About a year ago an email showed up in my inbox for a wedding inquiry that caught my attention and at the same time, didn’t make sense for me to take part in during my busiest time of the year.
“We are getting married where Rita grew up, on her family property of about 60 acres. The closest store or hotel is about 60 miles away. It probably seems a little silly to get married at such a location but it is so beautiful and means so much to her. It is going to be a very do it yourself wedding with a ceremony under the pine trees on the shore of a small lake and the reception in the barn… which we are flooring with old blue pine milled from the property.”
And after thinking about it, I said “no.”
And then another message arrived, “…our property is EXTREMELY remote… it is 2 hours and 15 minutes at least from the nearest airport in the middle of a National forest. It is an hour from the closest store. The property is 60 acres but is by no means a sculptured and perfected villa in the country. We live completely off the grid using solar electricity and hydropower. It is raw and rugged with many different eccentric out buildings, a huge garden, an orchard, a beautiful old rustic barn, and a peaceful small lake with a man made waterfall. The property spans along a crystal clear river and our only gardeners are our family and the horses who keep the grass short. This would definitely be an adventure for you. It is one of the most beautiful and remote parts of California. We want you to be excited about getting out of the norm and doing something out of your comfort zone. We want you to have fun. If you are 100% certain and excited about doing this we would be thrilled to have you but if have any reservations or doubts please be honest. We are not expecting anything! We understand this is your business and you have to choose accordingly. We just wanted to send you this email so that we didn’t go with someone else and always wish we had at least made you this offer.”
And with that, I said “YES!”
A few weeks ago I flew into Redding and drove three hours to Rita’s family property. It was a whirlwind trip that had me swimming in the Salmon river, eating wonderful vegetables from the garden, smiling and laughing and dancing late into the night. My memories of the day are less comprehensive; tending more towards bits and pieces. There are so many. I like to think that I captured the adventure completely but, I know that isn’t possible. I suspect that if everyone present had a camera (and new how to use it), they would have seen things in a different way; telling the story from their angle of experience. This line of questioning is something as an artists I contend with. Second guessing what I’m doing (because a lot of it is instinctual) has lessoned over the years and as my experience increases but, I’m always motivated to locate the special moments in between the obvious storytelling pictures. The moments in between the moments are where real life happens. They are the grit and the unpolished. The emotional smile that comes after the camera clicks is the one I want on film. The child playing in a sprinkler as soft words are spoken in front of a crowd of friends and the hang time right before someone splashes into a frigid river. I know the things I witness are only one perspective on a day. And they are captured visually which eliminates the smells, sounds, tastes and all the other sensations that go into creating our memories. Capturing the moments I see with my camera is the most honest and only way I know to tell a story. And for those who were there, I hope these pictures help conjure up a recollection of what you saw and how you remember.
Rita and Jordan, thank you for inviting me along on your adventure. There are so many moments I will never forget.