Unless something has happened to Drew’s camera since we parted on Sunday evening, or unless a rare technological malaise called “Pixel Perturbance” occurs, which causes the pixels that make up a photo to spontaneously rearrange themselves into images of kittens or puppies, our engagement photos are going to be really good. Like: REALLY good. Really.
Yes, I know, that sounds forward. Arrogant. Peremptory, even; practically supercilious. But stand back, yo – I’m not trying to toot my own horn, nor even make others aware of the presence of my horn as something I might ever consider tooting in the future. So please stop talking about my horn because I’m a little bit self-conscious about it.
This thing we do, these engagement photos, are the latest – and among the earliest – of a series of trials. Trials that test the endurance of two people, their continuing ability to self-promote and enlist the help of others, and deign to suggest that a party they are throwing, for themselves and their hand-picked guests, is important enough to warrant 14 months of preparation, thousands of dollars, hundreds of man-hours of work, contributing cooks, a blog, research, anxiety, stress, cross-country flights for out-of-towners, a presidential radio address, announcements in 35 of the world’s 46 most prestigious dailies, a commemorative statue outside City Hall, and a big cake.
But that’s cynical, and I know that. That’s the bare, unromantic sludge that lines the bottom of the rain pipe of weddings. Weddings are celebrations of love, of life, of friendship, of family, and of togetherness. They really are, when done right – they can feel like 8 hours of thanksgiving. Weddings are meaningful and important to people, they are rooted in tradition but continually open to innovations in style and technology and thought, and they represent more than a long and expensive soirée. Far more.
And it’s for those reasons that I can picture myself and Jessica slowly, bumpily, and gradually easing our way into the spotlight. The kicker here, of course, is that it’s a spotlight that we paid $10,000 to have installed above ourselves, and for the salary of a lighting specialist who follows us everywhere we go for 14 months, shining down upon us, screaming “Look at these two, everyone! They’re what’s hip! They’re not to be ignored! And look how pretty Jessica is!*”
*[The lighting specialist is a really big fan of Jessica’s].
But: there’s a certain joy to it, too. I mean, there are reasons people are vain and narcissistic – you get to believe you are God’s gift to Man (which was a totally sweet Blu-Ray player last Christmas; God gives nice gifts) and fawn over your own appearance and social capital. But this is the one time we’ll do this, the one time in our lives we will plan a months-long celebration of ourselves and our lives and those in it, and we should grab the opportunities to enjoy it and to bask in it.
I experienced the following progression in my head over the few hours following the shoot:
“Man, that was really fun. I bet we got some good photos.”
“I bet we looked really good, too. I feel like we totally did.”
“Those clothes we picked out I think were pretty perfect, honestly, among the choices we had. Deciding on one outfit each was absolutely the right call, and limiting the numbers of locations was also really helpful.”
“Dang. Jessica looks beautiful.”
“I mean, I really feel like everything went extremely well. The timing worked, people had fun, we looked really good, we ate sandwiches and Mexican food, we saw an incredibly beautiful sunset over the whole bay, and we got to ride small trains that run on steam and childrens’ dreams through the Berkeley Hills.”
“Not only is Drew a great photographer on his own, but he was assisted by Andrew, who brought a really fantastic aesthetic and directorial vision to the shots, and held the bounce the entire afternoon, bouncing sunlight on us and suggesting poses and advice; they worked extremely well as a team.”
Then we scrolled through the photos on the small screen of Drew’s Canon, gasping with glee, squealing with delight, and it was confirmed.
They’re great photos. They’re simple, there’s a great sunset in the back, and we look nice. There’s a steam train. Greg told inappropriate jokes and gave me 49ers updates. We spent time with good friends and good food. We were all on the same page. The weather was stunning, as if the sky were saying, “here’s a day of summer I kept in my back pocket for an occasion like this.”
It was great. Engagement is feeling fun again.