She stood there a moment, looking deeply into the eyes of her future, and couldn’t help but smile at how amazing her future looked through his eyes.
This was the moment the photog needed to capture, that precise moment where the camera can’t fail, this has to be caught perfectly. It can’t be recreated at all. Then, Murphy’s Law kicks in full effect. The camera freezes up and appears to fail.
Wait, what? Hold on! Rewind
Let’s start a few paces back and set up the moment. As a photog, building a story in pictures is the whole fun of the package. Writing a story, of course, has to be done differently. So hang on, here we go
A dear friend of mine had asked that I help out with some engagement photos. A quick romantic shoot that would capture the essence of their romance. I have to admit, I didn’t know that much about their romance, being that they’re very private. I definitely respect that. Too many stories about relationships going south because everyone had an opinion to give. It was going to be a fun time and a challenging time. I love to set up my photos to reflect the people I photograph, even though I have my own style of how I want to show who they are.
What I did know was that my friend trusted me and my style. We had worked together many times in my learning days of photography. Now that I think about it, I’m not done learning at all. She was instrumental in the process in that she had volunteered a lot of her time so I could practice. This practice gave me the confidence to go do paid gigs at will. Now, a chance to say thank you came up. I would happily do this photo shoot for them and give them a package that they could be proud of.
My goal was to capture a few moments that looked very private, intimate, yet unassuming. A very tall order. Something I hadn’t done before. I would have to follow them around and wait for the ideal moment. This method historically has proved boring for both the client and me. Now, with a guy who I knew, but not well, and a dear friend… boring was the last thing I could afford to be.
As nervous as I was anticipating to be, I couldn’t show it, and I couldn’t have them respond to it. So, I started watching them anytime we hung out to start seeing patterns that would come in handy during the photo session. I knew I wouldn’t have much time, guys don’t like to be photographed for long typically. I also know she has plenty of patience to let me get the perfect shot. I also discovered that they spoke often but so quietly and privately, most people didn’t notice. This reconnaissance info would help me a ton.
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The day of the shoot had arrived. The weather didn’t look ideal to the untrained eye, but the wonderful cloud cover made the light not harsh. This would be awesome as the couple were dressed in contrasting colors and their skin tone was quite different. Had the sun been blazing near it’s zenith, as it would have been any other day, the ability to have them both show well in the photo was going to be a little outside the reaches of the photog’s editing capabilities.
With a few pleasantries, the walk to the ideal spot in the park took place. During the setup, questions were answered, small talk made, and the photog was reminded of the importance of keeping the photo shoot short. This didn’t surprise the photog at all, after all, most non-models and non-fashion interested fellas just want to get the photos over with quickly, to the chagrin of most women who wanted a perfect engagement set of photos.
After explaining the photos of the day, work soon began in earnest. A few poses the way the bride to be wanted, a few classic poses that appealed to the groom, a few creative poses to loosen the couple up and get them to interact. After all, the idea was to capture a moment that represented their love. They wanted a series of pictures that would tell the story.
At one point, a change in scenes was needed. Regrouping the gear and reseting up, the inevitable questions came up. Can we see the photos so far and are we done yet. To the first, they couple was pretty happy. Considering these were raw unedited copies, the comfort they had in the photos proved encouraging. The experimental poses was not a hit, nor were they intended to be. It did get then laughing and joking about, the perfect recipe for the ideal moment to come to light.
Now, applying all the skills he had, the photog started to walk the couple through the various poses that should create that spark of a moment. They followed the lead and did all they were told, however, it was not coming together perfectly. The chemistry started to fade some. The words didn’t tell the story, but the discrete looks at the watch suggested the gentleman was growing bored. The lady caught on nicely and tried to walk her love through the process, as she’d done plenty of modeling with and without the photog.
That was it. The back and forth chatter between poses. That was the moments needed. So, the photog grew very quiet and moved back to let the conversation grow. As it grew in intensity, it shifted from the shoot to some random topic. That’s when their chemistry flew into high gear. Whatever they were talking about must have been juicy, as the smiles started to radiate, the postures started to move towards more private intimacy.
The perfect moment arrived. They were talking together and he leaned in for a kiss. She slid comfortably into his arms and smiled up at him. This was it. The sun just peaked out from the clouds creating the perfect halo for them. And then, just when they were about to kiss, the camera hesitated, paused, and stalled
Without notice, without warning, the camera died.
The shot was lost.
The moment gone.
Somehow they sensed something was not right. They looked at their photog inquisitively. It was over. The camera had called it quits.
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It is not unusual for Murphy’s Law to apply to photography. When one least expect a failure, that’s usually when it happens. In this particular case, it was the simple fact the battery was low and eventually ran out. Knowing in advance that my friend loves to view her pictures during the shoot, a practice I don’t often allow for battery purposes, I came prepared with additional batteries. I also had other components with me in case I had any number of failures. This is one of the reasons why a photographer’s bag can be a bit heavy and large at times. Not because failures are common practices or standard in the field, but it just makes sense to be prepared.
