Tahitian Dream Come True, by Helene Havard [RF Wedding of the Week]

By // July 15, 2015 // Posted in Wedding, Wedding of the Week

Growing up, I never really gave much thought to my dream wedding or the dress I’d be wearing (like many young girls do), but I did always have a fantasy of where I wanted to get married—Bora Bora. I didn’t care about the details of the rest of it, just that I had to be transported to paradise for it! And now I have been, via wedding photographer Helene Havard‘s breathtaking images of China-based couple Shi Li and Ke Gui’s nuptials at the Four Seasons in Bora Bora.


All Photos © Helene Havard

DSC_4811-3-2 _DSC2744-3-2Says Havard of her approach, “Each time I shoot a wedding, I prefer not to know anything about my clients in order to let my creativity express itself. I just listen to what my inner feelings are saying when I meet a couple, and I use my sensitivity to give them pictures that will be an expression of their love. I need to be free to create properly.”

_DSC1843-3-2_DSC1830-3-2DSC_4578-3DSC_4563-3-2_DSC2753-3-2When it comes to shooting in such an exotic destination as Bora Bora, where Havard is based, it seems the creating part would be a no-brainer. But what I just adore about Havard’s images is that having one of the most beautiful locations on earth as a backdrop does not compete with her own unique style or esthetic, which shines in every image she takes. I especially love how she chose to shoot the getting-ready moment below in black and white for a more documentary feel, and how the richness and tonal contrast in this section is just as strong and vibrant as her color work. (Anyone who knows me knows I am a nut about getting black and white right!)

Adds Havard, “My favorites from this wedding are all the ones that aren’t posed, like when the bride and bridesmaids were getting ready, and when one of the bridesmaids caught the bouquet during the party.”

_DSC2284-3-2_DSC2222-3-2_DSC2320-3-2_DSC2339-3_DSC2593_DSC2612-4_DSC2634-3_DSC2659v-2_DSC2540-3-2DSC_4774-3-2_DSC2371-3-2_DSC2495-3-2_DSC2480-3-2It seems hard to imagine any sort of challenges arising during this wedding, but Havard says the weather was actually very cloudy during the wedding. “This is not exactly the type of weather people want to get when they come to Bora Bora, so for the couple it wasn’t great, but I do prefer this type of sky for the soft light and magical atmosphere it provides.”

_DSC2472-3-2She also says it’s not typical to have weddings with many people in Bora Bora, “as this is an expensive destination to bring people to,” she says, “so it was great for me to have fewer people to do less posing with and to take more photos in a photojournalistic approach.”

_DSC2529-2-3-2_DSC2516-3-2“I love beautiful things so I really loved to take pictures of the amazing details the Four Seasons provided. We are living on a very remote island with no shops so it was challenging for the hotel to get things to reflect the personality of the couple, but they managed beautifully,” says Havard.

Helene Havard’s Gear for the Day
Camera: Two Nikon D700s
Lenses: Nikkor 105mm, 50mm and 24-70 mm
Lighting: Nikon SB-900 Speedlight, PocketWizard

Check out more RF Weddings of the Week, and email Jacquie Tobin or Libby Peterson with submissions.


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Jacqueline Tobin

Jacqueline Tobin

Jacqueline Tobin is the Editor-in-Chief of Rangefinder magazine and the author of Wedding Photography Unveiled: Inspiration and Insight From 20 Top Photographers (Amphoto Books, 2009); and The Luminous Portrait (Amphoto Books, 2012). The second-generation native New Yorker cherishes her Sunday mornings hunkered down with The New York Times, fresh bagels and a great cup of coffee.

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