I love creative challenges and this commissioned work from summer 2019 is probably something I’m most proud of. Photographing actors is fun - they wanted something truly extraordinary and different and not just another series of pretty pictures.
We threw a lot of ideas on the table but nothing seemed to really spark the fire until one of us half-jokingly suggested that Kristjan could be a mermaid (merman?). And that was it. Sadly, Kristjan did not end up as a mermaid, simply because his legs were too long for the tail. However it all worked out even better than I had imagined.
I styled both of their outfits with random props found from theatre costume rentals, Tuuli made a mossy crown for Kristjan and we picked a summer afternoon in the hopes that it would be sunny and warm. It was not warm at all and Maris was shivering most of the time. But this is Estonia and our summers tend to be like that. However all the shivers were completely worth it ♥️
Models: Kristjan Lüüs & Maris Lüüs
MUAH & Water crown: Maret Ubaleht
Earth crown: Tuuli Luiga
Location: Pikakari beach
Leigo is truly a one of a kind venue, a beautiful countryside estate situated on a picturescue landscape in Southern Estonia, between scenic hills and mirror-still lakes. It’s a great spot for couples who want to have their wedding outdoors, and both the ceremony and reception at the same place.
Siret and Simon both went to study for an Erasmus semester at Bordeaux École de Management and met at the welcome dinner for foreign students. They spent most of the evening staying outside together discussing history, philosophy and conspiracy theories. Shortly after that they became inseparable and four years later they finally got engaged.
I love working with international couples and these two lovebirds were no exception. When I first met with them, Siret told me that their date was chosen according to the blood moon that was supposed to rise on their wedding eve. From that moment I knew that this wedding was going to be something truly special.
Photography: Siiri Kumari & Ivar Sestakov
MUAH: Maret Ubaleht
Bride’s bonnet & apron: Malle Schutting
Venue: Leigo turismitalu
Folk dancers: Anneli & Andi Villenthal & grupp
“Siret is by far the craziest person I have met in my life, but people who don’t see anything but the chaotic outside layer, just don’t get her. She is smart and her mind takes every discussion to a different level. The word “boring” doesn’t exist in her vocabulary. She upholds her principles and what is important to her with ultimate commitment and to the level of self-destruction. Knowledge – Perfection – Power on a professional level. Family values – Tradition – Social Conservatism on a personal level. She is also creative, musical and loves board games. Every holiday trip is an adventure, every night-out a philosophical discussion, every jam session a musical delight. Her soul is Estonian, her life-style is French and her mind interstellar.”
“Simon is by far the least crazy person I have met in my life, but people need to see further than his super-organised outer layer to get him. He is wise and his mind rationalises every discussion. The word “messy” doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. He holds his family and friends is great esteem and his personal relationships he faces with ultimate commitment. Simon loves Excel sheets and Harry Potter. I mean, seriously, in another life, he would be the book-keeper of Hogwarts. He is musical and sometimes agrees to play board games with me. Simon has somehow managed to tolerate (and perhaps even tame) me for over five years, which says a lot about a man.”
The first meeting point for their guests was a Sacrifice Stone in Tartu Toomemägi. These stones can be found everywhere in Estonia, were and are still common places to bring offerings to your local forest spirit. Nowadays, it is also a common tradition to bring flowers to get your marriage “spirit approved”. So naturally, Siret and Simon went through a few sacred rituals along with their closest friends and family, and after that their car corso took off to Leigo.
However in Estonian weddings the bridal couple cannot get to their venue so easily, and we were stopped on the way so that the couple could prove their strengths (chopping firewood for Simon, and for Siret, installing a car seat for a baby). After the strenuous tests the local folk dancers gave them a beautiful performance.
And finally in Leigo Simon tied some ribbons to a stork’s nest as it’s supposed to bring you a lot of babies.
What amazes me the most about Leigo as a wedding venue is the way the bride arrives to the ceremony. Sure, you can walk down the aisle, but you can also stand on a silent, slowly floating raft that takes you to the ceremony island. I think everybody cried when they saw Siret there on the raft, draped in a cathedral-train veil. I definitely cried.
After the ceremony we had some alone time for portraits. I always recommend my couples to get at least 30 minutes, ideally up to one hour for the bride’s and groom’s photoshoot. This kind of images are the ones you will want to put on your wall later, these are the most beautiful, emotional, happiest photos of you on that day.
Their reception was one of the loveliest that I’ve ever photographed, with lots of speeches, singing, games and rituals. And when everybody had written their blessings to the newlyweds, Siret and Simon opened the dance floor with Ólafur Arnalds’ “Particles”.
We waited all evening for the red moon but unfortunately the cloud cover was so thick that you couldn’t see anything, so we proceeded to cut the cake (and I will never forget how the bride played the piano as their guests walked in).
For the grand finale they had a beautiful fire show on the lake. And just as the show ended, the clouds finally cleared up and the blood moon rose over horizon, making Siret’s dream come true.
I was so excited when Thea and Eugene asked me to photograph their wedding as their venue Kõltsu manor is one of my top favourites in Estonia. It’s such a fairytale house with the most beautiful woods and seaside - and apparently the sunsets there are amazing as well!
Thea and Eugene made a lot of their wedding decorations themselves (such as the swing and the vinyl record seating plans… I’ve never seen anything so original!) and it blended wonderfully with the pastel flowers and golden geometric details.
I photographed their wedding from morning preparations till the last slice of cake together with my second shooter Malama.
Photography: Siiri Kumari & Malama
Film: Innar Hunt
MUA: Marii Lotta
Hair: Ivika Nurk
Dress: Lilli Jahilo
Wedding planner: Meiliin Soome
Venue: Kõltsu manor / Kõltsu mõis
Florals: Mariliis Piik / Floart
Wedding dinner: Põhjala Catering
Stationery: Sipelga Letterpress
Cake: Ristikheina café
Band: Anna Kuchinsky