I have seen a lot of things through the eyes of inanimate objects. Snakes minding their own business slithering across sidewalks in Florida, geckos lounging on the sides of buildings in Florida, and cacti in Arizona. Finally, I have seen snow. Photography can put you in a lot of different places when your business is a large one…My business isn’t large. My business still struggles to not be late and pay for travel. My business is all of Orlando, half of Tallahassee, and two towns in Arizona. Now, my business is in Peoria, Illinois. My business is still just me, but now, I can afford the travel expenses. While it isn’t large, my business is an accepting, hopeful, and truthful one.
I’ve been taking pictures forever, but professional photography? I’ve only been in the biz for about a year, six months full time. While I adore plain and simple photography, my favorite gigs will always be weddings. People I know tend to attribute that to my needless ‘bigger picture’ mindset. I think it has more to do with being bad at everything else except waitressing. When I was working one Friday night, I ran into an old professor from college. Right away, I could tell she wasn’t there for the food, she was there for me. I recognized the look after I’d done gallery work, the star struck fixation.
“My Callie, it is good to see you!” I was shocked the woman even remembered my name, I stared at her baffled for a moment. “I saw your spread in Edible Orlando! I about died, I said to myself, ‘Lisa, you taught that girl!’.”
“Excuse me, huh? What made the magazine?”
“The Hannahs’ Wedding food spread shots! My, you don’t know? You captured the texture of that cake so well, I thought I could scoop it off the page! What software did you use?”Here she had just dropped the biggest news of my life up until that point and she was asking me about what software I used? I couldn’t think long enough to answer, even if I did want to. In lieu of that, I repeated myself.
“I apologize again-my photos are in Edible Orlando?”
“Yes!” Irritation accompanied her amazement. At this juncture, I wasn’t sure if her amazement was at me and my work or my inanity.
I really hadn’t heard. A week previous to that was my first professionally shot wedding. I went home after that shift and checked my email, voicemail, and checking account and sure enough…The old professor was right. This was a pivotal moment for me, because a majority of that money went right back into my business. Before this, I’d done art competitions and gallery walks, but mostly, that benefits the gallerist. This was the first time I’d done something I wasn’t sure I could do. I had a lot of external praise, but in the end that isn’t what matters. What matters is the faith I have in myself. I knew I had the potential, I could even envision myself doing the wedding shots at beautiful destinations. When I reached out to the Hannahs’, I was taking it as a rejection from rip.
I showed up to the meeting, nestled in a vegan restaurant nearby, sweaty and gross. Yet, I showed up prepared. Three letters of recommendation, my proposal letter, my resume, and my portfolio all accompanied me to this meeting. I was so early, that I almost didn’t notice that they were late. Florida weather was predictable, rain for ten minutes, then came the tangible humidity. Florida was very bright, very hot, and very tropical in some places, but very normal in others. Market on South was a beautiful food place, with its farmhouse appearance and general good vibes. I wondered if this couple was always late, as these guys were open until midnight.
Then, as I was taking pictures of the establishment, enraptured by its disjointedness… I heard the arguing. Rosemary and Louis were an incongruous couple right as I saw them. Rosemary being tall and elegant, gracefully sashaying ahead of Louis to meet me. Louis was stockier, less animated and more silent. They were wearing matching outfits, both with umbrellas clipped to their belt-loops. Locals. I’m sure I looked out of place, all hippy, no business.
“How do you know it’s even her, Rose?” Louis inquired as he tailed behind her.
“Are you kidding me, Lou, look at her! Straw hat and a Hamsa tattoo.” She shot an arm forward away from her body and gestured at my whole person. Catching up, Louis stood beside her.
“The other ones were… formal.” At this, Rosemary smacked her forehead.
“The other ones were cold and distant, they looked like Joanna Gaines dressed them in the morning. They aren’t genuine.” I raised my eyebrows, camera in hand. Despite their dust-up, the couple was so stupid in love, that I almost didn’t want to look at them. Instead, as Rosemary raised a hand to both her head and his to hold their hats down, I took a picture. The contrast was really bright, which I’d turn down but overall, this really captured the two of them.
Rosemary heard the shutter, saw the image, didn’t even bother with the rigmarole, and hired me right then. Over the weeks after that meeting, I’d done two prom photo shoots, one gender reveal, and one engagement shoot. The engagement shoot was for the Hannahs’ and was Louis’s time to ‘see the magic’ that Rosemary had. He did.
After spending uncountable hours with them, clients soon became friends. As their wedding came and went, the friendship remained. Rosemary, the effervescent and relentless gal she was, sent my spread of her wedding to three different magazines. Soon after Edible Orlando, came two wedding magazines. With each phone call and booking, I was a changed woman.
Now, that was five years ago, and I was shooting for them again. They moved north for work, something to do with Louis’s job, and I knew they were struggling in their own personal relationship. Rosemary had grown up a military brat and moved around a lot, where Louis hadn’t. Rosemary was settled in Florida when she first met and married Louis, thinking home was a place and not a feeling. Louis was advanced; he was home wherever Rose was. Louis had learned she was a steadfast and careful woman, boisterous without but not within. Rose was stuck. Moving for work added to the ectopic pregnancy, she was suffering loss in more ways than one. Louis was an angel, he was nothing but patient. When he called me about renewing their vows, I was not at all surprised. I agreed to shoot it. Rose’s dad paid for the whole thing.
When I flew out a few days ago, Rose called me asking me to describe my view. She was hoping for purples, browns, and beautiful Arizonian sand but I gave her honesty.
“The tarmac is bluish black, I see a sign for a bank. Tons of trees, there’s so many trees.”
“Trees are nice. Where’re you headed now?”
“Well, I’m currently getting into my own personal car. Black with tan seats. There’s a retirement home next to this bank.”
“Sounds like an important job.” I smiled at Louis, who was driving us to their home.
“Oh believe me, it is. I’ll call you when I get to my lodging.” A few minutes later, Louis and I pulled up. I stopped to call her before getting out.
“This place is nice, I love a good ranch style.”
“Is it an airbnb?”
“No, these people are supplying me with room and board at their own house. Where’s Louis?” In front of me, Louis walks inside and closes the door.
“Funny you should ask, he just got home. He was supposed to be getting a haircut.” I got out of the car. I made sure to slam the door as I did so.
“You don’t want him getting a haircut-”
“Hold on, Cal, someone is here.”
“Stay on the phone with me, anyway, like I was saying-” Before I could finish my sentence, she was barreling down the stairs at me. “You don’t want him to get a haircut before the renewal, do you?”
Now today, I stood down the aisle, taking pictures of their special day again. The venue was a vineyard, backed by a row of houses. In addition to the vineyard, was the venue's garden. The garden was beautiful. Something Louis was worried about after it snowed the other day. Today, however, was dazzling. The florals were pink and blue, in sapphire coated vases, full of daisies. Louis was nothing if not traditional, as everything was done on their fifth anniversary. The couple stole the show yet again, Rose in her pale blue gown and Louis in his white and pink suit. They really were made for each other. Behind their arch, stood a flock of lilac bushes. Green in color, blooms peeking out from under the snow, yet fresh. If love and Lilacs can continue to grow despite the wintery struggles, so can I.