A stand-out experience during our walk along the shoreline of the eastern side of Ha Long (Hong Gai) was stumbling upon a prime location for wedding photography. We know it was a prime location to take photos of brides and grooms (or, most likely, models) because we saw two couples using it for just that purpose.
Our wandering-without-real-purpose led us eastwards along the main road that borders that part of the Vietnamese mainland and my main interest to this point had been directed out to sea and those incredible islets for which Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is most famous. In steep contrast to our rainy approach to Ha Long earlier in the day the clouds had mostly given way to strong sunshine and a rapidly rising heat to go alongside that ever-present humidity so our pace was slow in order to preserve our energy and not force us to rely on the water we’d brought along too early. Taking yet another short breather to stand by the promenade’s railings and scan the area through my camera viewfinder in search of interesting shots I spotted a flash of very bright white ahead of us and close to one of the rocky formations by the shore. A wedding shoot was taking place!
It’s becoming not entirely unusual for us to happen upon wedding photography when we travel now although we’ve never been able to tell whether the brides and grooms are genuinely posing for their own upcoming nuptials or whether they are modelling for some service. Our suspicion is it’s mostly the latter reason simply because everyone we’ve seen has been ridiculously good-looking. I’m not saying that ridiculously good-looking people don’t marry one another but I don’t know any who have.
We took our time wandering past the couple being posed and photographed on the stone jetty jutting out into the water of the bay and entered into the shadow of the large, likely limestone formation nearby. This gave us some pleasurable respite from the sunshine but also provided me with a chance to get some photos with less risk of glare or ambient light affecting the camera’s shutter speed (I almost always take pictures in aperture priority mode to control light hitting the sensor so the speed can vary depending on the lighting conditions). This was when we saw a second couple in somewhat different wedding attire get dropped off by a car and make their way down to the same shooting location.
The contrast between the first wedding couple’s traditional clothing – the long, white dress and veil for her and the dark suit for him – and the second couple’s more modern take – less fabric for her and a fabulous blue-checked suit for him – was good to see. We also liked how the “groom” helped his “bride” get her shoes back on after she’d been forced to remove them in order to clamber down the slope to the jetty (a sensible move as it definitely wouldn’t have been something to attempt in heels).
We weren’t the only people taking photos of the wedding shoot – two other couples who’d been on the Princess Cruises-provided shuttle bus that had dropped us off in Ha Long were following in our wake and taking similar pictures of the events unfolding by the water’s edge – so we didn’t hang around for too much longer before continuing on our walk around the bay. We did search online for a little while after getting back, looking for wedding photo shoots in and around Ha Long Bay in Vietnam on all the usual photo sources just to see if we could find the professional pictures we’d witnessed being taken but to no avail. A shame, as I’d really love to see how they turned out with the sun at the backs of the models and no indication of flash in use.