“I’m getting married! I wish you could fly out and shoot the wedding.”
This is exactly the kind of text I hope to get. Because my answer was an excited “Of course I can!”. One Skype conversation later and it was settled: I would be flying to Orange County, California to tell the love story of my buddy Ross and the love of his life, Vicki.
I met Ross in 2010 on the roof of his then downtown Los Angeles apartment after an epic mass pillow fight in Pershing Square. I had met his best friend Chase in New Orleans several years before when I was working in retail in the French Quarter and he was passing through on the crew of John Ratzenberger’s Made in America. A decade after taking vampire photos with Chase in a New Orleans Cemetery and seven years after looking down from a rooftop at the aftermath of a pillow fight with Ross (read: enough feathers to look like snow) and I was set to photograph them both in a beautiful SoCal wedding. “Surreal” doesn’t even begin to sum up what the day felt like.
Ross is a storm-chasing photographer who travels the country taking some seriously amazing photos. He told me that years before he had even met Vicki, he knew that when he got married he wanted me to photograph his wedding. That’s a pretty steep compliment coming from another photographer! But with that came with the challenge of finding a second shooter who we both wanted to hire. My perfectionist streak and commitment to never creating generic images made me a pretty tough critic. Ross has a discerning eye as well and both he and Vicki knew exactly what they wanted their wedding photos to look like. We searched through a number of recommendations and portfolios until stumbling upon Sabrina Hill. Her style was exactly what I was looking for. We were both over the moon that she was available to shoot with me!
Ross and Vicki wanted their wedding to include as much from their friends and family as possible. A childhood friend would officiate. Another old pal would make the cake. And, of course, I was handling the photography. They rented a house for all of us traveling to SoCal make the wedding happen. After making sure my gear survived the journey and driving several hours through Los Angeles rush hour traffic in a rented Prius, I rolled up to the Anaheim house and was greeted by Ross, Chase, a plate full of BBQ and a bubbling hot tub. It was pretty much perfection.
I aim to capture emotion when I tell love stories. There is never any shortage of opportunity during a wedding. But rarely have I had the chance to know people in the wedding for years and already have a connection to the day. I always want to do an amazing job but this time I was more than just a little nervous. This wedding meant something to me on a very personal level; it went beyond my usual level of care for the couples who invite me to tell their story. The emotion I captured that day felt like it had my own joy packed into it as well. Making the perfection of this image set all the more satisfying.
Everything about Ross and Vicki’s wedding was absolutely perfect. The venue was stunning, the weather gorgeous, the ceremony was heartfelt and touching (yes, I cried, a lot. Hell, I’m crying now!), and the reception was lively with the perfect level of ambient lighting dripping down from chandeliers. I spent half the day trying to figure out how I got so lucky and the other half trying (unsuccessfully) to wipe the massive smile off of my face. I was so insanely thrilled for my friend to have the perfect day with such a wonderful woman. I almost felt like I was as nervous as he was as he waited at the altar for her to walk down the aisle. I’m surprised I got any good shots I was crying so damn much. But even though I had been a little nervous, feeling such joy and connection made my job a lot easier.
A HUGE thank you to Sabrina for her stellar work. I feel fortunate to have found her and I really hope I get the chance to work with her again!