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An earthquake on your wedding day
May 21, 2008 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Wedding photographers captured the exact moments of the earthquake in Sichuan, China.

The source of the pictures are hosted on a chinese site, which can be found here. It contains additional photographs.
posted by spacesbetween (59 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
Simply amazing.
I've NEVER seen anything like that.
Marvelous, spooky find, spaces!
posted by Dizzy at 6:01 AM on May 21, 2008


Holy moly.
posted by loiseau at 6:06 AM on May 21, 2008


Good god. Wow. Those photos are amazing.

Those are gonna be some serious wedding day memories for that couple!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:06 AM on May 21, 2008


.
posted by sciurus at 6:07 AM on May 21, 2008


It seems unclear, did 33 people survive or did 33 people perish?

Really moving link, thank you.
posted by randomination at 6:10 AM on May 21, 2008


crazy, almost looks like a fashion shoot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was thinking the same thing, Brandon. It looks like something that would appear in the NYT Sunday magazine, or something. Eerie.

Amazing find.
posted by rtha at 6:14 AM on May 21, 2008


The bride looks more miffed than freaked out..."This was supposed to be MY day!"
posted by Pecinpah at 6:14 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Those look genuine. I was 2 miles from the epicenter of the Loma Prieta in 1989 in Santa Cruz. That was a 7.1 Richter Scale main shock.

Because it was in California, most of the buildings stayed up (there were already construction regulations that helped most of the buildings involved remain structurally sound), but almost all brick, concrete and stone buildings either collapsed or were structurally unsound after the main quake or the aftershocks.

Almost all the chimneys came down, and where I was (downtown Santa Cruz), two brick or mostly-brick buildings totally came down. Those were responsible for most of the deaths we suffered in Santa Cruz proper from that quake.
posted by kalessin at 6:17 AM on May 21, 2008


Why would they NOT be genuine?
Is EVERYTHING suspect?
Just asking.
posted by Dizzy at 6:19 AM on May 21, 2008


Whoa. They almost look like movie stills.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:24 AM on May 21, 2008


Wedding crashers indeed.

Amazing that the photographer didn't cut and run. The bride must have been more scary for him than the falling bricks.
posted by three blind mice at 6:26 AM on May 21, 2008


Dizzy, I don't know. I thought I'd put in my 2 cents. Hostile much?
posted by kalessin at 6:29 AM on May 21, 2008


The bride looks more miffed than freaked out..."This was supposed to be MY day!

Maybe also wondering where the 33 buried people were.

Simply amazing. The presence of mind to keep shooting in such a disaster must always be a terrible one to make, if such a moment comes to the photographer. That instinct is not always there.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:33 AM on May 21, 2008


Honey, did you feel the earth move? Because, for me, like, the earth moved.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:33 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


'shopped. Totally. I can tell by the pixels.

But seriously? Man - that's gonna be some wedding album: "See? That's your Uncle Ningda, that must be ... cousin Wei? Yeah. That's when the church fell down, and ... ooh! There's the limo! Squashed flat of course, but never mind ..."
posted by kcds at 6:34 AM on May 21, 2008


That's what it looks like when Bridezilla goes on a rampage.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:37 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not hostile, dear kal.
That's why I put the "Just asking".
I truly want to understand why you thought there was a possibility for fakery.
Others have commented on their "moviness" as well, and I wonder why.
Please forgive me for rufflling your feathers.
posted by Dizzy at 6:40 AM on May 21, 2008


That last picture of the church is amazing. "God"s wrath is apparently indiscriminate.
posted by self at 6:46 AM on May 21, 2008


very good use of the earthquakeify tool on photoshop - or they built a movie set and collapsed it, or something - it's obvious.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:46 AM on May 21, 2008


The presence of mind to keep shooting in such a disaster must always be a terrible one to make, if such a moment comes to the photographer. That instinct is not always there.

Having the presence of mind to keep shooting through someone else's disaster is hard enough, shooting during your own disaster... that's another level. The natural instinct to run from falling objects is pretty strong.

Props to the cameraman (or woman). There's a real professional.
posted by three blind mice at 6:48 AM on May 21, 2008


Wow, the stupid jokes seem really out of place given the fact that 33 of their closest friends just got buried in rubble.

Also, it does look like a lot of the photos were 'sweetened' in photoshop the way wedding photos often are, at least a little bit, which is a little annoying.
posted by delmoi at 6:57 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The first link was blocked from work, but the pictures from that second link. Holy shit, that's amazing. Unreal.
posted by absalom at 6:57 AM on May 21, 2008


Dizzy, no problems. A suggestion for future such interchanges is that I (among others) interpret capital letters as shouting or very intense emphasis. If you want to avoid that kind of misunderstanding, you may wish to investigate other alternatives (i.e. not using emphasis at all or using some other form, though I don't know if italicizing would have ruffled my feathers less in this case for instance).

