There's a story behind every wedding photography session and most of the fun of blogging is telling that story. We met Manuel and Isabella at the Bridal Spectacular show a short while back and later I found out that they came all the way from Spain and bought tickets to the show *just* to see us and book a wedding photography portrait session! That has never happened before and I was absolutely speechless – it was the best compliment I have ever had in my life!
We had originally planned a shoot out at the dry lakebed in Jean, NV and a word of caution is in order – there's a "good road" to get there and there's the road I accidentally took. Yeah, I bet you know where this is going. By the time I realized I was on the "wrong" road, I was two feet in very loose sand and our little Impala was spinning its wheels. I really, really hate my car. I always thought of the Chevy Impala as this massive beast with an engine that made me want to do a gutterly grunt like the Toolman on Home Improvement, but this thing is like two gerbils running in a wheel, only one of the gerbils has arthritis and the other fell asleep. Only 111111100033 more payments to go and this baby is all mine! :p
Now heh, if you've been following my blog for a while now, you'll remember that this is not the first time we've been stuck at the dry lakebed and it probably won't be the last. Science fact: When stuck in snow or sand, the best method is to let some of the air out of your tires (around 10LB of pressure) to increase the surface area on your tires and thusly increase traction. I literally tried everything BUT that.
But here's the thing – every situation is surmountable and as long as I can press the shutter release button on my cameras, I'm going to get my shots – photography is just too important to miss. I've had my pants split minutes before a wedding, I've been pooped on by a giant bird, I've shot weddings with broken femur, whiplash after a car accident, days after close relatives passed, with walking pneumonia, bleeding scalp and every other manner of injury and illness, but I was going to be darned if I was about to let a little sand stop us from having a great shoot with good people that thought so much of us that they travelled across the world to work with us! More importantly, no matter what's happening, I'm going to shoot with a smile on my face.
The sweetest thing was, they were more worried about our car than the shoot and I was more worried about the shoot than our silly car. Honestly, I would have still done the shoot if our car was on fire (it IS insured…hmmm) – vehicles rust and go to the junkyard (which mine will long before it's paid off); digital photos last *forever*; photos – especially wedding photographs – are more important than *anything* in my opinion. Plus, the sun was setting, making these ultra cool highlights and so we grabbed our strobes, reflectors and gear out of the trunk and did the shoot just twenty feet away from our car.
Y'know something? The desert scrub and mountains looked way cooler than the lakebed and if I had it to do all over again, I'd get my car stuck on purpose, just to have the chance to check out a new spot.
Manuel is a Spanish military police officer, so rather than a standard wedding tuxedo, he had an absolutely bitchin' (can I say that word?) uniform and I was like "aaaaaaaaah YES!"
When we met at the studio to go over the shoot, we went over the shots that we liked best and I told him the story behind each photo on our wall and how important it was to take charge and show true genuine emotion. I told them both that what I wanted to see was passion and fire for each other and just forget there's even a camera there. That Isabella did not speak English didn't bother me for one moment – passion and love are universal languages and despite what might look like staging in our portraits, what we capture is raw energy and emotion. When two people are truly in love, there's usually no difficulty in showing it on camera. Besides, I rarely say anything important during a shoot – I just hop around all hunched over like Smigel from Lord of the Rings, shouting out nonsense camera settings and saying "yes! beautiful! more! Ooooh!" over and over again. If you've ever watched a photographer on any movie or television show, that's me – I'm a complete cliché – like Barney the purple dinosaur all hepped up on Red Bull.
But I digress….The first shot is one of my favorites, as it was entirely unscripted. Isabella was wearing an amazing ten foot long veil and I had a vision of a 'matador' like scene with the long end of the veil blowing in the wind, with Manuel and the deep golden sunset behind it. As we were getting into position, Manuel happened to look at me for affirmation that he was holding the veil correctly and I instantly snapped the shot. Isabella happened to be looking down at the moment and they were both holding hands at the time.
When I looked at this shot on my screen, there was something so subtly powerful about this image that it was moving and will surely end up on my gallery wall very soon. Manuel looks absolutely powerful on camera – strong, brave and overwhelmingly masculine, which is exactly what shows well on camera and Isabella looks absolutely stunning with a hidden strength and feminine pride that adds passion to each shot (she is also a police officer!). But the gentle way in which he worked with his new bride was such a beautiful juxtaposition and had this amazing timeless quality to it. And yes, I *am* trying to make everyone forget that I drove into sand like an idiot….and it was probably working right up until I said that…
In all, we actually only shot for around 30 minutes, but there was so much emotion and subtle changes to each shot that I ended up with almost DOUBLE the amount of edited shots we normally end up with during a portrait session – almost DOUBLE – and it will go down as being one of my favorite all time shoots.
Words cannot describe how much I appreciate Manuel and Isabella's patience and support – with positive thinking, what could have been an absolute tragedy turned out to be one of my favorite wedding photography sessions. Bless you both from the bottom of my heart and if I live to be 200, I will always remember you fondly, my friends
…oh and in case you're wondering, we got out of the sand courtesy of a winch and several broken chains, but like a television sitcom, everything always works itself out in the end :p