How far ahead someone selects the photographer for their wedding really varies. For some, it may be within just a few months of their wedding. For others, like Amanda and James, it could be as much as a year and a half out. That’s why, much to their surprise, when Amanda and James approached me in the winter of 2008-09 looking for a photographer for their May 2010 wedding, I was not surprised.
Then, out of the blue several months later, Amanda called me with some terrible news. Her father, Grant, had been diagnosed with cancer, with a rather gloomy prognosis of only a few months to live. There was discussion of moving the wedding up to December 2009, and would I be flexible and able to move the date. Of course, I responded. But, ultimately, her father convinced her to keep her original wedding date and have the wedding she had dreamed of. That got me to thinking about my role as the photographer and what I could do to help. I always include an engagement portrait session in all of my packages. I called Amanda and suggested that, instead of an engagement portrait session, why don’t we do a father-daughter portrait session? Amanda liked the idea, and she was able to get David’s Bridal to have her wedding dress available for the session; Grant was able to secure a tux. I set up lighting in her parent’s living room, and we spent about twenty minutes taking pictures. Then, Amanda and her father had the dance that would have been the father-bride dance at the wedding reception. I was grateful that I suggested the photo session, and even more so that Amanda and James had planned so far ahead.
Grant passed away five days later. Fortunately, I was able to process the images and post them online so he had a chance to see them with his daughter before he went beyond the veil.
Six months later, Amanda and James were able to have the wedding that they had planned for all those months. The ceremony took place in Club Room 2 of the Hotel Captain Cook, with a view to the west and north over the Cook Inlet. The reception was just down the hall in the Quarterdeck. They went with the best for cakes and entertainment: Superstar Pastry for the cake, and Martin James from APE for the music and emcee.
But what Amanda and James also had going for them was a desire to do lots of portrait photos, and wanting to have fun doing them. That really is what can make or break a photo session: the desire of the couple to take the time to relax, have fun, experiment a little and go with the flow. As a result, I had several firsts for wedding portraiture: my first couple-in-a-tree portrait and my first Infrared portrait. The IR photo can be a little challenging because the couple needs to remain perfectly still for thirty seconds. But, Amanda and James pulled it off nicely, and we had the foliage of Town Square Park to help.
And throughout the evening, well after I was gone, a framed portrait of Amanda and her father sat on the parents’ table, watching over the evening’s festivities. In the over twenty years I have been taking photos, that session with Grant and Amanda turned out to be the most rewarding thing I have ever done.