Paris, Dec 6 - The young bride wrote the French word "oui" (yes) on the palm of her hand just in case she forgot the answer to the most important question of her wedding ceremony. Right before she made her vow she glanced one more time at her palm. Gerard Uferas was standing behind her shoulder and immortalised the moment with a shot from his camera.
The Parisian photographer has an exhibition at the moment in the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie and is visiting as many weddings as possible in the French capital. But Uferas's goal is not to take the standard wedding shots.
"I want to show Paris in all its diversity, with all its different cultures that live here together," says Uferas who lives in the multicultural 18th arrondissement.
"The customs are different but in the end they all have the same dream: to get away from the routine of daily life for one day and to celebrate love and the family," says the 55-year-old.
Uferas says it was not difficult to find wedding couples willing to have their ceremony photographed. The photographer sent emails and asked people whom he met by chance such as a young woman celebrating a hen night in Paris.
He also asked a young couple who kissed passionately at a friend's wedding and then decided to get married themselves.
In total Uferas has visited 60 weddings so far to take pictures and hear the couples' stories.
In most cases there were two photography appointments: the wedding day and a few weeks later at home or in a place of symbolism for the couple. One couple had their portrait taken at the bus stop where the groom used to wait for the bus to arrive carrying the stranger he had fallen in love with.
The wedding ceremonies Uferas has taken part in have been as colourful and diverse as Paris's population. They have included hands painted with henna, baskets full of money, garlands of flowers, broken glass, falling flower petals, romantic waltzes and erotic belly dances.
Uferas photographed French, Armenian, Jewish, African, Chinese and Algerian couples. Some of them already had children and one bride was well advanced in her pregnancy. "They all have one thing in common," says Uferas, "they have stepped out of time for a moment and are happy to be together."
Uferas has developed a knack of photographing intimate images where the subjects have forgotten the present moment.
One of his photos shows a bride heartily biting into a baguette on the way from a registry office to a church. Another shows a groom gently wiping away a tear on his bride's face shortly before their wedding ceremony is about to begin. "When I shot that picture I had tears in my own eyes," he recalls.
As soon as the official photographer has gotten the couple into a pose Uferas finds his own perspective on what's happening. His focus might fall on children giggling as they imitate the couple's kiss or on the bride's white shoes set against cobblestones. The exhibition of Uferas's photos is due to open next May in Paris city hall under the title `Paris of Love'. (dpa)
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