It began in the Whole Foods Cafe in Columbia, MD.
It was cold outside and rain was tickling the window panes on that dreary winter day. We were meeting to discuss and sign their contract for the photography at their upcoming event, later that October, 2018. Many days and even more emails later, we had everything planned and ready on the schedule. There was no ceremony - that happened on a beach this summer, a few weeks before. No, this wasn’t an elopement, and yes there was an extravagant reception planned for latter that evening. Erin and Will had taken all of the ‘typical’ ideas about a wedding and made them fit not only who they were as people but also what they had actually wanted to celebrate. Most important was capturing the two of them at first, and then celebrating together with friends and family. Fast forward to 410 7th St NW in Washington, DC.
The sun was shining.
I couldn’t wait to tour the city to capture these two in one of the most unique wedding photography shoots I’ve ever shot. I walked into the bridal suite at the Embassy Row Hotel where I saw Erin sitting in a chair in front of the large window that overlooked the downtown streets. She had the most elegant silk robe, adorned with flowers, wrapped around her. There was gabbing back and forth between the makeup artist, hair stylist and one of her best friends - all helping her get ready for the big event. Erin was being primped and primed as I set up for all of the typical detail shots with the shoes, the jewels, the dress… yes, of course she had a dress! This was a wedding celebration after all people. Everything was stunning as Erin’s best friend zipped her up and Erin took one final gaze in the mirror to check herself over. Will was pacing in the adjoining room, ready before anybody. I would have thought he was nervous except, they were already married! I think he was ready to go and get the show on the road. With Erin in the center of the suite, Will walked into the jack-and-jill hallway and in through the doorway. The light wrapped them both together.
I snapped and did not stop.
Will’s best friend arrived and helped me bring my ridiculously heavy road-cases back to the lobby and down the main steps as there was no elevator to make life easier to the main entrance… he looked strong and was a super nice guy so I hope he wasn’t too mad at me! We loaded up the car after a few quick hellos to family and friends and we were off! I bet you’re thinking to where if there was no ceremony but OBVIOUSLY it was to the very lengthy, pre-planned bride and groom portrait shoot. Yes, folks. If you’re not hung up on conforming to the traditional structure, I have to highly recommend this option. This part of the day allowed my clients roughly 4x the standard amount of bride and groom portraits! Talk about snap for your buck.
We began this dance at the Spanish Steps, just around the block from the hotel. There were beautiful overhanging trees offering plenty of shade and wonderful greenery. Erin had an amazing veil that I played with close up (at first) and then finished with shots of the bouquet and more traditional, zoomed out compositions of my two posed together. As we had exhausted the space for what it was worth, we loaded up and moved on down the D.C. city streets.
Our next stop had stops within stops.
We made our way to the National Arboretum where I had a plethora of backdrops to position and poses to build. We started with the National Capitol Columns and then moved into the gardens with some of the most unique looking trees and surrounding foliage. We pulled over at so many places - some pre-planned and others that struck me as we drove by. Being familiar with the need to shoot in any situation, for a multitude of exposures in one scene, the rampant sun spots certainly didn’t scare me. I made them bend and work at my favor - in a variety of ways. As a result, these shots processed in the most etherial and enchanting way possible. I couldn’t have been more proud. It also helps to have a great minded couple that’s willing to let you conjure and create!
We finished up our lengthy, custom session because it was time to grab some barbecue and I realized that I had forgotten my apron. We sped down the streets and deep into the city for our reservation at the Hill Country Barbecue Market. I immediately got so excited because to be honest, I forgot which restaurant it was and the idea of sounded amazing. We happily took the elevator down to the basement bar where the private party was being held. The big metal doors rolled open as our eyes were immediately greeted by various rustic elements of wood, copper and country florals. There was a huge bar spanning the depth of the room on the far left wall as old fashion tables and chairs were organized in rows across the floor. The bar had a spectacular set of horns from a steer mounted to the face of the draft. We throned Erin’s amazing bouquet inside a copper tin between each of the massive points. I scrambled to unload the lighting gear while the planners finished the final arrangements and decor. I greeted all of my participants for the quick family portraits before each remaining guest arrived. I fired off several shots as these portraits are the most common to miff. Not just for blinking eyes but also forgetting different combinations entirely. I can photoshop eyes, but missing somebody is the worst so I did my very best to make sure we crossed off the entire list!
Cocktail hour was set and drinks were poured, served, consumed and then refilled. The atmosphere in the room was not only joyous and celebratory but also incredibly friendly. Erin, Will and company were all such great people not only to work with but also to have fun with. There were several moments of the night that made me forget that I was even working at all. I snapped and snapped and then it was finally time to crack ribs… OBVIOUSLY barbecue ribs, come on. Don't forget the brisket. And mashed potatoes, and cornbread - my secret craving. But don’t tell anyone as most people think I hate it, haha. Toasts rang out with some of the sweetest stories and words of wisdom - more drinks were poured, had and then re-filled.
The cake table was set up on the wall opposite to the bar and on top of a stage meant for the local traveling band or performing artist. This side of the room was still beautifully rustic but also had a small flair of punk rock leaking through. Wether intentional or not, I thought it was great and very edgy-D.C.. The vibe in the room was nothing but family fun and friendly enjoyment celebrating two people that were definitely made for each other. Upon its cutting, cake was being passed around the room and the icing smelled sweet in the air. I got back on my list again as we had a few specific groups that were a must-have to capture. I waltzed the room and pardoned each person necessary. We piled group shots together as the final hours wound down.
The loud speaker kicked on and the music took a subtle dive in decibel . The wedding coordinator announced that the final call was ringing out and the party was to continue at Mission Dupont until who honestly knew when... I was let go as of this point but and course invited to join in. As much as I would have loved to, I had been laboring for hours with several pounds of photography equipment at my side so it wasn’t exactly feasible. Although, as always, I deeply appreciated the gesture. I was helped again on my way up the elevator and then out to the streets to hail my Uber. I was asked one more time by Will’s friend to come out and even given his cell incase I had changed my mind. But I hadn’t changed my mind and I did feel bad about it. This job has just turned me into an ‘old person.’ For Erin and Will's photography's sake, I couldn’t wait to pass out and then wake up to editing all of these beautiful shots the next day.
It honestly felt great being back in D.C. as much of my business this years happened mainly out of Baltimore. I had not been back in the district since May. Lights flashed by as I wheeled my gear down the streets and up to my cab. We passed through circle after never ending traffic circle, and at that point, all I could think of was going ‘round and ‘round. 2018 both started and ended here for me. It’s also worth mentioning that I was introduced to Erin and Will through a far back, childhood friend. His name is Steven LaGow and Steven, I certainly owe it to you when it’s finally your time. For those wondering, yes, I did see Steven at the wedding and no, not much has really changed. Erin and Will came into my life with just the humblest of expectations; therefore, it was my hope to give them even more.
So I looked on ahead as the traffic light turned green.