So…There’s A Boat Here…

If you’re going to hire me, one of the things you need to know is that I will push you out of your comfort zone and make you really work to get that PERFECT shot.

Prime. Example…..Jenna & Nathan.

It was just another perfect wedding day. Outdoors, gorgeous dress, perfect flowers, awesome family and friends, superrrr cute couple. The day went like it always does, nothing new or unexpected. We made it all the way through the portraits and onto the reception and that’s when I saw it….a boat. The wheels in my mind were working overdrive. Must. Get them. In. THE BOAT…..but will they?

Be subtle….”So uh….is uh….does that boat belong to someone here.” Why yes. Yes it did. “So uh….ummmmm…how would you feel about getting in it???”…Hesitation. Anticipation.  Some debate between the bride and groom. And then a semi-solid, totally unsure of herself, “Suuuuure…?” BOOM. GOOD ENOUGH.

And y’all let me tell you, these pictures are not only RIDICULOUSLY MAGICAL, but they also ended up being the FAVORITE photos from the day….People, it’s worth it to take risks.

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Watching Love Grow

One of the greatest parts of my job, if not THE greatest, is being able to be a part of people’s stories and watching them grow. I met this particular couple while they were guests at a wedding that I was shooting. Turns out we had A LOT of personal connections already in place. We all had run in the same circles, just never right next to each other. Funny how that sometimes works out, yea?

Since reconnecting with these two, I have been blessed to witness them grow from a family of 3 (two parents and a fur baby) to a family of 5! That’s right. TWINS. Talk about a couple of over achievers right?!

So here are some of the first pictures I took of them about 2 years ago…

 

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SO cute and perfect it hurts right?! And then by the end of last year…

 

BABIIIIEEESSSSSS……SO. PRECIOUS…*ugly cry*….This was definitely a first for me. I’ve worked with babies…I had a baby…but TWINS. T’was a challenge AND  treat. I mean just look at these precious little book eeeeends…*More ugly crying*

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And if you are not already in love (well, you probably have no heart…but….) just check these little cuties out NOW.

 

It is a bittersweet joy to watch time fly…I think this is the part no one thinks about with the saying “watching love grow”. Most often people think of when two people meet. That first spark of interest, the first time they hold hands, the first time they kiss, dating, engagement, marriage…and then….pppptthhhtttt….(That’s the closest I can get to spelling out a tongue fart sound)….But no!!! The love CONTINUES to grow. The marriage is tested and the love becomes stronger, and eventually, Lord willing…the heart makes room for more love to grow in it. And it grows and it grows as the beautiful and ever changing story of these little lives continues to unfold.

What a remarkable thing to be a part of ❤

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Two Worlds. One Love.

She was from Croatia. He was from Jordan. Love brought them together.

Stories like this one are what I THRIVE on. How crazy is it that two people from TOTALLY different worlds can find each other and have one of THE. MOST. beautiful loves I have ever seen?!?! These two are the perfect example of the power of love and the beauty of life.

Being a part of a wedding, being a witness to love on a regular basis is such an honor in itself… I have yet to get tired of it. But let me tell you guys something…After witnessing these two cultures coming together in celebration of love….y’all….We do weddings SO wrong here in America!!!

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This wedding…was not about the wedding. (Whatever do you mean Victoria?) This wedding…was a CELEBRATION of LOVE. It was not just about making sure we stick to the cookie cuter wedding prototype – We get married. We take Pictures. We are announced. We have our first dance. We toast. We Eat. Garter, Bouquet…blah blah blah…

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Our Bride & Groom, Jelena and Ahmed, decided on doing a tradition western wedding ceremony. Much like what we North Americans are used to seeing today. It was perfect…if you can’t tell by the photos…let me say it again…it was PERFECT…Perfect day, beautiful Bride, handsome Groom, all the friends and family. AWESOME…but THEN…IT. WAS. A. PARTTTTYYYYY!!!

First of all: Instead of the normal rush and pressure to get to the reception, Ahmed and Jelena took the time to ENJOY each other. Their photos were not. about. the photos…they were about the two of them savoring the moment. Basking in the awe of just getting married. Standing in Pure. BLISS….that’s what made these photos so amazing!!! They are real, raw authentic.

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Secondly: Their friends and family were all on board with these vibes. Guys…our culture needs to get on this level. Normally, what do we all do as guests when it’s time for the reception??? WE WANT THE FOOD. WE WANT TO BE ENTERTAINED…”Their first dance is longer than 2 minutes…UGH it’s weird and awkward and taking so loooonnnggggg…should have grabbed more cheese during cocktail hour…”..Throw the bouquet, throw the garter, give me my cake….Not this family!

