When Janine arrived at my studio, we embraced. “I can’t believe it’s been ten years”, we exclaimed almost simultaneously. Her eyes, scanning the framed art on my showroom walls, grew misty as they rested on the portrait hanging near the mantle. She had instantly recognized the slender figure, surrounded by tufts of white swirling at her feet, the black gloved hands clutching her delicate veil, her eyes, shrouded in mystery.
We stood silently with our thoughts drifting back in time, recalling the day we met for her bridal portrait at the Lakeview Cemetery! We had agreed that with Janine’s chosen gothic theme for the wedding, it would be the perfect place to capture something special.
We began, of all places, in the mausoleum. I sensed right off that this would be no ordinary bridal session!
Like a bird suddenly freed from its cage, Janine unleashed her spirit. She pranced about, playfully embracing walls of cold stone and flashing ‘over the shoulder’ mischievous glances while I happily clicked away.
The celebratory air continued outside as I followed her throughout the cemetery, dashing irreverently between ancient gravestones like a gnome chasing a wood nymph trying to steal her ever elusive image.
Our journey ended at the Garfield Memorial, where her silhouette appeared at the top of the stairs, partially enveloped in her full length veil, waiting patiently for the sounds of my shutter.
I soon joined her at the top.
Although I was having the time of my life, as the evening light dimmed,, I felt impelling urgency; each image being captured became more precious than the last.
Janine couldn’t have cared less.
She was having the time of her life as well and was making the most of it.
We moved furiously, around the balcony as if it were the last day on earth, with me reacting to her unpredictable moods: one moment crouching down like a helpless little girl looking up through sad eyes, and the next, tugging the veil around her face and falling into fits of careless laughter.
This kind of photography couldn’t be posed. There wasn’t much directing, just a keen awareness of visual cues, each one being quickly collected like little gemstones.
Then the magic happened.
There it was, where the geometric patterns of granite blocks behind her and the stone etched lines of terrace lent an unsettling, almost eerie perspective leading directly to where she stood at the apex, her ghostly expression seeming strangely both lost and found, sad and joyful.
Then, at that split second of capture, as if on cue, time stood still as her veil floated up in a gentle puff of breeze.
With one click it was all over. We were back on earth.
Fast forward a year later…
As the escalator slowly lifted me and our small group of photographers from the floor of the Dayton Convention Center, I was arrested by a familiar voice calling my name from below.
He said “Get Ready”!
“You need to wear a suit.”
He responded, but this time the voice was more insistent, with a hint of knowing.
With disdainful eyes glaring at my well worn jeans, he bellowed “You need to get a suit”!
It wasn’t until I noticed my friends all nodding and winking in my direction that it dawned on me that from the several prints I had entered into competition, I might have won something.
The second time I heard my name called was that evening at the awards dinner. My legs felt weak as I shyly ambled to the front of the crowded room where a plaque was placed in my shaking hands.
The engraved words in bronze read: “Best Bride Portrait, Mideast States Convention”.
And then the towering feeling of that awe inspiring moment when time stood still came rushing back.