Trash the Dress Photo Shoot
If you’ve been a photographer for any length of time its inevitable. At some point, no matter what your speciality, you will be asked to photograph a wedding. I shot a few early in my career but now I refer them to photographers who specialize in them.
Never Say Never:
I received a call from my friend Pete who lives in Maine. He said his niece, Libby, was getting married and asked if I’d photograph her wedding. The ceremony and reception would be held at his mother’s home which is situated along the Kennebec River.
My ties to that place run deep. I have been their guest many times over the years. I agreed to do it as repayment for their past generosity plus I could take a few extra days and make it a vacation. I swung by Providence on the way up to picked up my son Wynn to share the experience and to assist me during the wedding.
It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony and the reception was held under a large tent by the river. The people, the location, the weather, the music, the food, everything was wonderful. It was the most enjoyable wedding I have ever attended, let alone photographed.
Toward the end of the reception, Wynn jokingly asked Libby if she wanted to do a “Trash the Dress” shoot. Libby and her new husband Andrew talked it over and said yes! They thought it would be fun to go to the island and jump off the cliff into the river.
The plan was for me to photograph the lover’s leap from a canoe. Wynn would paddle in the front, Libby’s Uncle Nick would paddle from the back, I’d sit in the middle and shoot.
The Kennebec is a tidal river, only placid for a short time at high and low tide. By the time everyone was ready low tide was long gone and it would be several hours until high tide. We would now be fighting some very strong currents. So strong in fact, that you needed to paddle upstream as hard as you could to counteract the current carrying you downstream. If you miscalculated the trajectory you could end up below and on the wrong side of the island.
My crew paddled to the Island first so I could photograph the newlywed’s as they made their way across. Libby was no stranger to the river and knew just what she was doing. Andrew, on the other hand, just had to have faith in Libby and keep paddling.
Might as Well Jump
Everyone got to the island without incident and we made our way to the top of the cliff. Andrew hung a Just Married sign then stripped down to his birthday suit but as the song goes, he did leave his hat on. Wynn, Nick and I made our way back our canoe as Libby and Andrew positioned themselves on the edge of the cliff contemplating what they were about to do.
The couple held hands, counted to three then jumped. I was able to fire off ten frames before they hit the water. Both made it back to the island safely.
A Word of Caution
Scenarios such as this can put you or your subjects in jeopardy. Weight the risks and take all necessary precautions. In this case I had every confidence in the couple and in our crew. My confidence was not misplaced.