It always interests me how life weaves peoples’ lives together. I met Mary photographing her sister’s wedding. All of the sisters were crowded around a full length mirror prepping for the big day, when Mary came dancing down a hallway, making a grand entrance in the room, which filled with enthusiasm, dancing, laughter, and camaraderie. Her easy-going demeanor and infectious smile made her great to photograph. We bumped into each other again with her other sister’s wedding, which is where I was able to talk to her then-boyfriend Vince. As we chatted and got to know each other a bit, Vince would bashfully smile anytime he would begin talking about Mary. With a response like that, especially after years of dating, it was obvious that an engagement ring was in the future. Months later, I received an email from Mary announcing the engagement and asking if I would be their wedding photographer. I was both excited and honored.
Because Vince lives out of state, planning an engagement session around our three schedules was a bit difficult; however, we planned to meet up over the Fourth of July weekend in Northern Michigan. After some mean blueberry pancakes at the Harbor Cafe, we set out to photograph their engagement session in the quaint town of Elk Rapids, Michigan. We were having so much fun and sharing so many stories in between shots and outfit changes that the morning turned into the late afternoon. Judging by the fun we had with just the three of us, I can only imagine how memorable their wedding is going to be.
My favorite, unexpected aspect of being a wedding photographer is the relationships I form with my clients. I don’t even like calling them “clients” because it sounds so cold, so transactional. Honestly, throughout the whole wedding process, we become friends. And throughout the befriending process, you share stories. Annie was no different. Her story is beautiful, her heart is warm, and her personality naturally makes those she is around want to open up.
Today’s One Click is less about the technical side of a photo and what thought went into shooting it and more about the story. Keeping with tradition, Annie incorporated “something blue” into her wedding – a heart sown from her father’s favorite dress shirt. Annie’s father was an entrepreneur; a hard working business man who, from all the stories told and photos framed throughout the house, loved life and his family more than anything. If he was anything like his wife, he embraced life, people, and had more energy than people half his age. He was called to God’s home last year, leaving behind his wife, three children, and a small-town community that loved him.
The wedding dress was flawless. It hugged Annie and only enhanced her already stunning beauty. But it was the heart that made it sentimental and perfect. I always encourage the bride and groom to take a few minutes to themselves, away from everyone and everything, on their wedding day to just be present in the moment – to stop and reflect on the day, the journey that brought them here, and the journey that lies ahead. In this case, it was Annie and her mom I encouraged to share a moment. Together, they embraced and looked out over the St. Clair River at a house that raised four generations of her family. I can only imagine, in that moment of calm, that her dad was standing beside them both and smiling with heartfelt pride and joy.
A few years ago I walked into Flourish Event Design with a portfolio and my best smile. Melissa, a beautiful woman with an equally bright smile warmly approached me and offered me a seat. After an hour or so chat about my business and an exchange of business cards, I walked out of there happy about how things went, but even more so that I felt like I had made a friend. Months went by, engagement and weddings had been photographed, and then I received a call from Melissa asking if I wanted to help photograph a wedding through Wish Upon a Wedding, which provides free weddings to people facing illness. Absolutely. Soon after, Melissa was calling me again for wedding photography help. This time, it was her’s!
Being an industry professional, I felt beyond honored to have been chosen to document her wedding. Naturally, the day was beautiful as no detail was over looked. But what made the day memorable was the personal touches that Melissa and Bill spread throughout their wedding. Music plays a huge role in their relationship – after dating in high school, Melissa reconnected with Bill by asking for guitar lessons. It didn’t take long before the lessons started creating music of the heart.
Melissa had a nice surprise for Bill for his wedding gift. While he thought he was receiving a personalized handkerchief, she had a personalized Gibson Les Paul waiting in the wings. “I am almost as excited to give it to him as I am to marry him. He has always wanted one. I hope he loves it.” Bill was speechless.
After this, it was Melissa’s turn to get ready.
While I was taking details shots, Melissa’s dad walked in and quietly shut the doors behind him. Together, he and Melissa shared a moment. He was kind enough to allow me to stay as I gestured to him, asking if I should leave. The talk was honest and heartfelt, allowing me to create pictures that are priceless.
Melissa and Bill decided to have a First Look before walking down the aisle at the McGregor Memorial Conference Center at Wayne State University.
After the ceremony, we went to the Thomas Welsh Activity Center at Metro Beach, where Melissa and Bill serenaded their guests with with favorite song, “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz.
Special thanks to Melissa and Bill for allowing me to not only be part of this day, but many more days to come.
Entertainment: Mike Staff Productions
Accommodations: Royal Park Hotel
Hair & Makeup: Redhouse Salon
Coordinator: Flourish Event Design
Ask any photographer and they will tell you, we live as photographers – always watching, examining light, people, relationships, interactions…beauty in the obvious and not so obvious. Over the years, I found that I began to realize that when I put the camera down and focus more on the person, that the shot will naturally come. So when Tim and Amanda asked if I would be willing to spend the afternoon with them on their boat, cruising around Lake St. Clair for their engagement photos, I naturally said yes. Tim loves nothing more (except Amanda) than to spend his time adrift at sea. His excitement and anticipation to hit the open water was palpable. I silently watched; as Tim’s excitement grew, Amanda’s smile did too. They are partners – when Tim is happy, Amanda is happy too.
Our journey took us to the South Channel Light, a once-abandoned lighthouse that the Coast Guard was going to bulldoze into the sea until local group of bought it for a mere dollar with the promise that they would save it and restore it. I was lucky enough to be able to climb aboard the small island it is located on and even climb up to the top of the lighthouse. It was a beautiful view; but was was even more beautiful was to watch Tim and Amanda enjoy each other’s company and the simple things in life. On the way back, we stopped along Lakeshore Drive in Grosse Pointe, dropped anchor and shared some stories. It was here that I saw Amanda’s natural beauty as she relaxed watching the sun. By the time the sun set, we were almost back to the dock. Always the photographer, I wanted one last photo to cap the night. Once on the dock, I found a light. By the time I walked back to shoot, Tim was already embracing Amanda. My job was complete.