Sunday, May 20, 2012

Valerie+Kevin: Wedding Photography at The River Mill

It was three weeks out from our accident, and Melody was still in and out of the doctor's office. The Sunday before this wedding, after a weekend of doing nothing more than editing photos, she woke up in a great deal of pain, her shoulders and neck twisted up. She could barely move without wincing. I made her stay in bed all day and her mom made the trek down from Tuolumne to help out.

The very next day I took her to the doctor's office again. To give you an idea of how bad it was, upon leaving the doctor's office, a little old lady in her 70's said to the doctor, "She looks worse than I did."

Prescription: Another week off of work and NO photography.

Melody is anything if not stubborn, and she very nearly insisted on going anyway but I wouldn't have it. As important to her as every wedding is, the doctor's words echoed in her head, "Do you want to be able to pick up your son ever again?"

It was time to call upon our peers again, and this time Heather Marshall came to our aid even though she had a bridal shower to throw for her sister the very next day. We are truly blessed to be surrounded by so many caring and giving people.

So off we went, Heather and I, to photograph a  gorgeous wedding at The River Mill in French Camp, and what a day it was. The winds that would blow Aaron Draper and I around a week later when I assisted him with one of his weddings were all but non-existent. The skies were clear, but the sun did not beat down on us. The grounds were green with spring, flowers in bloom. It was the perfect day for a wedding. It is one of those gambles that every bride and groom makes when planning a spring wedding; in this case it paid off in spades.

We started with Valerie at her hotel room where she was getting into her gown. One word: gorgeous. Sun kissed skin, golden hair, and surrounded by beautiful bridesmaids.

 At The River Mill we got into the hi-jinks of making photographs.

Here we see Brianna and Lauren, Co-Maids of Honor, battling it out with their bouquets. These girls were too much fun and filled with great ideas. At one point I even turned to Lauren and asked, "Well, what do you think we should do next?"

 Valerie's dad hamming it up for Heather's camera. Heather Marshall

 Lauren with the photo bomb. Heather Marshall

Heather Marshall

Heather did me a great service by staying with the guys and getting their shots done while I remained with Valerie to take a few more bridals and set up for the not-quite first look. My favorite part was when Valerie, so overcome with the emotion of the day and being so close to Kevin yet kept apart from him, actually tried to hug him through the door. Sweetest thing ever.

 Kevin trying hard to keep the composure that he had just barely regained moments before.

 I love putting these next two shots together. Heather's shot of dad trying to keep his composure placed  back-to-back with my shot of Valerie's expression. These shots happened just seconds apart and are the reason that I love always having two photographers at a wedding: that other perspective.

  Back story. Valerie's parents, who have been married 35 amazing years, have a hand gesture that they give to the other when they want to say everything without saying a word. But it doesn't have the kind of meaning that I'm sure springs to mind. It means, "I love you infinity." They passed it on to their children, and now Kevin, who is clearly a real part of her family, uses it as well. So at the end of his vows, that is exactly what Kevin gestured to Valerie. It had everyone in tears and was truly one of the sweetest moments I've had the pleasure of photographing. While I did capture the first kiss, I felt this was a far more appropriate shot to encapsulate the ceremony.
Girls being girls and guys being guys.

Whenever possible, I try to give the bride and groom a moment alone. I might give a few directions, but for the most part I just want them to breathe after the insanity of family pictures. In this shot I've told Kevin to play with Valerie's fingers. As any guy would, he thought it was ridiculous and yet it made for a completely genuine expression.


While these two are clearly beautiful on the outside, it was  so wonderful to see the amount of caring and empathy inside each of them that made them genuinely beautiful people, not just pretty faces. Thank you again for trusting us to capture your day, and thank you to Heather who was invaluable.

And for those wanting an update on Melody, she's getting a lot better. Regular visits with the chiropractor and not being allowed to do anything strenuous has helped her a great deal. Expect to see more photographs from my lovely wife soon. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jillian + Nate: Patterson Wedding Photography

Posted by David 

"What happens when the unexpected occurs?" 

That's what most brides want to know when they meet with you. They've read the articles in wedding magazines, heard horror stories at their hairdresser's, and have their list of questions to ask that were provided by The Knot. And really, a photographer can tell you whatever they would like and you just have to trust that they are a person of their word. In Jillian and Nate's case, the unexpected happened just two days before the wedding. 

We were covering the Every 15 Minutes event for Gustine High School. I'd just ridden out to Doctor's Medical in Modesto in an ambulance and photographed a mother break down at the sight of her son on an emergency room gurney. About an hour later, I got back to the school and Melody and I were off to the retreat portion of the event. Suddenly, another driver turned in front of us. 

Yes, that is our car. I once again found myself in an ambulance, only this time it was Melody on a stretcher and none of this was for show. Once Melody was admitted, even before calling our parents, I got on the phone with a good friend, Aaron Draper, and asked if he'd be available to help out on the wedding since it was clear that Melody should sit it out. In the world of photographers, there are cut throats, and then there are amazing friends who are always willing to go to bat for you. Aaron is the latter. 