Some of the pictures are really clear, which is probably a function of camera settings used for the light/area and anticipation of having to snap off quick shots of moving marriage attendees, but could arguably be used as "evidence" for arguing that the pictures were faked (I certainly wouldn't do so but I could imagine others doing so).

I want to second three blind mice here too. When I was in my smaller earthquake, seemingly without willing it, I went from being in a bakery to being outside and running for the most open space possible. I can't imagine not doing that in an earthquake almost 10 times stronger. I can't imagine having the presence of mind to just keep shooting things falling down around me.
posted by kalessin at 6:58 AM on May 21, 2008


Props to the cameraman (or woman). There's a real professional.


My thoughts exactly. When I saw these, I thought: here is the point where this person goes from "earning a crust doing weddings (like 90% of all photogs)" to "real photographer capturing real events".

Inspired work. Looks like Nachtwey's stuff.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:59 AM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's some shit, right there.
posted by The Straightener at 7:01 AM on May 21, 2008


Amazing photographs. What a wreck. It must be awful to be looking at that church in the aftermath, wanting to get into the rubble to look for others but seeing those precarious walls still standing surrounding the pile. Terrible.
posted by JBennett at 7:02 AM on May 21, 2008


JBennet, another thing from my Loma Prieta experience. Walls like that are not just visually threatening, but sometimes aftershocks can bring them down on would-be rescuers. So you are definitely right there.
posted by kalessin at 7:05 AM on May 21, 2008


The people seem very un-emotional, cool calm and collected considering 33 of their guests just got buried in plain sight and who knows what else. Maybe it's shock and disbelief.

I heard from a friend of a friend who was visiting the terracotta warriors when the earthquake happened, they were underground at the time. If I was to die in an Earthquake, being buried alive with an army of ancient Chinese terracotta warriors seems kinda cool.
posted by stbalbach at 7:18 AM on May 21, 2008


Wow, these are amazing. The change in their faces from bored "I am now posing for my wedding photos" to shell shocked "holy shit the world is ending" is unbelievable. Very intense and moving.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:18 AM on May 21, 2008


I am surprised at how Western the church and wedding are. Did this couple use any native trappings?
posted by sourwookie at 7:27 AM on May 21, 2008


Hey Alanis, I thought of something worse...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:28 AM on May 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


delmoi, there's a couple reasons why the photographer might have sweetened the photographs, as you suggest. One: they're a wedding photographer and always have been, and maybe they don't have much experience with the sorts of post-processing that's expected for news photography. Two: they're deliberately playing off the discord between the destruction and the happy event. Three: there is some aspect of the "feel" of wedding photography that has more to do with the camera set-up than with post-production. Or possibly you're just seeing something that might be interesting, not so much a confirmation bias as an interest bias.* I can't really see it, but I feel I don't know enough about photography to draw any sort of conclusion like that anyway.

Also, I don't see the "miffed" that people are mentioning. Maybe we're just more used to seeing miffed brides than we are ones who have been shocked to the core.
posted by ErWenn at 7:31 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


All 33 guests survived. Info in the comments below the pics.
posted by pearlybob at 7:42 AM on May 21, 2008


(I don't KNOW how to use italics as I'm DOPEY, Kal.)
But I'm glad we understand each other.
(I'd insert one of those smiley emoticon-thingies for the above sentence if I could, but I peck everything out with one finger and just hit "return"...).
posted by Dizzy at 7:43 AM on May 21, 2008


Commenters on the first link report that the 33 guests were pulled out of rubble, no deaths, and buttress that with babelfish translation.

I want to know more about that church! What an interesting building!
posted by mwhybark at 7:46 AM on May 21, 2008


Come on people! Look happy!
posted by phaedon at 7:51 AM on May 21, 2008


Also, I don't see the "miffed" that people are mentioning. Maybe we're just more used to seeing miffed brides than we are ones who have been shocked to the core.

I had the same thought. Also, as far as the colors and lighting, It looks like the sunlight was being filtered through clouds of dust and they didn't exactly have time to experiment and find the best exposure, so the look some are attributing to post-processing might just be the best they could get with what they had to work with.
posted by TedW at 7:52 AM on May 21, 2008


That poor couple. It must be like having a baby in NYC on 9/11/01.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:54 AM on May 21, 2008


The photos are indeed amazing. But there is something about them that I find incredibly sad; I think it's that sort of shell-shocked look of people who are wondering if they really saw everything that just happened.

It's good that everyone survived. Looking at that church, I wouldn't have guessed that.
posted by quin at 7:57 AM on May 21, 2008


I am surprised at how Western the church and wedding are. Did this couple use any native trappings?
posted by sourwookie at 10:27 AM on May 21


The new rich in China often have ceremonies and banquets in both the traditional and Western styles. Both are usually over-the-top as far as expense. The movie set/fashion shoot feel of the photos is intentional for these pricey affairs.

