Anticipation is a mix of so many things. Nerves, certainly, but also joy, a little bit of slo-mo and some butterflies in your belly. I can feel it from where I stand. The bride is staying out of sight as the others are watching the guests arrive, their conversation light and intimate.
It’s a dusty August day at Camp Colton, a place of many tall trees… birds and chipmunks live there. This little space is set aside from the main event cabin, a quiet place for the women to get ready. I’m standing in the back of the room watching the light play on all of the parts of the scene, knowing it will be a moment maybe forgotten later. There are lots of big parts in a wedding day but it’s the little bits that enrich the history. I push the shutter button quietly so as not to break the spell.
I’m never sure if the players are aware of what’s ahead on a day like this. The general format is similar but each one has it’s own special arc of emotions. The entire crowd will play their parts and her own butterflies will calm as the daylight fades into the party. For now, walking through that sunlit door, she is about to join him in an entirely new journey. Sure, it starts with a wedding but a marriage is what is being born here.
Once upon a time, there were fancy tents erected on a normally sunny slope in Carlton. It was an October day in Oregon, so I suppose they were always in the plan but I had visited the site a few days ahead of the wedding and it was startling to see this empty hillside so suddenly populated.
Brooke and John were expecting a crowd of about 225 for the festivities… imagine that many people in the lush dinner tent… keep in mind that the floor is grass. This site was, literally, a relatively level spot on the slope heading up to the private vineyard. The cocktail tent had a clear ceiling and the ceremony tent had an open wall facing west with a perfect Oregon view.
As the crowd arrived, the Trolley picked up each load of guests waiting at the bottom of the dirt road and ferried them to the party.
I was wandering with the cameras to catch the bits as they happened… nothing should be left out of the final picture of the day. That includes the vendors who pulled this magic out of thin air. There is a list of most of them at the end of this post.
And all through the visible hustle and bustle, the cook’s tent was it’s own busy hive. That tent was off to the far end of the dinner tent. I watched a constant stream of black-suited wait staff and white-coated kitchen staff working under changing skies as they set up for the evening. If you look at that handsome menu, you will see what a feast this was… no mean feat for an offsite gala. After dinner, the crew of Nick’s Italian Cafe received a standing ovation… well deserved.
When my assistant and I left, the rain had stopped and that kitchen was packing up by the light of the moon. ;0)
No matter the size and scale of a wedding, the vendors are the puzzle parts that each couple needs to consider when they start planning.
SW Portland has a lovely secret garden in an old, elegant neighborhood. I will not identify it here because it is a somewhat untrammeled space with neighbors who might like to keep it that way. On an early September afternoon, I had the pleasure of working with Sara and Kathleen and their wonderfully attentive crowd of family and friends. Anyone peeking into that garden was seeing a sumptuous feast and a lot of relaxed, friendly conversations… a perfect combination.
As the day moved towards twilight, the toasting glasses waved in the softer light. At any wedding, you can gauge the deep friendships as you listen to the little gasps and laughing during the toasts, especially with an open mic. This couple has earned the love of their people and it was great to witness that.
At the end of the day, #LoveWins is not just a hashtag. It is an abiding truth and no one should have the desire or the power to interfere.
The wind was up on that September day in 2000… normal, I’m sure, since Rowena Crest is high above the mighty Columbia River. We had hiked up to the crest from a sweet little private property. Ever the Oregonian requirement, everyone wore sensible shoes even if they carried a party pair.
There was a slightly sheltered circle on the bluff where the ceremony was set to happen. The barn, out in the open, was being staged as a place for a toast afterward before everyone was to hike back down to the dinner party. I remember the bright and unexpected sound of many glasses breaking as they hit the gravel and we all looked over to see the tablecloth losing the battle with the wind. It didn’t deter anyone from enjoying the festivities except for the delicate clean up… that took some patience.
After the toasts, while the crowd started down to the party, we took some sun drenched minutes and played with the wind in front of the camera… it was a treat to see them relax so thoroughly in each other’s company.
Dawn and Jenna were pioneers ahead of their time in this lovely wedding outing but they were so perfectly paired I can’t imagine anyone saying nay to them. They met as bike messengers… a very Portland sort of beginning. After the wedding, they packed up and moved to sunnier Colorado and they have been missed here, no doubt.
As a side note, I have been pulling some old favorites from my film archives because I finally have some software worthy of making scrumptious scans. It is almost like having an actual darkroom again. ;0)
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you
~ Paul Simon
In January I had an email from a bride of mine… she said she was ready to make a wedding album. She said she wanted to make an appointment to come make some image choices. All of which is a very normal sort of email to come across my desk. Except, she got married in 1994. Waaay back in 1994. It was all film, of course, and she and her love got married in one of the darkest churches in town on a January afternoon so there were challenges to start with. She had given away or lost her proof books so the only thing left to work with were her negatives. Lucky for her, I had archived those negatives. It will be a challenge but we have started the process and I will talk about that another time. For now, there is a more important conversation to be had.
Here’s the thing… I’ve archived the negatives and the digital files of all the weddings covered in my career. That means if you got married with me or had a family portrait session, unless you have already gotten them from me, I still have your images.
This winter, one of the bigger projects in my home office has been to get rid of the extra layers of stuff that have accumulated over the years… we’ve had a major shredding festival and have emptied out cabinets and drawers to pare it all down to things we might still need. Pretty soon, that clearing will include client negatives and the large collection of CDs with early digital files on them. Film was from 1985 to 2004 and I always retained the negatives. In digital, my clients didn’t get files until about 2012 or so. It’s just time to free up some space… downsizing in place, I guess.
If your memories are important to you, I’d like to help you connect. Please feel free to get in touch because I can’t keep them forever.
