We all love a good story, right? Well, let’s meet Bethany and John…an amazing couple who are pretty awesome on their own and even more spectacular as a unit.
Let me preface this post by saying that these two are one of my favorite couples ever. Bethany is a producer for CNN and John sells things. Bethany is originally from Rhode Island and John is from Georgia. They actually met while Bethany was producing a story for CNN and John was somehow tied to the story.
Fast forward to our meeting. They were in town and we met for coffee. I loved them right away. Bethany had this fun personality and John spoke with this deep southern accent that had me mesmerized.
At that meeting, we discussed wedding photography and I was convinced I would be shooting the wedding. Then came the surprise. Bethany is total a Type A. Me, not even close. I’m very easygoing, and though I do like to plan, it’s totally OK if things change.
I remember getting an email from Bethany and we ended up talking on the phone. She said she and Mike didn’t like the way I edited the color green, that it was too bright. I laugh now but at the time I was totally taken back as this was the first time I had ever heard someone critique the color of my images, especially a bride-to-be. It bothered her so much she was considering not hiring me for her wedding.
In my mind as a photographer, I was seeing this as a red flag. I mean, if she was that particular about the specific color, what else am I in store for? Mind you, there was no contract signed at this point.
I still really wanted to shoot their wedding, even with this small snag, because they were and are truly amazing. I had a decision to make: Do I pursue the talks of being their wedding photographer or should I cut ties. I ended up having a long discussion with John and we both laid it all on the table. After this conversation, Bethany, John and I were all convinced we had the perfect combination for their wedding.
Now came the engagement shoot. It was a Saturday and they flew in to visit family and for their session. It poured all day. I mean, it was a deluge. Normally if it pours it’s totally cool and you can just reschedule. But with them flying in from Georgia, itwas go time rain or shine.
Is my mind I was freaking out and thinking it was the end of the world. I was worried that she was going to hate the images and that they were going to fire me as their photographer. As I looked out the window and saw this rain, five words came to mind: “I am a dead man.”
As a photographer, you sometimes have to make something out of nothing – pull a bunny out of a hat even when there is no bunny. I was in a tough situation and thought I was toast. My gear is water resistant. Notice I didn’t say waterproof. My flashes are not water anything. I grabbed a few white shopping bags and prepared to have to cover the flashes
as I went for some creative lighting shots. Which brings me to this shot. Now I will admit shooting in the rain can be cool if it’s done right. If you backlight rain and shoot at a fast shutter speed, you can freeze the
rain mid-air and create some dramatic images. The cool thing about Bethany and John was they were totally game for anything. This really eased my nerves. We shot for about an hour until we were all completely drenched. It was toward the end of the session when I really wanted to capture something romantic, almost something out of “The Notebook.” I had John really embrace Bethany and bring her in. I told Bethany just to relax, close her eyes and be natural. I placed the light just behind their heads because I really wanted the flash to bring out the detail of the rain.
They totally help me nail the shot. Bethany absolutely loved the image and she loved the color green :) When it came to the day of the wedding, Bethany and John were perfect. They were such a joy to work with and I would work with them any day of the week. I still keep in touch with them from time to time. Because when people are that awesome, why wouldn’t you?
There is something about the smell of grass when it is freshly cut. It’s almost like the grass is saying, “thank you.” I respond by getting off the lawnmower and kneeling on the ground as I wipe my hands over the grass, as if I am saying, “you’re welcome.” Seriously.
Growing up, my parents were big on landscaping. They passed the bug on to me. My grass today looks like Fenway Park, if I may say. It’s almost a stress relief, that combination of the sound of the mower and the smell of the grass.
One thing I did not expect was my son Bradley loving it as much as I do. He may only be 18 months old, but he’s already mowed the lawn with me numerous times. I remember a few months ago mowing the lawn and he would just stare out the window screaming my name in excitement. He wanted on that lawn mower and he wanted it bad. One day I gave in and placed him on my lap. If heaven came to earth, this was it. He was completely content and happy as we mowed the lawn. It was true bliss.
Mowing the lawn with my son may seem so small. It may seem more of a nuisance. For me, it's not. It's something that I love and look forward to. It's times like these that our relationship gets deeper. It's these times where moments and memories are made.
Amanda is a beautiful girl, she has the sweetest heart, but like most, she is self-conscious about her looks. As a photographer, I couldn’t see what she sees. I could only see a beautiful girl with a great smile. I see a girl with beautiful brown eyes and a personality that could melt snow on the coldest of days. I also see Isiah, who absolutely loves Amanda. Everything Amanda sees as flaws, Isiah sees as beautiful.