It's good that everyone survived. Looking at that church, I wouldn't have guessed that.

It says in the link that 33 guests were "missing."
posted by Pollomacho at 8:13 AM on May 21, 2008


Here's more of the sequence, with narration (by a friend of the photographer, it seems). Apparently the church was about a hundred years old - there are before and after photos of it.
posted by casarkos at 8:30 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow.
posted by lekvar at 8:38 AM on May 21, 2008


Wow, the stupid jokes seem really out of place given the fact that 33 of their closest friends just got buried in rubble.

No kidding. The asshole comments here are pretty depressing. There is such a thing as real life outside your comic books and video games, you know.

Thanks for these amazing pictures, spacesbetween.
posted by languagehat at 8:55 AM on May 21, 2008 [8 favorites]


Holy shit. These are amazing. I don't know if I'd have the presence of mind to keep shooting or not in a situation like this, and I kind of hope i never have to find out. Not a particularly auspicious start to their marriage, but as already said this will definitely be an unforgettable day for them.
posted by Stunt at 10:42 AM on May 21, 2008


Come on, it's a... nice day for a... white wedding...
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:57 AM on May 21, 2008


Missionaries were working across China in the late Qing and early years of the Republic and in some parts had arrived even earlier. Where I worked in Sichuan French Catholic missionaries active in the 1890s and subsequently had left behind parishes that revived after the hiatus of the collective era. There were also Baptists (iirc) though they came a little later. I remember the church at Moxi was certainly old enough to have provided shelter for Mao when the Long March passed that way.
posted by Abiezer at 11:21 AM on May 21, 2008


It must be like having a baby in NYC on 9/11/01.
My brother and sister-in-law got married on 9/11/00. Their anniversary isn't as joyful as it should be.

posted by kirkaracha at 11:25 AM on May 21, 2008


*favorites languagehat's comment*

*reads Halloween Jack's comment*

*facepalm*
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 11:35 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


That second pic... it's a "holy sh*t" enough moment, and then you remember it was shot during a wedding. Damn.
posted by azpenguin at 11:43 AM on May 21, 2008


I don't know if this is important to note (it probably isn't), but these photos were almost certainly not taken on the day of their wedding. Usually in China/Taiwan, the custom is to take them on a different day - usually loads of brides/grooms/maids do these at one time, traveling about local sites in a van, taking rotating shots of the different couples and their families in front of any number of different backdrops.

On the Chinese site, it starts by saying that these two were one of several couples that had gone to this hundred year-old church to shoot their wedding photos. The writer also says that he was accompanying a friend to this photo shoot. (I'm reading this on the fly, so I might be getting the details wrong.) The photos were probably taken by him then, and not the wedding photographer (the first shot has the couple looking at something else, I assume at the wedding photographer, while this guy is taking the photo from the side).

These are amazing shots though, and while the photographer rejects calling this bravery (he writes instead that he kept on taking photos because he thought it was the end of the world), it's incredible what he's captured. His captions include only his brief account narrating the experience just after the quake itself, when the group is trying to figure out how much of the world is left.
posted by Herman Hermanson at 1:09 PM on May 21, 2008


Via Shanghaiist, here's the same photos on a MySpace slideshow; they are definitely getting around the web today

Amazing photos, terrifying scenes
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:32 PM on May 21, 2008


I realize this isn't really the point of the photos, but did anyone else think that was a friggin' huge crew of people to have for a wedding? Looks like they had a gaffer for chrissake.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:00 PM on May 21, 2008


These are absolutely incredible...

the one dude in the black t-shirt and on the cell looks underdressed...
posted by wangarific at 8:40 PM on May 21, 2008


The bride looks more miffed than freaked out..."This was supposed to be MY day!"

Yep. Check out the 8th picture down. That' exactly what she's thinking. I can't blame her, though, she probably had no idea of the amount of destruction. And my wife would've felt the exact same way.
posted by zardoz at 9:03 PM on May 21, 2008


I realize this isn't really the point of the photos, but did anyone else think that was a friggin' huge crew of people to have for a wedding? Looks like they had a gaffer for chrissake.

In China they usually take the wedding pictures before the actual wedding day. The picture taking is a really elaborate affair, with multiple locations and different outfits. I actually think it makes more sense than taking them on the day of the wedding, no annoying cameraman getting in everyones faces and the guests can look at the pictures at the wedding.
posted by afu at 10:13 PM on May 21, 2008


That's what happens when you get a church that's made in China.
posted by redteam at 11:41 PM on May 21, 2008


我们和周围受灾的村民一起展开自救,不幸中的万幸,在教堂拍照的三十三人全部脱险。 "We and the villagers around showed our ability to save ourselves, and in the midst of a myriad misfortunes, all the 33 people who were doing photography in the church escaped from harm."
posted by jiawen at 4:28 AM on May 22, 2008


.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 8:09 AM on May 22, 2008


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