Our Bride and Groom followed a traditional wedding entrance called a “Zaffe”…for those of us that have no clue what that is, the short explanation is that it is the Bride and Groom DANCING into the reception to a live, tribal-esk-drum-Arabic boy band for 45 MINUTES…AND THEN SOME. And everyone is in on it! The Bride and Groom take the lead and the rest of the family and friends join in on it. There was dancing, there was love, there was laughter…it was an AMAZING thing to be a part of! No one was sitting around taping their wrists acting like “tick-tock-tick-tock when is dinner going to be served?”…well…minus the wait staff haha! The poor hotel wedding coordinators had no clue how to handle it. “Time to serve the food? Op..op no..no they are going to do another song…Now? Do we serve it…now? Ya know what…just put it out it’s fine…they will get to it…” haha!….not one guest seemed to pay any mind to any sort of traditional XYZ version of a wedding that we are so used to here in North America. They simply enjoyed the REAL reason for being there, celebrating the union of two people whom they dearly loved.

This wedding was nothing short of what the real definition of a wedding should be. North America…take notes!

Starting with Honesty.

So I am going to start this blog off with me baring my soul to you all…the story behind these photos is one that gives me anxiety and makes me feel a weight on my chest…As a photographer, specifically a WEDDING photographer, your worst nightmare is screwing up something on someone’s wedding day…and that my dear friends….is the beginning to the story behind these photographs. It is cringe worthy, it is honest, it is a lesson learned.

I would like to start this story off by first asking my audience to take a good look at this couple featured in the header and below. Look at them. Look how happy they are. Look how damn beautiful and in love they are! Kelsey and Blaire are an INCREDIBLE couple and I am so so blessed to have been able to capture their love story…These photos were taken about 4 months after their wedding day. Weird right? Well let me tell you why.Hess-Hall-46

Their wedding day was unlike any other-gorgeous, full of love, full of beauty, full of joy..and of course, a little hectic! What’s a wedding day without a little chaos? Kelsey and Blaire handled it with grace and truly understood the reason they were there. To get married!!!! I however, did something I NEVER do at a wedding. I stressed out.

The stress began when the 10 minute ceremony turned into a 45 minute ceremony. The preacher was ON-FIRE y’all. Haha! He was PREACHIN’ the truth and it was amazing…but it was making me nervous!!! I thought to myself, “C’mon man I love Jesus too but we’re losing daylight!”(such a selfish photographer, right? Other  photogs, do ya feel my pain!?)…I recalled saying to the Bride before the ceremony, “Don’t stress, we can get pictures after the ceremony if everyone isn’t ready just yet.”…..I will literally never utter those words to any Bride ever again! haha! Take note people: Assume the worst. Get all the shots then and there. Always assume there is no time later! You just never know what might happen.

By the time the ceremony was over we had 30 minutes to shoot EVERYTHING. Bridal party, family, Bride & Groom portraits. AND WE WERE LOOSING DAYLIGHT!!!…Oh and did I also mention that the venue was hosting another event at the same time?!?!

Our light was gone. The venue had about 500 extra people crawling around the only space we had to shoot. We had to shove the family in a dark corner in the lobby because there was no room anywhere else. And the venue’s coordinator was breathing down my neck reminding me “15mins…..10mins….5mins…we really need to get them into the reception.”

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This is where I messed up. This is where I should have said, “STOP.” I should have looked that wedding coordinator in the eye and told her to shove it!!!…not really…I can’t be mean like that…But if we had just taken 10 more minutes, I could have asked the Bride & Groom to take the time to get the family photos in the area where the ceremony took place, I could have run and gotten a bigger light. 10 minutes was all I needed. But I let the pressure of the time, the huge group of hungry family members staring me down, the extra 500 people walking around the venue, the wedding coordinator, and the pressure of not wanting to be a burden stop me from saying…”Stop.”

Last thing I want to say to my fellow photogs reading this…did you hear what I just said? “The pressure of not wanting to be a burden…”. Fellow photogs. This is our JOB. There is a fine balance between being obnoxious-acting like you run the show and it’s all about the photos, and wanting to make sure the day is all about the wedding. The truth is, the wedding day is not about the photos at ALL. It is all about the marriage…BUT…our JOB is to make sure we capture those moments…Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you need an extra 10 minutes don’t be afraid to pul your couple aside and say “hey, this isn’t working.” Give them another option. THEY run the show…and if they say no then work with what you have…But it’s worth it to ask.

And now we are here, at this blog post. I was devastated when I received an email from the Bride’s mother telling me how dissatisfied she was with the photos. Four years of doing this professionally…over 70 weddings and not ONE complaint. Thankfully, this family believes in grace. I offered them a free family session to make up for it as best as I could and they were gracious enough to take me up on it. I know it can never make up for the few dark and grainy family photos I gave them on their wedding day…but just LOOK at these. When I see these photos I see grace, I see love, I see joy.

So now you know…these are not just sun-shine filled, happy family portraits. These photos represent a weight on my heart, a mistake made and grace given.

That’s the true story.

Here are a few more of my favs from their session. To see the full gallery click here.