“Blessed are those who can hear the music of life.”
Sometimes, as the sun sets and the birds begin to call out their evening song, one cannot help but be beckoned to adventure, to sample the sweet night music that so often floods summer streets, gilding souls and hearts with its ebullience.
Such was the case when I visited merry old England recently as part of my work as a destination photographer—caught up in the hubbub of vibrant London, I decided to seize the night and venture out one evening with a friend of mine for a game of pool. As neither of us was all that familiar with our surroundings, we turned to Google, which led us to the Mau Mau Bar on Portobello Road.
When we arrived, we found that there was no pool table present after all - but there was something even better: Live blues music. Being fans of blues and jazz, we decided to stay, and to grab a glass of good wine and toast to whatever melodies the night may bring. Surrounded by the mystical transcendence of beautiful voices, I let my soul loose in dance, having not a care in the world as the notes lifted me higher. It was the perfect setting for my muse, as it turns out—during a trip to the bar, I bumped into Aleph, one of the musicians who had been playing. Sparks met artistic tinder and before I knew it, my camera was in hand, guided by the intangible vibe that emerges when many imaginative people congregate together.
Aleph, a 35 year old Venezuelan guitarist and musician, was kind enough to agree to an impromptu portrait session, even though he only had 30 minutes to spare between gigs. We hurried outside and I quickly made the most of the vibrant colours on the walls around us, finding them the perfect complement to Aleph's effervescent spirit. Much to my amazement, he was willing to dance on the street and smile his heart out, letting his unique personality beam through the lens like a warm ray of evening sunshine.
While the source of Aleph's radiant glow might have seemed mysterious to many, I had a good idea where it likely came from: His eyes were alight with the passion of a person who is not guided by obligation to material necessity so much as the thrum of God-given gifts. His dreams of being a musician were what led him to London, no doubt in the face of many obstacles and at least some criticism, and today he is so much in demand that his days are packed with gigs - a sight it did my heart good to see.
Being a destination engagement photographer is not all about planning, about carefully-staged shoots set in tranquil gardens and luxurious hotels. On the contrary, often the best gifts come to us photographers amidst the hustle and bustle of life, on busy streets crowded with strangers caught up in the whirlwind around them.
Recently, my work took me far away from sunny Croatia, into the foggy heart of London, one of the largest cities in Europe. Naturally, I could not resist doing some exploring, so on one fine Saturday when the sun broke through the clouds, crowning buildings and shimmering along the Thames, I went out for an adventure.
As on any fine summer day - rare in rainy England - the streets were packed with vivacious people, with tourists, families, young people, and of course, couples. The atmosphere was akin to that of a great carnival, with everyone out to worship the sun and revel in the joyousness of being alive.
I was therefore not surprised to hear lovely music emanating from Piccadilly Square: All Of Me from John Legend danced on the breeze, amplified by the voices of a choir which stood on the steps before a beautiful young woman.
Years spent working as a destination wedding photographer - along with having been born a romantic at heart - has given me a keen eye for love unfolding, so I immediately noticed the nine red roses in her hand. “Ah ha!” I thought; “Someone is about to get engaged.”
Everything after that moment happened in a flash of emotion and inspiration: As the lyrics crooned, "'Cause all of me loves all of you", a young man stepped out in front of the choir, and my camera found its way into my hands. Astonishment and tears dawned on the face of the bride-to-be as her handsome prince knelt down before her, professing his devotion for all the world to see. “Yes!” was of course the heartfelt answer to his question, and thunderous applause erupted all around - along with tears of joy dampening the faces of total strangers - as my shutter click-clicked away.
I felt on that day like I captured something too precious to be described in words - the moment love comes to full bloom, the moment it overflows its cup and spills into the souls of all those around it, a wave of joy rippling out through the great sea of humanity. I wished in that moment that every couple could preserve the memory of such beauty, create lasting impressions of something so perfect and so fleeting, so that it might never slip away.