Was I really seeing five brides trashing dresses in one place?

During a motorcycle ride over the past weekend, I went to Oakland beach in Warwick, Rhode Island. I was enjoying the view and watching one wedding photographer at work with a bride as she rolled around in the ocean water as she “trashed the dress.” When I looked farther down the same beach I saw four other brides and photographers doing much the same thing. It is true, it was a particularly nice Saturday in August and a good day for a wedding. Still was I really seeing five brides trashing dresses in one place?

According to Wikipedia, the idea behind brides “trashing the dress,” is:

“Trash the dress, refers to a style of wedding photography that contrasts elegant clothing with an environment in which it is out of place. Usually brides decide to have pictures taken on a beach, but other locations include city streets, rooftops, garbage dumps, fields, and abandoned buildings. The bride may effectively ruin the dress in the process by getting it wet, dirty or in extreme circumstances tearing or destroying the garment. It may be done as an additional shoot after the wedding or as a declaration that the wedding is done and the dress will not be used again. It is seen as an alternative to storing the dress away, never to be seen again.

Mystified by what I was seeing at Oakland Beach, I started to ask around and found that out that what was going on was a photography workshop titled: Trash the Dress Photography and Model Event of the Year! Two photographers, Donna Dufault and Scott Erb had organized it through the Worcester Photography Meet-up Group. You can read more about that at: http://photo.meetup.com/22/calendar/10782514/

After I understood what I had seen, I started thinking, that such a workshop is actually a pretty good idea. Photographing weddings in general is very stressful on photographers. I imagine photographing a bride who is destroying a potentially costly dress would be doubly so. If I did wedding photography today, I certainly would consider paying to attend a workshop where I could practice “trashing the dress.”

A workshop that is focused on one topic is much more specific than what I usually teach, but it still serves a purpose. Workshops in sports, food, and architectural photography can serve a similar purpose, giving you a bit of a baptism by fire without the risk of “real” flames.

Now, I am not trying to endorse trashing wedding dresses. Nor am I pushing the Worcester Photography Meet-up Group, though it looks like an interesting group. What I am suggesting is that one way to evaluate if a workshop is worth your while is to ask will it help me practice something I want to get better at?

Some workshops deal in larger, broader concepts, like the photo-essay or street photography. Other workshops are much more specific, like how to photograph a bride as she “trashes the dress.” One is not better than the other but both will make you a better photographer.

On my way to the beach I was playing with reflections in the chrome headlight casing on the front of my motorcycle. Here are some favorites.

3 responses to “Was I really seeing five brides trashing dresses in one place?”

  1. I remember the last wedding I shot; afterward, I smashed a Leica M6 against a stone baptistery as a statement that I would never photograph another wedding again.

  2. the best part of all of this is jnicholas’ comment!

  3. Oh God! A Leica!!! Here in Brazil the “new” trend is “photojournalism” wedding… Still… No way!

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