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.