purchase Lamborghini’s.
One also becomes perfectly used to frequently being called upon as some form of caddy with a camera bag… “Shall you be requiring the sandwich or the 35mm 1.2 for this shot ma’am?” These, along with the inevitable critique of every photograph one takes and the requirement to be the one who has to kneel down at the front in the mud when said fiancee is photographer at a wedding at which one is a guest are accepted parts of the job. There is one part, however, that has exerted a deep physical and mental strain upon photographer’s fiancé’s around the world since the dawn of film. I speak of course of the constant perfection in posing expected of the photographer’s fiancé.
Few have survived the crippling dimple strain from long hours of smiling nor retained the full propensity of their sight under the constant barrage of flashes being directed at them as they play test subject to a studio setup. It is doubtless the strain of similar situations that has caused many of the weaker supermodels to drop to a frail size 0, but for the photographer’s fiancé the need to carry heavy bags of equipment means this is not an option.
It is their own wedding, however, that this forgotten minority fear the most. When one is marrying a photographer the pictures take new prominence in the wedding procedures and, as in my own case, the photographer will demand perfect posing and a spotless smile in every shot. It is this smile that is most often a problem area. Wikipedia defines a smile thusly:
“A smile is a facial expression formed by flexing the muscles near both ends of the mouth and by flexing muscles throughout the mouth. The smile can also be found around the eyes… Among humans, it is an expression denoting pleasure, joy, happiness, or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety, in which case it is known as a grimace.”
Unfortunately under the strain and expectation of being fiancé to an expert in the field it is the aforementioned grimace that we are told by our partners so often presides over the photographer’s fiancé’s facial muscles. The smile should be perfect: not too cheesy, not faked (despite being demanded perfectly on cue), not too emphatic so you look crazy but ever present and, without fail, always stating clearly and unashamedly “isn’t my partner just the best thing EVER!!!” (Well, so Dom says anyway!). This is no easy task to achieve.
There is also a strange juxtaposition that often takes place. Whilst the photographer’s fiancé struggles yet generally succeeds under the immense burden of smiling to such uncompromising standards, the photographer themselves, now brought forth from behind the camera, realises that despite telling constantly people what to do they have little idea how to do it themselves. Fear not, however, for if all else fails there is but one thing left to do…