One evening, years ago, I built up enough courage to discuss a life-crisis, one I’d not totally digested yet. Talking to others about my struggles doesn’t come easily for me. After spilling my guts, he offered no advice but instead surprised me by giving me a painting right off his living room wall. Delightfully unexpected gestures like that were one of his fortes. The painting was of a modest city block in the rain. It could have been a corner from any N.American city and I strongly felt like I’d seen it before, that I’d actually stood in exactly that spot and witnessed it a million times from exactly the painter’s perspective. “Everyone has that reaction” my friend told me. He continued: “I think it’s because the painter had been there so often that he managed to paint a sense of familiarity right into the canvas”. That sentence immediately expanded my idea of art, and I spent a lot of time looking at that painting. As a photographer, I began trying to imbue photographs with psychological attributes too–with a sense of familiarity, or wonder, or surprise–something relate-
Eventually, I stopped trying to do with photography what the painter had done with a canvas. It wasn’t my thing as a photographer. I suppose Rae and I eventually came to an almost opposite position, actually… one that stemmed from our somewhat persistent and sometimes frustrating pastime: trying to be real. Trying to be real, is real hard sometimes. Rae and I read a lot of Brene Brown and others, and have a lot of heart-t0-hearts, trying to put the bullshit aside and just be ‘real’. It’s so much easier to pretend that I’m socially graceful, bullet proof and endlessly sophisticated. Sometimes I get so lost in the act that I lose sight of my true character, so flawed and so human (and so gassy right now). Our goal as a photographer is to catch people in their “true self” moments, when their wonderful, vulnerable, human characters are exposed. There are a million ways to approach photography, but this is a bit more our schtick, I think.
And while Rae and I apparently have to really work at ‘being real’, it’s cool to come across people whose personalities are so charged and whose uniqueness is so complete, that they probably couldn’t hide themselves if they tried. Of course, I’m talking about Dave and Lorie (bride and groom to this wedding). Why did they choose Chapters as a wedding venue? Well, they had their first date there, and they both left the date (and store) with a copy of Christopher Hatfield’s book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. Presumably on the second date they had some awesome ice-breaker conversation. Months later, when Dave was ready to propose to Lorie, he created a scavenger hunt that lead to him on one knee in Chapters. When they tell this story, they giggle excitedly and admit that they became a little shy and the proposal actually got redirected (into their car in the Chapters parking lot, where Dave still managed to get on a knee). If all this sounds unbearably uplifting, like a script from a romantic comedy, I know! It only made sense, then, to get married in Chapters, surrounded by family, friends, books, and a stone’s throw from Starbucks. Chapters was super cool to host the wedding, and even arranged some very thoughtful gifts.
This is, in my mind, a wedding that Lorie and Dave have imbued with their own sense of meaning. They turned their wedding into their own ritual, one cloaked in their own story, their own characters.