Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A country wedding at the Double-T in Stevinson California


So what can I say about Hannah and Keith other than I suppose it was kismet that we ended up finding each other.

In late October of last year both Hannah and I were stuck in a state of limbo with regards to May 10th of 2014. While she was wondering if she’d find a photographer that was available that day I was wondering if either of the two inquiries I had for that day were going to pan out.

Inquiries for wedding dates are a tricky thing for photographers. We can’t save dates without a contract. We just can’t. I’ve turned away inquiries before because someone was “definitely going with us,” just to wind up sitting home that weekend and out much needed income.

Usually, what happens is you book the day and then get others asking about it, but choosing a photographer can be a big decision for many. That’s why you often have a ‘let me think about it,’ period with some clients. Inevitably, you get more than one person asking about the same day at the same time, and when you do, you find yourself between a rock and a hard place.

That’s the kind of pressure I was feeling when Hannah called. Another photographer that I shoot with had recommended her to me because she was booked. “Yes, the day is available, but someone else wants it… but I can’t hold it for them. If you sign before they do, it’s yours.” That might sound like a salesmen’s pressure tactic, but for wedding photographers it happens a lot.

In the past, I would call the other inquiries and let them know that the date could be slipping away, warn them, give them a fighting chance, but there was this hopefulness in Hannah’s voice. She’d be in the very next day if she could, but she was hours away and had work. She insisted that she and Keith would be up to see me on their very next day off just a couple days away.

In the interim I had to wrestle with the possible consequences of going with Hannah and Keith over the others, or what I’d have to say to Hannah if one of the other inquiries signed in the meantime. Clearly, none of that happened.  Hannah and Keith made the trip up, we sat and talked about their day, well, Hannah and I talked while Keith relaxed.

When we were done we had a signed contract. More importantly than that, I didn't have a single regret. Was there blowback on the other side? Of course. Did I feel terrible about having to let someone else down? Yes. But I also knew I’d made the right decision. Hannah and Keith were amazing people with kind hearts and gentle spirits and somehow I just knew that’s where I wanted to be on May 10th.

Later that day, when talking with Melody about the meeting, I said, “They’re my kind of people, down to earth. I’m glad I let fate take its course.”
Double-T Ranch outdoor ceremony location
The Double-T has a nice outdoor location, complete with screened canopy for the ceremony.


Hannah and Keith work for a business that does guided horseback tours, as such, the Double-T in Stevinson was the perfect venue for them. If you've never been there you’re really missing out. I’m sure many guests have made their way out to the dusty little town in the middle of nowhere thinking, “Oh boy, what are we in for?”

Out amidst the pastures in the California dairy land sits this little replica of a small old western town built up over the years by the Azevedo family. On the exteriors of large metal buildings they have the faƧade of something out of Hell on Wheels. The level of detail in the recreation is really quite impressive.

I've shot there before with another photographer. It’s a photographer’s playground, and each time I went I’d imagine the things I’d shoot if I ever had the chance to shoot a wedding of my own there. From the old jail cell, to the dance floor in the barn, it’s all amazing. Oh, and the train. Like an actual train. Not one engine, or a caboose, a full on steam engine with several cars and a caboose! I could shoot there for years and not run out of ideas.

As it turned out, on this particular day, it was a touch windy. Gusts of wind up to 34 mph. Wind that was filled with dust. As you’ll see further on, we worked that to our favor.

But enough talk, let’s look at PICTURES! 
Wedding dress hanging in train car.
Hannah's dress was gorgeous but there wasn't much room to shoot it and with the wind blowing like it was, I wasn't about to take it outside. Hanging it in the entryway to the train car and lighting it did the trick.
Wedding cake, horseback cake topper, wedding rings, from country wedding.
I loved all the details and textures they had at the wedding. In the ring shot I used Hannah's boots laid over on the side as the surface for the rings to sit on. The cake topper was perfect considering their love of horseback riding.
Bride helped into her dress by bridesmaids
Hannah's dress was simple with just the right amount of elegance.

Bride on the back caboose of classic steam engine locomotive.
No, this train doesn't actually run, and it doesn't really look like this in real life either. Watch the video at the end of the blog to see how I transformed this scene from a dusty shot on the back of a museum train into what you see here.
Bride hangs from the train on a windy day.
The wind worked in our favor when it came to whipping the bride's dress around.

Groomsmen inside the barn at the Double-T
A sturdy, old barn doubles as saloon and dance floor at the Double-T. Here I'm using it to get a few shots of the groomsmen in a controlled lighting situation.

Groom locked up in jail cell
The Double-T even has a jail cell for when guests get out of hand.

Exiting the horse drawn carriage at the Double-T
At the Double-T you have the option of being escorted to the ceremony location via horse drawn carriage. Here, Hannah's dad helps her step out.

Horse drawn carriage couple's second kiss as man and wife.
After you're married the driver of the carriage takes the bride and groom away so that guests can make their way to the dining area. Upon returning you have an opportunity to catch a few shots in the carriage itself.

Silly faces during family photos.
Everyone was supposed to do silly faces. Keith didn't get the memo.
Hannah and all her siblings
We did a boring posed shot too, but I wanted a group hug. 

Bridal party gets the groom to laugh.
Eventually all of our shenanigans broke Keith down and he couldn't help laughing.
Naughty bride licks the knife.
It was too good to resist.
Bridesmaid tries to corral the cows during bridals
Anytime I don't have Melody or an assistant with me, I nab someone from the wedding to assist during portraits with the bride and groom. For this wedding I stole the charismatic Arielle who did her best to try and wrangle us up some cows.
Couple poses against barbed wire fence at susnset
Green grasses out in the pasture with the golden light of sunset all directed by the leading lines of the barbed wire fence.
Flowergirl chases a dance partner at the wedding reception.
I think she was trying to get him to dance. Proof that boys running from dancing starts at a very early age.
All smiles at the reception
Just a few of the happy faces at the reception.
black and white shot of the first dance
That hat was a pain in the butt to shoot around, but there were times when it caught the light just right, like in this backlit shot of the first dance.
Black and white photo of dad dancing with his daughter in the barn.
Hannah's dad had some of the best expressions during the father/daughter dance. There was no hiding his joy.
sister fixes the cuff on dad's pants
Minor wardrobe malfunction. No worries, sister to the rescue.
Country boy watches the dancing in the barn
Not sure if this guy was looking for a dance partner, or just watching. Either way he looked adorable doing it.
Little girl dances the night away in her cowboy boots
This little one was on the dancefloor all night long.
The line of dancers makes its way around the barn
Loved the expressions in this frame.
Country wedding, old western, wedding photo with a cowboy
When I was leaving I looked back at the replica town and saw this shot. I grabbed Hannah, Keith, and my assistant Arielle and snapped a few frames. I think you can tell where I'll be playing the next time I shoot at the Double-T in Stevinson.
And now it's time for the video:

If you're interested in this venue, you can find them here: http://www.thedoublet.com/
If you'd like to know more about our photography you can find us at: http://www.daveandmel.com
For our most recent work check out our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/melodyanddavid
For more videos and to subscribe to our channel go to: https://www.youtube.com/user/DefiningDave
And if you want to see cute pictures of our kids along with sneak peeks of what we're working on, follow us on instagram at: http://instagram.com/dnoceti