If you first meet photographer Gavin Farrington with his boyish, slightly rugged good looks, you’ll probably associate “the movies” or expect him to step right out of a high-gloss magazine. Well, you’re not wrong – he has modeled here and there! (And you’ll see him doing exactly that, in Ceremony Magazine Norcal, 2016).
But that’s not how I first met him. I met Gavin in his capacity as a very special and highly successful wedding photographer – one who is traveling the world to provide photo coverage at high-class wedding events, and, more importantly, one who is truly passionate at what he’s doing. Curious as I am, I wanted to know whether Gavin had wanted to be a photographer all his life? And how he became an acclaimed wedding photographer? And so many other things!
Little did I know what surprises he had up his sleeve.
Did he plan to become a professional wedding photographer? “Not at all!” is the response – although even as a schoolkid, Gavin’s favorite toy was his little Kodak box camera with its flash cube. Already then, Gavin was equally fascinated by snapping pictures as he was by the technical side of things. He learned all the mechanics that were then still an integral part of photography, including teaching himself how to develop film in a darkroom. In High School, he became the Yearbook photo editor with the added privilege to use the school’s professional darkroom. He bought his film material in “bulk” and rolled his own film cartridges. Because of him, the school’s long-abandoned photography curriculum was revived.
But still – making this his profession didn’t occur to Gavin. In College, he double-majored in Design and Multimedia/Web design. He worked throughout his College years, and all his jobs took him into the computer/IT field. He drifted more and more into the tech area – “I’m a tech nerd at heart,” he confesses with a smile – and while wrapping up his College degrees, he was approached by the Dean who had unsuccessfully tried to fill an IT/administrator position in the department from which he was about to graduate. Would Gavin be interested? He was! And that’s how he became the Systems Administrator for the graduate and undergraduate art departments of his College – and stayed on for a full five years. Still, that job wasn’t enough. He studied Japanese on the side, just out of interest in the culture and the language.
Eventually, he became restless, seeking new challenges. In a radical change of careers, he moved to Japan to teach English. He became totally immersed in this new world, and he is fluent in Japanese to the present day… another thing I would never have expected! During a visit home to California, a photographer friend of his asked Gavin to quickly help out with one of his assignments – shooting a wedding. And all of a sudden, Gavin knew what he had subconsciously been seeking all these years: the beauty of human relationships, the intensity and at the same time the intimacy of the moment, all revealed on this festive day, the sheer joy of the occasion.
For Gavin, there was no turning back from this sudden revelation. He wrapped up his job in Japan, returned to California and started preparing for the new career he had become so passionate about on that momentous day, helping his friend. There was no holding back for him – and let me tell you, if Gavin has made a plan, nothing will stop him. Constantly striving for the highest quality – technically and artistically – Gavin the wedding photographer has made his way to the top over the past years. His unique style has gained him an enthusiastic followership. He is the master of the tender moment, capturing these priceless images that his couples will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Looking back, what has changed in photography since his early photo adventures and darkroom work? “Digital photography has liberated us,” muses Gavin. “It allows us to shoot as many photos as we want, unencumbered by handling physical film and no longer limited to composing every single photo with deliberation. Digital photography allows us to take a lot more risks and enables us to capture the fleeting moments we might have missed with conventional technology. It gives us so much more flexibility in perfecting every single photo “after the fact.” It does not, however, cut down on the work.”
In fact! For every single wedding event, Gavin (including assistant) takes 6,000 to 8,000 photos. It’s mind-boggling! Then come the long hours of sorting through and perfecting what passes this test – 120 to 180 hours easily. It truly takes dedication, perseverance and passion to do this gargantuan task for every single couple.
I asked Gavin what his favorite wedding locations have been over the years, given that he has done so many destination weddings. His response came as a surprise to me – or maybe not. “Maybe India, or Cancun… or San Francisco City Hall,” he said, and added: “It’s not so much about the location for me. It’s much more about the personal relationships between the bride and her closest family, the groom and his family. My most beautiful weddings were those where the closeness of the families became palpable, and where I felt so privileged and honored to be included in such a pivotal moment in these families’ lives.” And in return, Gavin gives them the lifelong memories of their most beautiful and tender moments, condensed in breathtaking photos. Here are a few of his own favorites. Enjoy!