The other valuable thing to bring to a shoot is humor. I knew that if this sort of thing happened, not having some humor would easily tip things into a less favorable territory for the couple. They need to know they can trust you to deliver the services you agreed to deliver. I was able to apply some humor to this situation and assure them that all was well. I also added, for good measure, that their cooperation had made it such that I was moving along faster in my scheduled shoot than planned. This made the gentleman smile greatly and relax. I also noticed that my friend smiled at that too, which confirmed to me that no matter how agile a lady is in her heels, uneven surfaces of a park will get the better of her at some point.
As the clouds parted even more, recreating that moment was no longer an option. That shot was lost. I had to regroup, relocate, and reset. That way, I could take advantage of the areas of the park I was in and provide the best closing shots I could. Once the batteries were changed, it was back to business, which means back to the story.
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With the situation back under control, it was time to make some magic happen. The lost opportunity had to get on film somehow. Posing people is not the easiest skill to hone and develop. The photog, knowing this weakness, had to compensate with humor to recreate the wheel. It was time to weave a story that would get the mood right.
Instinct motivated the photog to talk about their coming wedding. If that didn’t get a romantic vibe going, the perfect shot would be lost for the day. As the conversation slowly meandered towards their honeymoon, the poses became easier to strike, the moments more genuine and inspired. The stories and jokes kept the time ticking very nicely and allowed the sun to now start to set in a perfect angle.
Taking a staged break to rest the arms, the photog hoped that the couple would use that opportunity to talk more about whatever romantic ideas they had. One can only assume that it had something to do with the honeymoon trip because the photog noticed the smile of hunger slip across the groom’s face. This felt right. Felt like the last shot that was missed. The bride giggled and flirted with her man, and she soon forgot that she was on set.
They turned into their own little world where only they understood what was being said. A few laughs and flicks of hair, the scene was now perfectly set. The photog trained his camera and waited. Soon, the shot would show up and the finger was already on the trigger.
The man pulled his lady close to himself in a kind protective gesture while looking deeply into her eyes. The photog imagined him telling his lady in a raspy-ish voice how much he wanted the shoot to end so they can retreat and speak about their plans. Her eyes lit up even more and her head nodded. The cheeks were getting red. As he noticed and admired her blush, he turned to allow his ample broad shoulders to block the view of the photog as he leaned in for a kiss.
His distraction, caused by her smile, was the gain of the photog who was already maneuvering into a more ideal space to grab the shot. It was more perfect than the last. The sun was shining such that her eyes had a twinkle in them and her pearly smile couldn’t be more white than it was. The shadows all fell away from the position of the photog, this was it.
Wait for it…wait…wait…click!
Perfection. Just as her eyes glittered with a dancing glimmer of celestial radiance, the sun reflected off her eyes and into his as the shutter clicked the shot. The tender loving embrace as perfect as you could capture it. She was looking intently into her future and felt safe and secure. He looked into her soul and found peace and tranquility. In that moment, time stood still, life stopped, and heaven opened up and blessed the union of their souls and solidified them in an eternal bond.
By the time they realized they were being photographed, many frames had been captured and the photog had many options to choose from for the final product.
The gentle landing of a soft kiss that had caused her to succumb to his hold, caught.
The hands that had wrapped around the nape of his neck gently urging him to plunder her heart with the seed of his love, caught.
That moment of pause when the fragments of reality called them back from their astrological venture of love, caught.
That moment when they both blushed fiercely at being uncovered in deep intimacy, caught.
Moments like this feel like eternity and aren’t easily created. However, when crafted and encourage, the magic touches all who watch. The bystanders who had stopped to sample this slice of heaven were all clapping, for they knew this was the perfect shot caught nicely on film.
There was not much more to do or say. This was the best it was going to be. This was it. The moment there was a twinkle in her eye.
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Chapter 5 – Epilogue
Sitting a year and change after the fact editing more photos, I couldn’t help but smile. I was in a position to do another wonderful job editing photos I took for my friend. I’ve posted the story before here When Quitting Seems Very Appealing.
I have witnessed many wonderful moments in my friend’s life and caught them on film for her and her family. She’s given me so much of her time and allowed me to blossom as an artist. I am pleased to be giving back to her and making her smile with my photographic art. Now, I have the luxury of using my growing writing skills to share the stories and add yet another smile to her.
Her family has now grown. I can’t wait for the day I’m around to do the first birthday photos. While on the note of firsts, I am glad to have made a solid friend in her husband too. He’s got quite a set of skills in creating his own content. I have a standing invite to participate in his work and art. I also have been very heavily encouraged by him to move more aggressively in the development of my skills and talents. While I doubt he will gladly volunteer time in front of the camera, I am very appreciative of the support he has given me.
I am not sure what the future holds, but these magical moments are precious. I have learned to savor them, save them in memory, and enjoy them in real time. No point in rushing through to grab the next moment. Stay in time and live it out as it unfolds. You just never know when that next twinkle will catch your eye and move you.
This story was dedicated to my friends who have pushed me forward and helped me grow. The mixed voicing was done as response to some of their feedback. I look forward to more such moments as I write them out to remember them for a long time to come.