Rich listened to the man on the phone and then said, “Graven images? No sir. We are a photographic service, not a funeral home.” Rich wrote something on his pad. “Oh, I see. You are getting married but want no graven images? Got it. Well, here at Silva, we do photography.”
Rich gestured to Pete in the vein of ‘Where do these weirdos come from?’
Pete was waiting to discuss his first wedding shoot. It had been a huge break for him. He looked around the office. A large light table, for examining negatives, stood against one wall. Another wall was covered by a black and white mural of Salvador Dali flying through the air with cats and water.
Rich continued. “You want an artist to record the wedding? Like a painter? I see. As I said, we are photographic artists. If you contact the courts, they could recommend a court artist to help you…” Rich looked at his watch and then at Pete, who smiled.
“Of course. Mr. Charles? If I may? Should you decide you also want a photographer to cover your wedding, or any other event, we have a team of talented men and women who will happily provide you with the best photographic service. Yes. Thank you.” Rich hung up the phone.
He rolled his eyes. “No graven images? How about holograms?” Pete laughed. “Now, Pete, where were we?”
“We were looking at the Crinoline wedding.”
Rich held up the folder. “Right. Got it here.” Rich shuffled through the prints. He murmured, sighed and leaned across his desk.
“What is this crap? This is a wedding shoot?”
Pete stammered. “Of course. I got some good stuff, Mr. Silva.”
Rich slid one of the photos across the desk to Pete. “Like this?” It featured one of the bride’s maids just after the bouquet toss. The bouquet soared over her head, out of reach. Her expression said it all.
Pete cleared his throat. “I thought she was going to get it. But it’s still a good shot. Kind of poignant.”
“Pete. Was this a wedding shot by Diane Arbus? No one pays for poignancy. Don’t you get it? Weddings are happy, happy, joy, joy, joy... Did I say happy? No one wants to be reminded of their sad, dreary lives. Any wonder, no one hires us to cover their funerals?”
Rich let that sink in for a moment. He slid another picture to Pete.
“Pete, you don’t want them bursting into tears every time the wedding album comes out. What’s this?”
Pete glanced at it. “That’s the groom and the bride’s little brother.”
“The kid is sticking out his tongue.”
“He’s taking his big sister away. It’s cute.”
“I can just see that over their sofa. What about this?”
The picture showed three bride’s maids laughing together, standing in light streaming down from a stained glass window. In the shadows behind them, two groomsmen observe the young women.
Pete said, “It’s beautiful. Look at that light. It had to be taken.”
“If you want to do predators and prey, work for National Geographic. Don’t do weddings.”
Pete felt deflated. He lives to take pictures. His heroes are the legendary Weegee and Cartier-Bresson, masters of capturing ‘the moment’.
“I don’t know, Pete. Your stock group shots are alright. You have a good sense of light. Decent composition, but… I don’t know. Maybe you’re not ready.”
“Please don’t send me back to grade school portraits, Mr. Silva.” Pete blinked away a tear.
“Let me think about it… Oh, here. Who’s the gangster?”
“The bride’s father. The groom was late. He was waiting.” In the picture he stood, stone faced, cigarette poised, searching the distance. The church edifice rose behind him.
“Was he packing heat?”
“You mean a gun? I don’t think so. The groom drove up right after I took that.”
“You know this was a wedding, right? He looks like he’s about to light a fuse with that cigarette. Look at the length of that ash.”
“I was getting coverage, Mr. Silva. You know, personality stuff.”
“Well, he’s got personality alright. Al Capone looked better in a monkey suit.”
“He’s really a nice guy. Once the groom showed, he mellowed out. Here look…”
Pete found a picture of the two fathers shaking hands. Their smiles looked genuine.
Silva shook his head. “What? They’re about to wrestle?”
“That was them playing… They’re friends…”
The phone buzzed. Silva hit a button. The receptionist spoke, “Do you have a moment? The Crinolines are here…”
“Send them in.” Rich looked at Pete. “Hey, hey! It’s show time...”
The office door opened and a young couple entered. Pete and Silva stood to greet them.
Pete introduced them. “Carol and Don Crinoline, this is my boss, Rich Silva.” They all shook hands and sat.
Rich showed them the standard pictures of the family groupings, and wedding participants. Carol took the lead over most of the choices. She would look at Don to make sure he was on board. They seemed happy with Pete’s work.
Carol looked at Pete. “Is that it? I saw you rushing around shooting all sorts of things.”
“Oh, well… there’s a few…”
Rich offered the Crinolines the folder he discussed with Pete.
Carol and Don flipped through a few. Carol burst into laughter.
“I can’t believe you got Billy sticking his tongue out at Donny.” She nudged Don with her elbow. “You started it, didn’t you?”
Don chuckled. “Good thing Pete was behind me. Wouldn’t look good for a grown man to be sticking his tongue out at a poor little kid.”
Carol looked at Rich. “That’s a game they always play with each other. So silly. We need to order that for Billy to keep.”
Pete and Rich stole looks at each other.
“And here’s Mary, missing the bouquet. I so wanted her to catch it. Her boyfriend just broke up with her.”
Don said, “One of the guys, Tom, asked her out. She’ll be okay.”
“Oh, that’s beautiful!” Carol held up the shot of the bride’s maids standing in the beam of light.
“That’s Tom over on the left. He’s a good guy.”
“We want one of those too.” They shuffled through some others.
“Oh, my God. Look at my father! I didn’t know he still smoked. What’s he doing?”
“I think he was wondering why I was late.”
“He looks so worried. He loves you so much.”
Donny looked at Pete and Rich with a laugh. “Or plotting my demise, if I didn’t show.”
Carol hit Don’s shoulder playfully. “Oh stop. Seriously, he never reveals so much emotion. I didn’t think he cared that much. Here’s your mother.”
Carol held the print up for Rich and Pete. Watching their vows, the woman clutched a handkerchief. Her face revealed a fretful past and hopes for the future in one brief instant.
“She’s so wonderful.” Don nodded. Carol continued, “You know, that day… We were the stars taking our vows, but really, it isn’t just about us two. What we do affects so many around us.” Carol took Don’s hand. They smiled and bumped shoulders in solidarity.
Carol returned to the folder. “I don’t want to take more of your time.”
Rich smiled. “This is why we are here. Take all the time you want.”
Don saw a picture and smiled, “Ahhh, you got it.”
Carol gasped, “I didn’t know you took that!” Carol held up a picture of Don holding her from behind in low light. In the image, their hands entwine. She smiles enigmatically as he whispers something to her.
Carol reacts to Pete in mock outrage. “You are nothing but a voyeur!” They all laugh. “How big can we make that? I want it framed in our room.”
Rich closes the deal. “So, you are happy with Pete’s work?”
“These are amazing! How did you get these? And so many!”
Pete beamed. “You all kept me pretty busy.”
Rich brought out the order form to sign. He talks nonstop, as they complete their order. Carol and Don leave the office in high spirits.
Rich tells Pete to sit. Pete looks hopeful.
“So, Pete… We have a few weddings booked. You up to taking on another?”
“You bet, Mr. Silva.”
“Like I said, keep pushing that little button. You’re bound to get something good.”