Friday, January 22nd got off to a bad start. My cat, Paxton, had been at the vet since Tuesday. This was the day I had to decide whether to put him down. I made the call. Hardest thing I’ve had to do in 32 years.
I could go on about him. I want to. I want you to know how much I hurt. But that would be selfish; because this day is about more than my buddy, Paxton. This day, Friday, January 22nd is my father’s birthday. The big 6-OH. And except for a brief visit with him right after Paxton’s death, I couldn’t be with him that day. Because this day, Friday, January 22nd is also about Lisa and Ryan.
I shot Lisa and Ryan’s engagement pictures in Baldwin Park, FL a few months earlier. And today was their wedding reception at Casa Feliz in Winter Park, FL. “Casa Feliz” means “happy house” in Spanish. The Spanish-style estate was built during the Great Depression at a cost of $28,000. The elegant brick house was actually moved and now sits on a golf course in upscale Winter Park.
I arrived just as Lisa and her family pulled up. After the traditional family photos, I had just a few minutes of daylight left to take some photographs of Lisa and Ryan by themselves.
Then I was in photojournalist mode. I am most comfortable here. Spending the early part of my career in broadcast journalism as a news videographer, I enjoy melting into the background. Being a fly on the wall. Observe and report.
There was a moment or two during the night when I thought of Paxton. But I pushed it back. Had to. Had to focus on the task at hand. I can’t screw this up. Lisa and Ryan are relying on me to document their night. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having. This is their night.
I did make myself laugh once. As a kid playing football in the backyard with my brother, I remember him telling me to cover my guy like “white on rice”. So I reminded myself to stick with the bride like “white on her dress”. Afterall, the bride is the focal point of the night. To paraphrase Scott Kelby, no one cares about pictures of the uncle.
Most of the night was spent just roaming, looking for those special moments. Not much use for off-camera flash in these fire-and-forget scenarios. I first tried my Lumiquest Bouncer on my 580EXII flash; but I found the results too harsh. So I switched to my Sto-fen Omni Bounce with more pleasing results. There was one area of the house, a porch, that gave me great color and saturation. I was bouncing my flash off the ceiling of the overhang. Maybe it was the weathered paint, but I loved the rich colors on my LCD screen. Whenever I stepped out there, I just dialed in the same settings (ISO 500, f/4.0, 1/45th) and I knew I’d get the same results.
There was dancing.
There was cake.
And then I was done. As I packed up my gear I looked back at the house and I saw one more irresistible shot. The interplay of blues and greens and orange under a full moon…well see for yourself.
Then I came home and cried for my dear friend Paxton. Friday, January 22nd; helluva day.