Here’s how badly Amy and Chad wanted good wedding photos for their April wedding at Silcox Hut up on the slopes of Mount Hood:
As I mentioned in this post about their wedding day, they got lucky when it turned out to be nicest day of a cold, wet spring — absolutely clear blue skies, bright sun, no wind. But remember, Silcox Hut is at 7,000 feet. When the sun starts setting, the cold is going to come down around you with goose-pimple-inducing ferocity, especially for a bride in a sleeveless, low cut gown and tiny slippers.
But sunset and the half hour after are some of the best times to shoot. The sunset bathes you horizontally flowing amber light, and the twilight after provides you with rich cobalt blue skies for backgrounds. But at 7,000 feet, with snow all around us (it pretty much buried the hut), I knew I was taking a chance when I tapped Amy and Chad on the shoulders and said, “Now’s the time. You want to do this?”
Did they hesitate? Did they look out the windows of the hut, half buried in snow, and think they’d prefer to stay by the fireplace? Nope! Not for a moment! Off we went into the clear, icy world.
Here’s a shot of the two of them, standing as though in an icebox. I know it’s a cliche right out of a love song, but if they weren’t shivering (and I really don’t think they were), it’s because they had their love to keep them warm.
Maybe they were warmed, too, by the thought that they were going to Hawaii for their honeymoon two days after the wedding. And shorty after they got back from Hawaii, they got their wedding photos!
And here’s how they warmed up my day after seeing their photos:
Over the years, I have photographed several same-sex weddings in Portland and around Oregon, and I am always struck by the way in which the emotions that usually hover around a wedding ceremony – love, humility, gravitas mixed with nervous good humor — are accompanied by something else.
As I see it through the camera’s viewfinder, that something extra seems a mix of accomplishment, relief, courage, pride, and perhaps mostly, surprise. To get to this point of publicly declaring their commitment and love, the gay couple or lesbian couple no doubt has had to navigate many more unnerving barriers than a heterosexual couple. Perhaps the surprise comes from the experience of having come through a fire together and finding each other not only unscorched by the flames, but wholly clarified and radiant. It’s a humbling thing to witness.
I’m writing this a couple days after New York State passed legislation allowing same-sex marriage. And I’m wondering, as the barriers to same-sex marriage inevitably fall, will that sense of accomplishment, of having achieved something difficult for the best of purposes, be a thing of the past? If so, what remains — the simple act of publicly committing to a long-term relationship – should suffice.
Amy and Chad got married back on April 23, in one of the sweetest places you can have a wedding in Oregon: Silcox Hut. At 7,000 feet the hut sits 1,000 feet above Timberline Lodge on the slopes on Mt. Hood, and with that kind of exposure, in mid-spring, you should not be surprised by fierce snow blowing by at 50 miles per hour.
But Amy and Chad are blessed. In one of the wettest, coldest springs on record, they were awarded the best day of the year to date for their wedding — absolutely blue skies and no wind. And just before the sun went down, it lit up the mountain for us, just in time for some romantic shots of the newlyweds.
May such blue skies and sunshine accompany them always!
I’ve posted most of the photos from the day online. You can go here to view and/or purchase them.
In the meantime, here’s a cool gallery of photos from the day. Click the arrow in the middle of the screen to start the slide show. Once the show has started, you can also toggle the “full screen icon” on the top menu bar to see it in HD. Try it!
A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous. — Ingrid Bergman
When I’m planning to shoot a portrait, among the first questions I ask is whether the model has a prop they can bring to the shoot — something they have an emotional attachment to, that they feel comfortable with, and that helps express who they are and what their interests are.
Props are an invaluable tool for photographers. They relax the model by giving them something to do with their hands, something to think about instead of the camera’s relentless gaze.
So here’s the first of a series of posts on my favorite props. And this first post is devoted to umbrellas.
Umbrellas are a wonderful multi-purpose prop. Umbrellas can:
- Shade the model’s face from the glaring sun.
- Give the model something to do with their hands.
- Provide an interesting compositional feature:
- A colorful umbrella also makes a wonderful backgrounds for a silhouette. As you can tell, this red Japanese umbrella is part of my kit bag.
- Finally, an umbrella can serve well for its original intended purpose: protect from the rain — always a handy prop in the Pacific Northwest:
“When you smiled you had my undivided attention. When you laughed you had my urge to laugh with you. When you cried you had my urge to hold you. When you said you loved me, you had my heart forever.” — anonymous
Here’s a good way to spoil your wedding day: make your guests stand for a half hour or longer in a receiving line.
From the perspective of the wedding photographer, a receiving line is a dead zone. A photographer can only take so many photos of people embracing. And photos of people hugging have their own inherent problems. Usually, one head of the embracing couple is obscuring the other, and it’s hard to see who’s doing the hugging. (The secret to taking a good photo of people hugging is to shoot it either as they’re about to embrace, or as they’re parting. That way you capture both faces glowing with the anticipation of a hug. But again, how many of such photos do you want?)
You might think that the a good wedding photographer might focus on the people waiting in the line. But through the viewfinder, here’s what I have seen again and again: people sighing, rolling their eyes, shifting from foot to foot, kids tugging on their parents’ sleeves. Clearly, it’s not just a dead zone for the photographer. It’s a dead zone for the entire wedding day.
Better to do table visits during or after dinner. It’s easier on the newlyweds who don’t have to stand in one spot and greet every guest one by one. And it’s easier on your guests, who don’t feel as though they’ve been compelled to greet you. And as the photo below suggests, making the rounds for table visits allows you to be more natural and talk to groups of people the way you normally would.