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In 2014 I shot the Real Maine Wedding of the year, it was a crazy ride, for the Real Maine Weddings magazine, a local-to-Maine wedding magazine, and they hold a contest every year for brides to compete to win a $100,000 wedding.
The first night of the wedding week festivities, the wedding brass shows up. Magazine editors Christine and Melanie, The wedding planner darling, Amber Small of Sweetest Thing, The Bethel Chamber of Commerce director, Robin Zinchuk and the promotor of the Maine Wedding Association, Joan Montgomery even shows up to lend a hand. It was like a who’s who of the wedding industry here in Maine. No pressure. Just rock it out photographers!
Carol Savage and I have been shooting this thing for the entire year, and this is go-time. Carol and I have carved up the week and a third photographer comes in for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding day to shoot details for the vendors. Everyone has donated their time and the vendors are getting our lovely photos. And we are getting tons of exposure. It’s exciting! I’m on deck for the Welcome Dinner at The Mountain House.
Tara, Trevor and their families and bridal party arrive. They are the stars of this whole operation, or as I have taken to thinking of them in my own head, “the talent”. Everyone is in high spirits. I had heard that Tara-the-bride had been bitten in the face by a dog just a few days before the wedding, and everyone is kind of nervous. Nobody wants to see a bride on her wedding day with a big old dog bite. We universally feel awful for her. But she arrives and the new scar is practically invisible already. We are living in the moment!
We take some portraits in the apple orchard and the maid of honor (MOH) twists my arm into having a drink. I always refuse alcohol on wedding days, but this is no wedding day and I have already been excused by Melanie who wants me to rest up for the main attraction. Amazingly, I do relax after the drink, but find I am less interested in shooting photos. My no-alcohol policy remain in place.
I slept in the next morning. After the past week and looking ahead to this week, it was so glorious, I’ve never had quite such an appreciation before for my pillow. I took a swim in the lake! So fabulous. Carol was with the talent photographing spa day with Tara and the ladies and in the rain with Trevor as they played a round of golf. Trevor is a golf professional, so I think he was pretty thrilled, no matter the weather. I got my game face on and went to the rehearsal and then to the Sunday River Golf Course to shoot the rehearsal dinner. Which was surprising similar to a rehearsal dinner. Toasts, dancing, great food, (compliments of The Good Food Store, who also rocked the Welcome Dinner). Audra Welton comes in as the third shooter and the team is complete. A sixteen hour shooting day is on deck for tomorrow, and this is facing the gal (me) who’s standard coverage starts at 6 hours. Coffee don’t fail me now!
I awake like a coming out of a dream. I am facing the day of by far the largest day of shooting of my life, and I am falling into my routines with great ease. I am so grateful that I have built up very specific habits over the past eight years of shooting wedding. Every bag is packed precisely, I can grab for batteries and lenses without even thinking. The car is loaded with forensic care.
I am at almost 100%. As I, myself, am getting ready, I can’t find the pants I had long-ago designated as the pants I want to wear to shoot this day. I realize I have been thinking of them as my lucky pants. It is incredible how much this irks me. I am distracted by my (perfectly fine) pants until about noon, when I finally forget about it. Photographing the getting ready with Tara is remarkably like any other wedding I have ever shot.This is the last time I say this that day.
With two photographers shooting this huge pro-bono event, there seemed to be an undercurrent of worry that the two of us were going to be at each other’s throats. I won’t deny that shooting with another photographer brings up competitiveness, but it usually serves to push me to be more creative and get better photos. It’s why I am active in online photography groups and am friends with other photographers- I like to improve my game.
But as far as fighting with Carol? No way. We have known each other for twenty years. She was one of the very first people I’d met after I moved to Western Maine out of college. We worked for Sharpshooter Photography at Sunday River.- we shot and sold souvienier portaits to skiing families. We’ve been friends ever since. I eventually bought a house directly across the lake from her and could walk over to her house or even canoe.
We are big fans of each other and wish great sucess to each other. Do we ever scrap it out? Of course! But teamed up as we were, there was never any question that there would be any infighting.
Suffice to say, that during the wedding ceremony, we didn’t even bother mapping out a game plan- we just bobbed and weaved and communicated wordlessly. If one of us saw a great shot that the other one was in a better position to shoot, we used hand signals and head nobs. We were like Seal Team Six all over that wedding ceremony. It felt really good as a photographer and amazing to be working with such a great compliment to my own work.
After the wedding we got to spend time with the couple and do portraits. This got a little weird. As neither Carol nor I were the official “lead” photographer, we were both working our slightly different magic. And the editors of the magazine were whispering in our ears for photos they might like to see designed for their cover. It worked out great, though, and we got some incredible images for the magazine and for their album.
After the couple portraits, we drifted over the the cocktail hour (also hosted by The Bethel Inn) and I set up my standard mobile studio to grab any additional formal photos that we’d missed before the ceremony. Holy Freaking Formals. It ended up being like an attraction at the fair and it was a ton of fun. I must have shot over thirty different groups- mom and her bridge buddies, the cousins with their dates, without their date, the group of guys who went to camp together that one year. It was a riot.
Remember when I said this was a wedding like no other? We all went back up to Sunday River for the I the reception. I set my lights, and I sat down. Yes, wedding photographer who are reading this, I. sat. down. When does that happen? Not immediately, I did shoot the first dance, the parent dances, the toast, but open dancing started and I went in the back room and put my feet up. Carol stayed out on the dance floor and shot for a good hour while I chatted with the magazine editors and the wedding planner and ate a leisurely dinner. Luxury!
Carol finally bid us good night and I picked up the torch and shot til I dropped. Or shot until the wedding dropped. I shot right to the end of the reception at Sunday River’s Sliders, which would seem like it would be the end, but we all trundled to the after party at Rooster’s. These guys did not stop partying. It was very impressive, but after the week I’d had, I was o.v.e.r. Happy, but ready for bed.
This sounds like the end . . . no way. Next up- one more day!
Is that all you got, Real Maine Wedding week? Seriously? I woke up with ahead of steam, ready to fight more battles. Good thing too, as there was the day-after brunch on tap at The Phoenix Bar and Grill. I got in early and met up the florist. Audra- the-details-phtoographer was gone, so I took over on shooting details for Janet Black. Quite beautiful!
After the brunch, Tara and Trevor, always happy and willing to turn on a dime for photos, were gracious enough to take the golf cart out for a spin. Intrepid photographer that I am, I suggested taking a longer spin around the resort to let the crowds thin out. Well, our golf cart had less than a full charge on it and we ran it right out of juice. Of course. It was kind of hilarious and bride groom and photographer pushed the golf cart up over the hump in the road and coasted it back almost all the way to the Phoenix.
I hugged them until their eyes popped and then I waved them off to their last engagement at the Pinicle Mountain Inn to do their last shoot-of-the-week with Carol.
After Carol finished with them, I lured her over to my house, we killed a bottle of champaign and I am happy to report their are no photos of that part of the week. But, if you really need details of the photographers after-party, buy me a cocktail, and I will spill it all!
It was a crazy year and a fabulous fun week.thank you to Real Maine Weddings and all of the vendors who made this event happen.