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Behind the Camera with Boy: The Wild Hearts Wedding

First thing's first, I need to squawk about figuring out how to properly use Live Mode on my camera. Like a dummy, I bought this camera more than a year and a half ago and was perplexed as to how it worked because its default was live view. I brushed it off as amateurish and now I realize I need to kick that kind of thinking to the curb and then go out with my camera manual for some playtime. Using Live Mode is a bit of a game-changer because I am the photographer in the meme to the right, but I also straddle bridge railings and climb on climbable things. It's nice to be able to perform acrobatics for my shot without balancing the camera against my face.

I'd like to think I'm bafflingly calm on wedding days, but I was very switched on after Sue and I pulled into the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy. We walked through collecting shots of the details in the reception and ceremony spaces in awe with how the flora grew and how sun bathed the woods, wildflowers, and wetland. Spots were twisting through the woods, pockets of sunlight between the trees, and depths I need to return to soon.

This blog is my opportunity to rattle on about light, a lot. It's an asset and a challenge that's almost second nature at this point, so I spent the whole first hour with my fingers crossed some of the mountainous cotton clouds would post up in front of the sun.

Kyle and his groomsmen asked for their first shots out in the cattails nearby. Some shots of them smiling, mean-mugging, and celebrating the day, no big deal, other than the fireball in the sky. The awe from earlier went away every time we had the pose ready, only for the wind to blow the clouds away. Let me tell you, there's no better party killer than having to set up and redo the same pose three times because we're hoping for a cooperative cloud. It was some perfect father-son time when Sue and I got to meet his son, Nash, and the rest of Kyle's family. I knew Nash would be the boss for the rest of the day to see if our shots turned out. Luckily we had plenty of spots around to choose from until the time was right and we did get shots in the cattails and then some.

We didn't have to worry about nature cooperating when Logan and her bridesmaids were ready for their turn with the portraits. Everything about the spot we took them was perfect: the greens complimenting the bridesmaids' gowns, the vast feeling of the woods, and the natural landscaping. Logan looked like the whole event was planned for how she looked. I know this seems like a shallow observation, but all of the compositions were like a ready-made puzzle and each shutter click came with the same satisfaction of finishing a puzzle.

First looks have become more commonplace with weddings I've shot in recent years. They've come in different forms with letters, surprises, gifts, and sometimes contact without actually seeing each other. Kyle and Logan planned theirs in a decorated gazebo where they shared their vows. It was a tender moment that is just theirs, and I chose to show some restraint to give them their time while I still got my shots. As soon as the final words were shared, we brought the whole bridal party to inject a little more fun in the event before showtime.

The clearing that hosted the ceremony was perfect for the occasion. If they didn't have the arbor, the chairs, and the decorations, this would still feel like a wedding ceremony. The hill sloped down. The sides were flanked by patches of trees and an open clearing. A small gazebo stood at the bottom of the hill with their unity sand waiting for the right moment.

Again, I chose to work in the back of the ceremony to catch the long shots and entrances, but I've only just now asked for a pause while everyone walked down the aisle to get the entrances. The wedding was proof that valuable learning experiences still happen when you aren't a student of any institution and discovering my best angles all around. More than anything, I'm happy with the work I did after Kyle and Logan became man and wife.

*****Afterward, I had another masterclass in posing. Sue can pose groups like it's her second or third (fourth?) nature, even setting up a group 38 in mere minutes.

With a few quiet moments, we stole Kyle and Logan away to a nearby clearing for their romantics. The tiny white flowers and different types of grasses made the woods look like a dreamy backdrop. It's a cool feeling making reality look like a dream with every embrace, dip, and kiss. I would equate this feeling to finding out the exact gift someone gave you and editing my work would be that moment. On-site, I can only hope that the bride and groom also found the time tucked away from the celebration as special as what Sue and I do.

The reception was robust and bustling while everyone waited for the grand entrance. I collected the last few details I was waiting to catch then saw the wedding cake and made a hard plan to eat one of the cupcakes surrounding it with my FULL FACE. Then that plan was sidelined when I saw the MASHED POTATO BAR before the meal (if you get married, look into one of these because I feel like this could be a cheap crowd pleaser.) If you're one for spotting trends and reads this blog, you would find this is approximately the time where all of my thoughts devolve into food.

Back to the matter at hand, the reason I've dubbed this "The Wild Hearts Wedding" is that this group, separate or apart, would be the life of the party. They kept the jokes flying while we were clicking through group portraits. They planned fun grand entrances, the wedding toasts were heartfelt and chock full jokes and memories. From the family of three to the new couples to the friends out to show their love and support to the family of 38, this wedding made a mark as unabashed, loving, and joyful.

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