Once I had him lined up, and still before letting our parents know what was going on, I called Jillian. 

"Hey Jillian, this is David. I'm going to be posting some pictures to our facebook in a few minutes, but I wanted to talk to you before you saw them. First, I want you to know that everything is alright, but we were in an accident today. I'm feeling fine, but they want to run some tests on Melody. They're pretty sure that nothing major happened, but she's not going to be in any condition to shoot on Saturday. I've already got a good friend, Aaron Draper, to come and shoot with me, so you have nothing to worry about when it comes to your wedding." 

Now, the thing you have to understand is that Jillian was one of Melody's students and has been one of our biggest fans since we started. The idea of Melody not being there was equally hard on both of them, but her first concern was Melody's health. 

Well, the big day came, and guess whose stubborn wife decided to come, immovable neck and all. Still, Aaron and I didn't let Melody carry her bag, just her camera.

Melody hung out with the bridesmaids at the church, waiting for Jillian's arrival. When she saw Jillian's car pull up, she hurried from the room to get pictures of the bride approaching the church. Jillian, upon seeing her, exclaimed, "I thought you weren't going to make it!" and nearly burst into tears. Mel replied, "I wanted to be here for your day! I didn't want to miss this!" That is the kind of strength my wife has. 
I think it was after shooting this photo that Melody had to sit down on the ground so that she didn't pass out. The following day she spent the majority of the time in bed. But I think she'd say that it was worth it.

Clockwise from top left: 1-4 Aaron Draper, 5. Melody Noceti, 6. David Noceti
A little hoedown before the ceremony to get rid of that nervous tension, followed by a quiet prayer.   
Many photographers believe that the art of photography is done in the moments leading up to an exposure. Once they've made the shot, the art has been created and they are finished. They then head back to their computer, apply some preset that they bought off of a website and call it good. Maybe it has a vintage feel, maybe something warm and contrasty, but in the end it's someone else's interpretation of the shot. Not so with me. I build my own presets.

I have presets that work best with Melody's shots, presets that work best with mine, and on occasion I create something new that fits with a mood of a wedding. Jillian's wedding is a good example of this and the following photographs were adjusted using a preset I made specifically for this wedding that I call, "Jillian's Smile." (Yes, I usually name them after the bride.) It has a cool pastel glow with just a touch of the vintage feel that worked wonderfully in the back rooms of Community Presbyterian Church in Gustine.

Even the little ones wanted in on this prayer circle. 
Before the ceremony, Jillian and Nate wanted to read letters that they wrote to each other. The plan was to find a wall or a divider that could separate them while we snapped photos of the reactions. Well, Community Presbyterian had no such location where we could accomplish this without revealing Jillian to her guests.

What we opted for instead was setting Jillian up in a vacant room, then backing Nate in with his eyes closed until we had them set up back to back. They weren't allowed to turn around; they could only read the prepared letters. It was adorable.

Remember how I said that the talented Aaron Draper was there with us? I thought that the series of shots that came of this setup were quite telling of our three styles. Aaron, Melody, and I were all in the room taking pictures, yet each of us saw the scene in a different way.
Aaron saw the shoes and clasped hand.

I saw the letters.

And Melody went for a very linear shot (not her norm) with all the focus on the clasped hands.
 Jillian's heartfelt moment with her mom. Dad seemed to know just what to do to chase the tears away.

After the ceremony it was time for some quick family photos. I almost never post these but the cheeseball photo of Jillian with her brothers was too much to pass by. I even added the old school white vignetting for a boost in cheesiness.
 I couldn't post Jillian with her brothers without adding one of Nate and his two beautiful sisters.
 What a fantastic little spot this was. There are so many shots from this location that it was really hard to pick. To accompany Melody's touching shot that started out the post, I opted to add this because it captured a lot of the whimsical feel of the area.

 This moment during the first dance I think closes out the day nicely.
There were honestly so many more that I wanted to include in this post: the light-sabers, the sundae bar, the photo booth that Jillian's lovely and talented sister-in-law ran... If you were a guest of the wedding you'll be able to see all of that here: once the couple has had the chance to go through them and give us the okay to open the floodgates to friends and family. The password to get into the gallery can be found on the cards that we had out by the slideshow during the wedding.

A great big thank you to Aaron Draper for coming out and lending a hand. An even bigger thank you to Jillian and Nate for being so concerned and understanding. We truly enjoyed being there for this, and as we can see, not even a trip to the emergency room could keep us from being there.

For those of you wondering how Melody is doing, she's feeling much better. She's back to work and going to physical therapy three times a week. And me? Well, as I told Melody, I think I just had a stronger guardian angel because other than being a little stiff, I came out of it unscathed and even went to photograph the second part of Every 15 Minutes at the school the day after the crash. All things considered, we were both very fortunate.