Travel, It’s one of the greatest parts of my job, especially when I get to take my family with me.
Last June we had taken our family to Disneyland to celebrate my son Parker’s 9th birthday. Upon retrurning home we were greeted with bedtime tears for days from the oldest two–they wanted to go back to Disneyland (or, Loddydoon as our two year old, Poet, calls it.)
Our faith tells us that nothing is impossible, so I used this as an opportunity to show our kids that nothing is too big (or too small) for our God. Each night we prayed that God would open up an opportunity for me to get some work in Southern California so that we could potentially take the kids back to Disneyland. One of those nights, Dan was surfing the web and came across our website. Having seen some of our travel and wedding work Dan was set on using us for his wedding. I’ve often heard there’s no higher compliment someone can pay a photographer than to book them. It’s true.
Parker was sick with the flu when we decided to tell him we were going back to Disneyland. Tears welled up in his eyes. It was sincerely one of the most beautiful moments I’ve had as a Father. That moment served two purposes; It helped me better understand how our Father might feel when He delivers beautiful surprises in our lives and it helped Parker understand that nothing is too big (or small) for our God.
Dan and Stef. Wow.
From the moment we met via Skype, I could see that Dan was one of the most genuine people I had encountered, truly thoughtful and aware of others. Stef was serving out of the country at the time, however, through Dan’s words it was easy to see his lover for her. Throughout the conversation Dan revealed that our work around the world touched him so much, they just wanted to bless our family. Bless us they did, in so many ways. (That last part sounds cool if you use a Yoda voice.)
Dan is a romantic dude. His proposal? He hired an airplane (and pilot) to fly Stef over an island with the words, “will you marry me?” written on the beach. Dan is a bar raiser and everyone at the wedding knew it–especially Stef.
I first met Stef at her pre-wedding bridal shoot at the Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego. Tiffany (our dear friend and second shooter) and I were extremely touched by how down to earth, caring and thoughtful she was. I left the shoot energized about life, my job and my craft. (Tiffany got to press the elevator buttons, so she was pretty stoked too.)
Here are some images from Stef’s pre-wedding bridal shoot. (PWBS’s are a great way to form a shooting relationship with a bride, as well as give them a chance to do a test run with hair and make-up in “the” dress. To date, we’ve had zero dress causalities and many thankful brides.)
Dan and Stef decided to keep their ceremony and reception in one location, the Grand Del Mar. Exceptional location, exceptional staff. I do think the GDM needs to mix up their uniforms a bit–they’re apparently too rad. Tiff and I went to retrieve our vehicle from the valet and one of the hotel guests mistook me for a valet and asked for their car. I was tempted to give him our rented mini-van in exchange for what he was driving, alas, he too had a rented min-van. As we drove off in the swagger wagon, I again felt renewed in my life, my job and craft. Extremely thankful for clients and friends like Dan and Stef. I was also very proud of Tiffany. She’s learned so much over the past four years and is somehow able to read my mind-scary, but helpful. Truly blessed by her skill and can’t wait for the next four years.
A few random facts about this wedding:
- Several years ago I photographed Eric and lindsay Parnell’s wedding. Eric does fab video work so I recommended him to Dan and Stef for the wedding day. Eric is a true professional, blessed to work with him.
- I fell in a bush
- My favorite camera / lens combo for the day was the Nikon D3s and 50mm 1.4. Epic combo for low light and creaminess.
- I traveled with a few speedlights and a Photoflex Medium Octobox. I used the Pocket Wizard TT1/TT5 combo to bring down the ambient sun light (via high speed sync) to provide better light on Dan and Stef. If you don’t know what any of that just meant, it’s okay.
- 18 people in the wedding party. 18. The kindest, most respectful wedding party ever.
- A group of funny Grannies kindly moved from the library so we could get a shot of the guys, sans cigars.
- For the 4th time in the history of photographing weddings, I was mistaken as either a waiter or a valet driver (after I took my lens belt off.)
We hope to get back down to Southern California soon for more photography work. Until then, a few of our favorite moments from Dan and Stef’s Del Mar / San Diego wedding:
Rarely, perhaps never, have I posted images of my own sons. Unfortunately, that’s because rarely do I set out to document my family. I often think about it, I know I need to do it, but something happens between intent and action.
Last week I spent some time alone with Poet, our two year old. The meaning of Poet’s name is “one who is gifted in the perception and expression of the beautiful.”
For Poet, in this season of life, life itself is all about fun. The more (quality) time I spend with Poet during this time reminds me that a) I need more quality time with all of my kids and b) I need to live my life more like Poet does–minus the whole diaper thing.
Knowing I had a precious opportunity to be a part of Poet’s day (and give my better three quarters a much deserved break) I decided to document every step of our time together. Our excursion started with a trip to Ida’s cupcakes for some gluten free/vegan (amazing) cupcakes, then we ended up at Columbia Park (pirate ship park) for some sliding. Chocolate smiles were had.
As a photographic artist, I was reminded (again) the importance of creating for myself, for fun–I call it free shooting. Free shooting helps me to see things in a different way, to constantly be “looking” rather than fiddling. Often this leads to images that involve movement, blurred lines, or moments that aren’t perfectly framed. Let’s be honest, photographing any two year old is going to involve blur. Free shooting allows me to be less concerned with rules, and more concerned with life.
I took only one camera and one lens–My trusty D700 and a Lensbaby Composer Pro with a Sweet 35. Time and time again, no other combination has helped me to “see in a new way.” Life ethereal. Life in motion. Poetry in motion, or in this case, Poet in motion.
Rest assured, I’m not finished documenting my family… For now, a few of my favorite moments with Mr. Popo: