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Behind the Camera with Boy: The Teacher's Wedding Celebration

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

July 27 was a bit about the putting The Boy Behind the Camera before going Behind the Camera with Boy. See what I did there? This day was all about celebrating the marriage of my high school journalism teacher, Dawn to her best friend in life, Mike. She's the first person who put a camera in my hands. I already wrote a tribute to this on my Facebook dated July 30.

To go even more personal, this was my first solo wedding booking since I was 19 years old. I shot my friend's wedding for $300 which I split in half with my friend Des (shout out for still supporting me and my camera activities eight years later, I owe ya one!). Me in 2012, one year in college, would've said I knocked it out the park. Me in 2019 looks at that wedding and says "god this person doesn't know what they're doing." I can tell I didn't have a grasp on the camera mechanics or how to use sunlight and I tilted the pictures, A LOT. Here's the proof, but this inspires a throwback Behind the Camera with Boy in case the link doesn't work.

Back then, I tried to go through the motions like how I thought Sue did by meeting with them to write up the shot list and schedule without knowing the true time investment. This time I knew what I was doing, although, because of my training I gave myself the clever little nickname "Discount Dick's Studio." I knew this wasn't a full wedding and loaded with sentiment, so the pressure of a ceremony was gone and I could put more of my focus on my posing to work.

Dawn and Mike were fortunate to have a perfect wedding day on Mackinac Island with bearable temperature, but the sun was forecast to bake Midland for their celebration at home. I was sweaty and worried about whether my shirt was tucked in until I entered the Midland Country Club and started scouting where the friendliest spot to shoot portraits was going to be, then I would worry about everyone else's sweatiness and tucked shirts. Fortunately, I found the spot below the ballroom with a brilliantly green golf course background and some good fluffy clouds floating over the sun from time to time. I crossed everything I could cross for the clouds to be cooperative.

I wandered through the elegant wooden dining rooms to find my discreet path to lead all the family and friends for portraits, then find Dawn preparing across from the ballroom. In-person--both at the country club and on the island-- she looked like how she envisioned, what she described to me. All the women in the room gave me a warm welcome with familiar smiles from those I remember growing up, her lifelong friends, and her niece Robin. We touched base and announced when I'd like to get started with the portraits, so we weren't late for showtime and everyone walked in from more than five minutes of air conditioning.

The ballroom across the hall was a large, glowing space with pearly white walls and filled with windows all around the outer perimeter. Spacious from the large dance floor, well-spaced tables and the buffet set up in the back, the room was decorated in a motif of their travels and I captured every detail. I found out I was "going to Germany" with my principal and her husband among others (Dawn was the Germany Exchange Advisor, so I could tell there was careful thought put into this event).

Over the years working with Sue, I've always been a little short with her because she's not the best with names. Now, I've never been the most confident with my posing, so being introduced to people at the pace of me clicking my shutter made me wish I had me trailing me around like Sue does to get everyone's name right. Luckily some cumulus clouds provided the right kind of shade and I managed to not call anyone by the wrong name.

We had 20 minutes before the grand entrance, enough time to cool everyone off and enjoy cocktail hour. This is a feat since the schedule can sometimes go from necessary to optional. Everyone breezed through their entrance then Mike and Dawn floated across the dance floor and between the tables so they could take their place at Alaska. They'd both told me they were going on an Alaskan cruise for their honeymoon so there was no more fitting place for them.

For some reason, I've had quite the sweet tooth this summer, so the great food was overshadowed by the various chocolates found in the party favors and strawberry shortcake. That priority is another reason why this is called "Behind the Camera with Boy" because I'll still tackle dessert even before a five-star meal. By the time we get to the cake cutting, I've found myself looking around for Sue to instruct the moment and remembered it was me (see a recurring element?). It was a tender moment and they kept it clean when they shared their piece of cake.

The setting sun flooded the ballroom with light when the dances commenced, bathing us in the romantic light I'd been waiting for when I first walked into this room. Coincidentally, the light strengthened as we moved out of the loving classics and into Dawn's high energy 80s dance mix. As a photographer, I love to move with my subject, so even though I was more or less frantically moving around the room doing a lot of squats with my camera, I would consider that dancing. When the "Cupid Shuffle" comes on, I tend to shuffle along with the crowd while still not being able to execute a single move on my own (Idk why).

Night fell due to an approaching storm, so I extracted the happy couple out to the patio for another scenic green view. This was an opportunity for us to have a quiet moment for some sweet nothings and to take in the calm before the storm and dancing the night away. After a couple more group shots and dances, I was able to pack my camera to be their guest a little while longer, and enjoy some end of the night sliders and fries. Feed me fries and you've got my heart for at least ten minutes.

Walking into the night, I knew this was another success for me. This event was a perfect time for me to reflect on my career thus far when I've spent a majority of the year pondering the subject. It was special because I've got the pleasure to see one of my teachers who dedicated an immense amount of time to her craft and connect with her best friend and make her next life outside of the school their best life.

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