The local news this morning in New Mexico is weighted heavily with heart wrenching words about the fire in the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos. Bandelier National Monument has been evacuated, residents of White Rock and Los Alamos are voluntarily evacuating, with not only their important belongings but raw memories of the Cerro Grande fire that ripped through their community in May 2000. The fires also remind me of the helicopter ride I took with the Gila Wilderness Rappellers in May of 1994. That particular trip was ostensibly for a newspaper or magazine article I was proposing but, in the end, when three of the team members were killed while fighting a fire, the article became a tribute in the Santa Fe New Mexican. Such sobering thoughts this Monday morning leads me to place two thirst-quenching, gentle photographs in today's blog. Disparate but soothing, nonetheless.
Unless a photographer is shooting in a studio or has otherwise set the stage for a shot, much of what is done I would describe as a "grab" shot or shooting on the run. This does not at all mean that there is no planning nor intention in what you do. Photojournalists and serious photographers, by virtue of moving to and within a certain place at a certain time, declare their intention to create an image. Then the movement of the universe takes over and you work it or it works you - weather, personalities, gravity and physics, coordination - all come in to play during that moment when you release the shutter.
Some shots are more intentional than others. As an example, the photograph below was taken yesterday afternoon as my husband was driving and I was watching the Pacheco Canyon fire literally explode and grow before my eyes. I kept shooting, and of course, buildings, power lines, road signs and assorted detritus on the window all became part of the image - a powerful but sobering moment in time. A grab shot.
However, within the context of a wedding, there are also moments that are more classic but yet not something a photographer originally planned to do. It just presents itself in the most lovely way. This is one of those exceptional moments.
This is the sort of image that is both humbling and thrilling.
Whether you believe the climate is changing on this great planet of ours or not, everyone has been treated to a dose of unexpected weather this year. The northeastern United States and parts of the south have been in deluge mode for months. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and numerous rivers and tributaries in California, Colorado, and the west are overflowing their banks and some will be for another month. New Mexico has been left high and dry in this La Nina year. The only predictable element of the forecast seems to be wind and we have had plenty.
Weather makes outdoor weddings most interesting for everyone involved, including photographers. And as always, there is room for fun, even if the wind is howling!
The wedding was in Creede, Colorado, and I photographed the wedding party in a number of different locations - an old mine, near a caboose, and along the Rio Grande. Wagon Wheel Gap and the Palisades act as a massive wind tunnel. 40 mile per hour winds and higher gusts kicked up wind and fires, leaving the scene much like New Mexico this year with the Wallow Fire smoke keeping us company.
I didn't need to count the number of cans of hair spray used!
Late spring, summer, and autumn seem to be the most popular times for couples to be married in the colder or high altitude climates of America. This is particularly true if an outdoor wedding is being planned. Just as there are seemingly hundreds of decisions for the bride and groom to make, the wedding photographer has his or her part of pre-shoot planning to do. Will it be film or digital? Does the couple want traditional or creative and quirky photography, or a combination of both? What sorts of images would they like to have? I find myself keeping a folder for each wedding, making many lists, double checking, and trying to communicate with the wedding party up until the day of the wedding. Even to the extent of making sure that the vehicle I will be driving will get me to the wedding on time!
A photographer's mind can be in a real muddle but the more advanced planning one does, the better. When the wedding day arrives, you can really have fun with the shoot. One of the things that makes a wedding shoot special is the ability to capture details within the event.
Here is one of the grooms men's hands during the ceremony. A good place to the keep nerves in check.
To me, the color and drape of the fabric of one bridesmaid's gown was absolutely stunning, and warranted a shot in between group setups.
During the wedding I shot last Saturday, the groom and his band rocked. He had at least three guitars that I saw. This is a detail of one of them.
Throughout the wedding season, I will feature some of my wedding images and experiences on this site.