My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite. – Shakespeare

Many people describe their wedding day as a blur. A blur of smiling faces, teary eyes, momentous promises, glamour, celebration, family and passion. A good photographer can return to you those memories that have tangled together by the end of the day.

Yet squashed in there somewhere you also want a photo shoot that is dramatic, passionate, romantic, relaxed, creative, fun and memorable in its own way. But you don’t want to get your dress dirty or your hair messy. And, let’s face it, you probably aren’t your most relaxed and natural while fretting over your dress, your family, and not being late for your reception.

What if you could set aside a special day just for taking these kinds of photos, and it didn’t matter how you looked at the end of it all. Many couples are doing just that and calling it a ‘Trash the Dress’ photo shoot. While the internet abounds with images of brides covered in mud or paint (!?) my humble opinion is that such an opportunity should be used to pursue the most dramatic and romantic images possible, where all concern for the dress is gleefully abandoned.

It is with this in mind that I made plans for a ‘Trash the Dress’ shoot with the lovely, and newly married Lisa and Clay. Their wedding photos are stunning and wedded almost a year ago they’ve got frames all over the house and a gorgeous baby blue leather-bound album under the coffee table. But Lisa wasn’t happy with her custom-made dress, decided it was taking up too much space in the wardrobe, and wanted to make the most of it before throwing it out.

Lisa knew what I did: if you didn’t care about the dress, well, imagine the possibilities.

Four of us drove to a beach north of Sydney on a stormy February day with a bridal gown in a garbage bag.
This was our last chance for a photo shoot so even though it was pelting with rain we went anyway. It was a long journey but a worthwhile destination.

I have an intimate relationship with this particular beach. It is where, many years ago, my boyfriend and I would escape the city for exploring, snorkelling and canoodling. Then one perfect autumn day he proposed to me here, his knee in the sand, as the sun set over the bay. My memory of that particular sunset is vivid and colourful and I knew that this would be the perfect place to create romantic images worthy of this beautiful couple. As we drove through the rain I prayed that the sun would come out. Incredibly, I was gifted warm sunshine and moody storm clouds, a photographer’s fantasy.

Lisa and I spent an hour or so playing with the wind, the winding boardwalk, the tulle and lace. She, the very picture of glamour, and me wearing old board shorts and a furrowed brow. I waited until the sun had dipped enough to glitter across the water and I sent them into the ocean for the shot that would finally destroy the dress and finish our day.

The incredible beauty of our surroundings, my own precious memories on this beach, and the passion between these two lovers made me want to collapse into the sand as though I was dreaming. But adrenaline kept me sitting on that wet sand gazing through the camera lens hardly believing what I was seeing. I’m so glad the camera saw it too.

Towards the end of our session, I overheard Lisa saying to Clay that although she loves her wedding photos she thinks she will love these shots the most. It wasn’t their wedding day, but we created special memories on the beach that afternoon. I think that is what your mind’s eye sees when you look at an image, you remember the moment it was taken, and if you were enjoying yourself, then you’ll always enjoy the image.

Surprisingly she ended up keeping the dress. Covered in sand and seaweed she threw it in the washing machine and it came out clean and bright. Lisa now wants to keep it for her future children to play ‘dress-up’. I think that’s adorable. I only wish more people were adventurous enough to get their dress dirty.