Amanda and Isiah showed up to the shoot. It was a beautiful day in Newport, Rhode Island. Amanda was nervous. She was honestly scared of being in front of the camera. What am I to do as a photographer? How can you make someone feel beautiful if they don’t see themselves as beautiful? I needed to gain her trust and make sure she knew I understood her concerns and I was going to pose her in a flattering way and make her smile.
We spent almost three hours shooting around Newport. As the shoot progressed, I started to see something I wasn’t necessarily expecting because I was so focused on making Amanda comfortable. I started to see this deep bold and intimate love between Amanda and Isiah. It was so beautiful and inspiring watching it play out from behind the camera. It was the way they held each other and the way they talked to each other. It was truly amazing and beautiful.
As we came to the end of the shoot, we went to Ocean Drive in Newport. They quickly changed into different outfits. I wanted to create something that really matched what I saw in them. I wanted to show the world the deep love they share, the rooted love and innocent love at the same time.
As I put Amanda and Isiah in place, I told Isiah take Amanda’s face with his hands and bring her in. “Enjoy this moment and kiss her on the forehead,” I said.
Before I even took the image, I knew this shot was going to be amazing. As I took, the photograph I looked at the back of the camera and I knew I’d captured the true Isiah and Amanda. I captured that bold and intimate love they so deeply share. The following is the text I received from Amanda the next morning.
“Hey Mike, thanks so much again for coming out and taking our pictures! We truly appreciate it! It's also a very helpful lesson for me in self-love. So thank you for dealing with that too! I fell more in love with Isiah yesterday during your photo shoot, so that was worth everything!
Have a great day!”
This right here is a story that I couldn't write or make up. This is a story of true love. Love that is deep bold and intimate. This is Amanda and Isiah.
1. I never wanted to be a photographer. Originally I wanted to be a youth pastor and eventually a pastor. God had other plans. Thank Him for that!
2. My very first venture into photography was with landscapes. I was all into this artsty-fartsy stuff. So much so that my first website was sincerelypoetic.com. Lol…I’m serious
3. I love marriage. Being married is a privilege, not a right. It’s a privilege that I hold near and dear to my heart.
4. I almost quit wedding photography a bazillion times. Let’s face it, owning your own business is hard work. It’s stressful and at times can be a nightmare. I remember being on the edge many times and ready to quit. Quitting seemed like the easiest decision at the time. The reason I didn’t quit is because I 100 percent feel called to do this. As I look back at my images, I see such growth that I would not have experienced if I’d quit.
5. I met my wife April online. We joke that it was love at first click. OK, I joke around and say that because I’m totally cheesy and “Bad Jokes” is my middle name.
6. My wife had my daughter’s name picked out since she was in the 3rd grade. She always wanted a Leah.
7. I still have my first sample album I made to show clients, pink pages and all. My wife makes me keep it because she says it shows how far I have come.
8. My first job was as a golf caddie when I was 12. It was at the Warwick Country Club in Warwick, Rhode Island. I actually shoot weddings there from time to time.
9. I’m a morning person. I get out of bed with energy and the radio blaring. April? Not so much.
10. So you know I met April online. It was October 2010. We were engaged on Feb. 14, 2011.
I am by no means the master when it comes to marriage. I have been wrong or twice:) I have seen some great things come from marriage and some things that are just heartbreaking.
Being a wedding photographer, I am always tempted to give advice on how to avoid this or that, but I get too scared and I don’t. Well, today is the day!April and I went through a time, as you will too. You will see something is off. It will be right after the honeymoon phase. Little things will start to annoy you. Maybe it’s the way he chews his gum, the way she corrects you on everything. Reality is going to hit in your marriage.
There’s a book I highly recommend (link below). It’s called “What Did You Expect?” by Paul Tripp. The idea of the book is that we often go into marriage with preconceived ideas. These ideas usually resemble a fairytale. For example: • I love my husband so much because he is so thoughtful and remembers everything. • Or, my wife will cook seven days a week and clean the house five days a week. News flash: This past April 26, I rolled out of bed and it took me three hours and a Facebook post to remind me that it was my wife’s birthday. My forgetfulness gave her a heavy dose of reality.
My wife doesn’t cook seven days a week, and my generally clean house sometimes it looks like a tornado went through it. These small things can slowly break the foundation of a marriage if you let them.Tripp breaks it all down better in his book than I could ever explain it. Check out his book to really see marriage put into perspective: