Miranda and Reilly Lievers are photographer husband and wife duo at Blue Olive Photography who captured Cinnamon and Galib Bhayani’s intercultural wedding in Vancouver. I sat down with them at their Gastown home studio over looking the Pacific Ocean for a Q & A session.
Faiza: Why did you choose to be a wedding photographer?
Miranda: It was kind of by accident. We were into other types of photography. This one time Reilly booked a wedding and in a panic he made me come with him. We found that really rewarding and fun. I know what the photos from my parents and my grandparents weddings look like. These photos will stay with the couple for generations to come. Their children and their grandchildren will be looking at the pictures we created for them. There is no better job than this in the world.
Reilly: We enjoyed it so much that we’ve been doing wedding photography for eight years now. We’ve photographed over 200 plus weddings.
Faiza: How many mixed/intercultural weddings have you covered?
Miranda: About 25-30 per cent of the weddings we have covered were intercultural. Especially being in Vancouver you come across many as it is a very multicultural city.
Reilly: The trend seems to be growing and we are getting more and more mixed culture weddings as time goes by. More people are stepping away from traditional roles and people tend to choose partners different cultures with much more ease than before.
Faiza: Have you found that Vancouver is particularly more focused on mixed unions than other cities?
Miranda: Vancouver is definitely unique because the city has a very multicultural character. We have covered weddings in Edmonton and Calgary where there is less diverse population. Majority of the people living there are Caucasian. Here in Vancouver due to the large number of mixed population you will see more mixed culture weddings
Faiza: What challenges have you had to face on intercultural shoots?
Reilly: Language mostly. Spending an entire day in a room where people are talking to each other in entirely different languages can be a bit tricky. You have to watch body language to understand whats happening. Because we shoot in a very photo journalistic way we have to pay attention to whats happening and why its happening when there are four different languages floating around in the room.
Miranda: So it has happened that the bride’s family is speaking Cantonese and the grooms family might know only English. Both families may be experiencing the same thing as us where they are unable to understand the language. So we follow along and understand the traditions that way.
Faiza: Can you think of a funny story that happened on a mixed wedding shoot?
Reilly: One funny story we had was at a Hindu wedding . The groom had not really been prepped for what ceremonies will take place. He sat there looking stunned the whole three hours while the couple had to walk around the fire. I think he really wasn’t prepped at all. He did not realize he had to all these traditional ceremonies. His eyes got wider and wider and wider and by the end of the day- he seems pretty exhausted
Miranda: (Laughs) Yeah that was pretty intense.
Faiza: Have you noticed any common trends among intercultural weddings in Vancouver?
Miranda: One of the common things we have noticed mostly with South Asian and East Indian weddings is how the timely and untimely things are. Some of our clients affectionately call it “brown time” . Things will just run an hour late, or two hours late or some times even longer. We have had scheduling conflicts that way. We worked with a wedding planner who just had done western weddings and she was planning this south Asian wedding. She was panicking because everything was running late.
Reilly: It wasn’t really even that late…probably by like 45 minutes which was actually pretty good for us. We were the ones who were trying to let her know that everything was fine and things were running on time as was expected for that wedding.
Faiza: So you guys were the experts on mixed weddings there then?
Miranda: (smiles) Yes. We were. We had worked with clients from different cultures before.
Faiza: Any outrageous demands mixed couples make?
Miranda: Probably the number of family photos that are expected in some cultures. It is important to capture photos of literally everybody that’s there . We have had a six hundred people wedding and we have had to go through a whole bunch of family photos in a very small amount of time. It is not impossible and it can be done but it requires the cooperation of everyone that’s involved in the shoot.
Reilly: We don’t tend to get a lot of outrageous demands. We’re pretty laissez faire about how we do things and what somebody thinks as an outrageous demand might really be status-quo. So we go with the flow. A lot of our clients come from outside Vancouver to get married here. We also get a lot of clients from mixed cultures who come here to get married.
Faiza: Makes me want ask another question. Have you asked people why are they choosing to get married in Vancouver?
Miranda: People have ties to family here, some have lived here before, or studied here. Simply also because it s beautiful place. It is cheaper to go to a tropical destination and Europe or the US. It is actually more expensive to come to Vancouver to get married as compared to a destination wedding. Its more expensive to have a wedding in Vancouver than other places.
Faiza: Which one was the most unique multicultural wedding?
Miranda: I think the Chinese and Filipino wedding. It was such a great combination of two cultures. They had the filipino cord and veil ceremony, the 13 coin money dance followed by the Chinese tea ceremony. It was very elegant.
Faiza: Thanks so much for your time Miranda and Reilly. I think you have one most special job in the world.