There's a lot I missed this weekend. Memphis has the unfortunate tendency to cram all of the cool things one could possibly want to do in a year's time into the one month fairly guaranteed of good weather. The River Arts Fest. Charles Baxter's reading at the Galloway Mansion. The costumed tour at Elmwood. Lots of Halloweenish fun.
But being away was worth it. It was a seven hour haul to Indiana, the weather was bone-chillin damp and the accomodations shockingly expensive, but a goal long in the making finally came true Saturday - I got to photograph my first wedding. When we were met at the gate by a grizzled old coot in beard asking about our business, I managed to squeak "i'm the photographer." Inside it was I'M THE PHOTOGRAPHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The squeakiness wasn't just the usual insecurity. One of my flashes had decided to stop working the night before and I was missing a crucial piece of my monopod, but thanks to the patience of my sweet husband, flashes were fixed, wine was drunk, monopods readied. But my nerves were still shot, which in hindsight was really sad as these were the nicest people/distant relatives-by marriage in the world.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Just before sun down we arrived in Paoli and spent an hour at the wedding site, watching all the preparations and scouting for locations. And can I just say? Who knew southern Indiana was so freakin gorgeous? The couple chose to marry on the property of a lovely if not eccentric B&B owner (feeding Harlow under a stuffed barracuda next to a deerhead adjacent to a naked mannequin wearing a tophat will be ranking as my #1 most interesting place to nurse) Lots of folk were milling around, decorating, singing, preparing the wedding day feast. I half expected a barn-raising to commence with all the hollering and burlap and possums in abundance. Oh right, the possums. Minutes after we arrived a concerned gentleman implored us to move our car as the B&B owner would be shortly be "releasing the possums." Strangely he did not seem to be concerned about our safety or that of my car as I pictured a river of possums rushing, Pamplona-style, toward the driveway. No, it was just one measly rehabilitated possum being returned to the wild as its caretaker and several guests discussed the misunderstood merits of the beady-eyed, evil, its-a-possum-people possum. Having never met the bride and groom, I was surprised to find them in costume the day before but their enthusiasm was contagious. They excitedly pointed out their programs that showcased a charcoal sketch of the bride and groom with their basset hound. Dogs howled and cats ran underfoot. Chickens dashed about the yard, chased by little girls in rope curls and galoshes. I couldn't wait to see what the actual wedding day would bring.
We checked into the French Lick Resort, a sprawling hotel built in 1901. Back in the day, a mineral spring was uncovered in the region. It was bottled and marketed as cure-all "Pluto Water," and droves of the rich and infirm flocked to the area, necessitating the construction of an elegant hotel that now boasts a bowling alley, an ice cream parlor and a recent addition of a casino in the shape of riverboat. You know, because it wasn't classy enough.
The day of the wedding was cold, overcast and damp - forboding for a bride, awesome for a lazy photographer who doesn't want to deal with pesky shadows on people's faces. We all bundled up - I ultimately ran around in a sweatshirt underneath a ski jacket and was still chilly, and I wasn't wearing muslin and or a costume bought off ebay. Baby girl was wrapped up in every blanket we brought, but she was so taken with the trees and the cats and dogs that she didn't seem to notice. Teh day quickly flew by; drinks appeared before the ceremony started, so the guests and bride and groom mingled and joked and drank while I tried not to be too conspicuous with my paparrazzi-worthy lens. My dad let me borrow his 70-200mm zoom, an amazing lens that allows in a lot of light and features an image stabilizer to counteract camera shake. I got so comfortable with the lens - as comfy as a 10 lb. body an d lens can be - that I shot a ton of images on it, ignoring some of my wider lenses as the colors popping up in the finder were just gorgeous. The only problem was that my vision had seriously started to blur around the time the ceremony started - I had already been shooting nonstop for 4 hours at this point - that I failed to notice that the IMAGES were also blurry. Somehow I had managed to hit the one button you don't want to touch - the image stabilizer. Then there was the breakdown in communication when I chased after the bride and groom to their carriage while the wedding party made their procession! Realizing my mistake I sprinted back to the ceremony and managed to catch the flower girls just as they were finishing their walk. Bummer. Between the shaky images and the missed moments I was on the verge of having a meltdown, but Caleb handed me some homemade stew and brew and things seemed better. I managed to shoot enough enough non-shaky proofs that I think the bride and groom will be pleased. I hope.