I have the sense of hurtling through time and space at an extraordinary rate of speed. I realize that I am dozing and awake briefly as the howl of the V-8 engine in Laura’s Cadillac reaches a fever pitch. Any attempts to sit upright are nullified as four hundred horsepower propel us through the early morning hour. The acceleration lane of exit 150 on I-81 becomes a launching pad as left-lane assholes get passed in a furious blast of acceleration and premium fuel, economy be damned. I take over after we hit I-66 west on the way into to D.C, and honestly, I’m a bit more aggressive than Laura behind the wheel. After all, it’s not often I get to drive the Caddy.
This is my introduction to the world of wedding photography. I feel as though I know it, after all the years of helping Laura, but I’ve been largely relegated to being an equipment mule and lighting guy. I’m fine with that. Anything that I can do to help is fine by me. But this weekend is special. Laura has finally decided that I am ready to actually take pictures and help with an entire wedding. I’m nervous and very excited.
We’re headed to Baltimore, Maryland to the Museum of Industry. The lucky bride and groom have reserved the entire space and catered the event with Rogue Catering, so the food is guaranteed to be awesome. We pit stop in Centreville for a bowl of our favorite Vietnamese Pho, and as usual we are the only white people in the restaurant. The entire restaurant is silent except for the sounds of people happily slurping noodles. I’m thinking, this is not so bad.
We arrive in Baltimore ahead of schedule and with a couple of hours to kill, we head out into the Inner Harbor. We are trying to find a place to eat for Sunday morning and we are having zero luck. Tourist trap, tourist trap….somebody slap me. Really?? I’m in freaking Baltimore and we can’t find a place to eat?
It was at that moment of frustration that I see a dude in chef’s whites cruising down the boardwalk in front of me. I run him down and see a bit of panic in his face at first – I can’t help but think that he was afraid the big sweaty dude chasing him was trying to mug him, but the reality is that I am about as threatening as a Labrador Retriever. I ask him, “If you had one, just one morning to eat in Baltimore, where would you go?” He grins at me, and without hesitation, replies, “Miss Shirley’s.” We run back to the hotel to finish charging batteries, (after a quick stop in a haberdashery, where Laura picks out a couple of rather dashing hats) and google Miss Shirley’s. Awesome. It’s been voted the best restaurant in Baltimore!
Honestly, after this weekend, I have nothing but respect for wedding photographers. I had no idea how much work is involved. People constantly ask Laura what she does for arm exercise, and she is always a bit bewildered. I will tell you what she does: Strap an eight pound camera around your neck, a twelve pound camera bag around your shoulder and do the equivalent of three to six THOUSAND modified curl/triceps extension for eight to twelve hours at a time fifty or so days of the year and see what your arms look like!
It was the intensity at which she worked that threw me a bit. After about five hours or so, I began to tire and get a little bored. Not Laura. She was operating at the same level of intensity eight hours in as she was in the beginning. My eyes began to burn from the flashes and a couple of times I lost track of her completely. The remote flashes were as constant as the lights playing across the band as she tracked every moment of the entire event.
By eleven, I was exhausted. The happy bride and groom exited into their waiting car and the entire wedding party was headed to the after-party event. I load Laura’s car and admire the waterfront at night. It really is beautiful.
We faceplant into bed and complete our whirlwind tour of Baltimore with a trip to Miss Shirley’s. It really is as good as the chef said. Laura has a soft-shelled crab Egg Benedict with Hollandaise sauce and I have a fried green tomato sandwich with runny eggs and bacon. It is perfect. We eat way too much, check out of our hotel and throw ourselves back in the car for the trip home. I’m sore, tired and completely checked out when we arrive home. Laura never hesitates, and begins charging her equipment for the next shoot. I wonder if I can even be a photographer.
So, to all you photographers out there, do what you do, and know that there are very few who can do what you do. My hat is off to you. So is Laura’s.