A little over a month ago I had the opportunity to get together with one of my best friends and his best friend to share an afternoon commemorating (if belatedly and unofficially) the fact that he had asked her to marry him — and she had said yes. The first time I met Mary, incidentally, was mere hours after Dave had proposed. “Hi, I’m Mary…” she beamed, and as I reached to shake her hand, she showed me the other one, one finger brightly ringed, adding, “…Dave’s fiancée.”
Time passed, and as the wedding plans fell together Dave asked if I wouldn’t mind breaking my de facto retirement and taking some pre-wedding pictures of the two of them. Weather threatened to upset us, as did my being under the weather, but our last chance finally came and wouldn’t you know, it was a pretty beautiful afternoon. Windy as all get-out, and cloudy at times (which played havoc with my rusty ISO-adjusting skills), but beautiful nonetheless. And so we set out down the abandoned train tracks behind the Lates home, my hands occupied with my camera bag, their hands occupied with each others’.
We decided early on to avoid, as much as possible, being terribly cliché. There were some things which just wouldn’t work with these two, you know?
I made it clear up front: I don’t really know what I’m doing. If I try to manufacture anything it’ll look forced. Just act like I’m not here. Easier said than done, of course. But so it went, and I’d like to think they’ll be happy with at least a few of ’em. We tried a variety of locations, and the common theme seemed to be trees:
…trees standing over lakes…
…trees on their sides…
…trees turned to railroad ties.
There was a little obligatory ring-gazing…
…but only a little.
Over the course of the “shoot,” if you can call it that, we put together a couple brief narratives through sequential shots.
The first was the closest I came to trying to make something metaphorical of our environment. Stumbling through life, most of us wish we had a helping hand, a little stability to help us when balancing everything becomes tricky. Support:
Of course, like I said, we were out on abandoned train tracks. Somewhere along the tracks an impotent sign ordered us away, leaving its jurisdiction and enforceability to the imagination. And to think, had we listened, none of these pictures would exist. Dave & Mary showed the sign what they thought of being told No Trespassing:
At some point I jokingly reminded them to act naturally. “I mean, honestly, if I weren’t here, would you really spend half the time just silently staring lovingly into one another’s eyes?”
And that was the truth of it. Uninterrupted by my suggestions and occasional directions, they spent a lot of time just looking really happy to be together. And it was beautiful. Humbling. I know I’m sort of expected to say it was an honor to be invited to be part of this, to be asked to, but I say that — that it was an honor — not out of a sense of obligation but rather unbridled honesty. Dave, Mary: thank you. I’m truly honored to have been asked along to share in your afternoon.