Wedding in the Woods

If you can book me for a wedding, I congratulate you on your persistence  I don’t like to take on a lot of wedding work (2 to 3 a year, tops), simply because I completely lose myself in the overwhelming amount of beautiful moments captured…its a mountain of work most don’t (can’t) understand, sifting through and editing thousands of images, dwindled down to a select hundred for the client to see. Not to mention the fact that I can’t control when a couple decides on their final images if they want printing. It could be a day after I give them the pics or a year. You gotta give people their time to pick those shots. Period. Sure, you can shoot less, be more efficient in your workflow. That’s a fine approach if you’re a business. As an artist, I say nonsense. As a perfectionist, I want to kick my own ass during the process. Look, we don’t have the luxury of technically advanced DSLRs that shoot 11fps at our fingertips for no reason. I shoot my damn ass off…especially at a special life moment like a wedding, I don’t want to miss a thing. There are subtleties in the eyes, fast moving embraces, slights of the hand, movement you wish to hold in time…shoot all of it. Weddings are no joke, you get in the zone and literally lose yourself in the work for hours on end. If you’re a physical photographer like me, its quite a demanding gig. Your gear can weigh up to 40/60 lbs., all nicely stored in a backpack you keep constantly strapped to your back. See, this is where I’m different…most keep their bags/cases on the ground, in a secluded location – wise, organized, convenient – naw, F that – I want everything in my arsenal within arms reach, either on my back or pretty damn close by me for quick changes (lenses, filters, flash, batteries, etc.). Now imagine luggin’ that gear up and down a mountain, along with a step-ladder & a tripod…in the woods. And you’re 6 months pregnant…not me, duh, my 2nd shooter, Cindy (she was quite amazing in the mix) – for the record, she packs well…I, on the other hand, torch my back with the amount of gear I insist on luggin’ around. That’s what went down in early September 2011 as I happily jumped at the opportunity to photograph my old college (Go BEARS!) buddy Brian’s wedding to the lovely & beautiful Jackie at the Pema Osel Ling Retreat Center in the Santa Cruz mountains. Now, like I said, I take weddings serious, so I drove up early to scout the location (quite a drive from Los Angeles, but well worth it once you’re there). Whether I’m DJin’ or the lead photographer for an event, I always get no sleep on “Game Day”. This was no exception. Well, back up. This could’ve been an exception, but Cindy & I were joined by her husband (also, both CAL grads), my good hommie, retired-turntable-bredren @longbeachomar…and well, you see, he snores. Like SNORES. Like I-think-there’s-a-boar-being-choked-to-death-in-this-tent snores. Feel me (sorry Roam ;)). God bless him, the man enjoys a good sleep. And in all fairness, I would’ve gotten up at 6am anyways (for the record, I was up at 4am…just sayin’). I had to be up early, because I had to walk the grounds again. I had to find THAT spot. It hadn’t struck me the afternoon/eve before. Sure, there were good spots, great spots even, all over this place, but the lighting wasn’t consistent with the time of day of the actual wedding, so I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw. Music feeds me. I can’t live without it. So, I strapped on my iPhone, bumped some left-field-instrumental-cinematic-sample-based-clickity-earthy-beatz and walked through the early morning woods. I think I found it within 30secs. I sensed it late at night. It was right beneath our “Yurt” (quite the bling’d out tent, with electricity, flooring, dome ceiling and a heater – for real, it was kinda ill)…was too dark to see clearly at such a late hour, but it looked like a canopy of trees and fallen leaves. When I saw the path in the morning, my eyes were dancing. I love it when what’s in my head comes to life. And the location meant all that more as the day progressed and I got to see them as a couple. It was so fitting to see them get married under an umbrella of redwoods. You know how you can judge people by the company they keep? Brian & Jackie keep the best. They are such beautiful souls, I felt myself full of emotion through very intimate moments with them (the most intimate of which was when Brian got to see Jackie prior to the ceremony – it was just the two of them, with Cindy & I documenting. Amazing moment to witness). Thank you for letting me share this special day with you both. I can’t wait to do the 25th anniversary  For now, enjoy some of my favorites from that gorgeous day in the mountains.

Yash Dhillon