I have a new email, by the way… firstname.lastname@example.org
Drop me a line. ;0)
Maia married her Ben at Cooper Spur Resort on a bright hot August day. For those of you from other parts, Cooper Spur is a rustic resort on the northern flanks of Mt. Hood… the drive out is completely Oregon whether you come over the mountain or up from the Columbia River Gorge.
The guests spent the weekend here… soaking in that relaxing pace. When we drove up, the first ambassador was a pint sized youngster with a pixie face… she ushered me in to meet Maia’s parents. It was a great start to a perfectly Oregon wedding!
Over the next hour or so, you could see people heading to their cabins to clean up and change into their party clothes… DJ Dan Moe was setting up for the ceremony and our intrepid officiant, Melissa Coe was out under the trees doing a mic check.
The ceremony was a marvelous prelude to the party… when everyone walked back to the big lawn, they found all sorts of things to do! Among other things was a DIY photo booth, complete with a selfie stick. You could order a Moscow Mule at the bar and watch a few rounds of Giant Jenga. There were flip flops for anyone tired of shoes. There was a pair of old wooden skis to sign in lieu of a guest book… coloring book and bubbles for the littles.
After dinner and toasts, pie was served and the dance floor filled up… off to the side, a shotski was raised. That was a first for me. ;0)
And in one corner of the tent, a table was set for making your own S’Mores… a perfect way to wind down in that twilight of mountain air.
Blogging is something you have to have the time to do if you want to do it well. Apparently, I ran out of time in June. ;0)
Don’t get me wrong, I have a mountain of cool weddings and sweet family work to write about… 2017 was a good year for great clients and it was well paced which should have given me the time, right? Looking back, I’m realizing that there were some dark forces getting in my way… not just the daily run of the mill stuff, either. My husband faced down a major surgery in June… the results were excellent but the early parts of that ride were scary. Ongoing for a couple of years now, my only sister is caught in the rabbit hole that is dementia. We aren’t sure which kind it is yet but it is becoming increasingly evident that she is in trouble… a very bitter pill to swallow considering that she has always been confident, articulate and artistic. Losing those parts of her is heartbreaking and she lives too far away for me to help much. Probably the biggest daily obstacle, though, has been my inability to tear myself away from the headlines this year. The train wreck in our nation’s capitol has been and still is banging around inside my brain and it leaves me no choice but to stay informed and involved.
Life goes on. People are still getting married and having beautiful babies, lawns are still getting mowed and the moon rises and sets on her perfect schedule. I plan to blog several weddings in the next month or so… I don’t want any of you to think I have walked away from this work. It’s too much fun to be a part of it.
Say goodbye to 2017 and let’s put our best selves out there for the coming year, ok?
Miles is nine. His mom was getting married and he was to have a tuxedo for the very important job as a member of the wedding. His excitement ran high that April afternoon, including wanting to get dressed many hours too early… when it was time, his mom steered him through the special buttons and the always cool cuff links. His tux fit very well… something that doesn’t always happen with the young guys. He wore it with style and confidence… the very definition of élan. He wore it like he was born to it.
The day started to roll and this kid, the only one at the wedding, was the epitome of a perfect guest. I was happy to watch him engage with everyone like a grownup… he kept up his end in a way that I would love to see more often.
During the toasts, his was solid and emotional and heartfelt enough to bring some tears around the room. Later, as the dancing ramped up, he was invited to run a song with a stint at the dj’s table… happy as could be, disco lights vibrating all around him.
Spring Fever is turned up high at my house and most everyone I know is wondering when the Vernal Lady will make her usually spectacular appearance here in the Pacific Northwest. We have had two months in a row of record breaking rain… even my die-hard pluviophile friends are beginning to crack. Today is no exception. It is pouring as I write… but there were geese flying northwest over my back deck this morning so maybe it’s almost time. ;0)
So, in hopes of spreading a little cheer, I am posting a photograph from a past Spring wedding… Jenkin’s Estate has this lovely teahouse behind the elegant main house and on this fresh April day, everyone was happy to be standing in the early sun watching two wonderful people make it real.
Are you planning a wedding? Have you taken into account all of the possible flavors of weather you might encounter? I ask because, lately, our tried and true local weather has become less predictable. Portland’s longtime favorite wedding month of August is now likely to bake you right out of your mind. Maybe it’s time to move some of these events over into the shoulder seasons of early Summer or late Fall or to at least consider venues with indoor/outdoor options.
Oops, gotta run… sun is out now and I have a little yard work to do before it rains again! ;0)
Take some time to catch the moments. The littles in your life will change faster than you can imagine and the history of your family will depend on how often you train a camera and a mindful eye on your day to day life. Yes, there is always another load of laundry to do and I’m sure the dog needs a bath but that will be ongoing… your children will be differently little every day. There are some dear friends on Facebook who are on it. They post charming snippets of their kids and will no doubt have photographs to share with them later in their lives. Get your pictures off of your devices and put them in a safe place… you don’t get a Do-Over. That is incredibly important.
If you can, you should hire a pro every now and then to cover your family in a way that you can’t. I love it when my phone rings for a family session. It could be a walkabout in the Pearl District with an ice cream cone or it could be an hour or two spent hanging out at your home… the goal is to put real people in front of my camera and catch what happens. Let me sit on the floor and get to know the kids well enough that they are just themselves when the camera is out… the less direction from me or from you, the better.
I was lucky to have parents who took lots of pictures. The photographs from my childhood were rarely posed. Instead, I can look back through them and remember the houses we lived in, the cats and dog who were part of our tribe and even some pictures of my parents when they were young and beautiful, before time wore into them. That was a gift to me. ;0)
If you’d like to see more pictures of people, young and old, this will take you to my Studio portfolio. Let’s make some history! ;0)