Picks and Pans Review: Dreams & Schemes: Love and Marriage in Modern Times

UPDATED 05/18/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/18/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Abigail Heyman

In the taking, most wedding pictures are as much a ritual as the rituals they record. From the procession to the bouquet toss, with the stolid table-by-table attendance shots sandwiched in between, the pictures are like the documents couples complete before taking their vows: The form is standard, the details are individual. But much more goes on at weddings. Photographer Heyman, head of the Documentary and Photojournalism Department at the International Center of Photography in New York (and twice married herself), shot "hundreds of weddings" in a hybrid role she defines as "part guest, part photographer, part friend, part confidant, part consultant and in large part ignored." Whether in a photograph of a man carefully setting out chairs for an outdoor ceremony or of a groom stroking his beard and pacing, Heyman shows how ennobling and unnerving the wedding ritual is. She shows that all the formalities—the corsages and tuxedos and toasts—as well as the silliness and sentiment, are ways of dealing with the awe and anxiety weddings bring to the surface. Heyman understands that, consciously or unconsciously, sobbing or laughing, people at weddings are confronting the mystery of time and the fact of human mortality. Her book pays cautious, unsentimental tribute to love and faith as the best armament we have against the void. (Aperture, $32.95)

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