I think Yosemite Sam can sum up how I felt about photographing Jennifer and Matthew’s wedding in the Yosemite Valley. Guns in the air, “pew, pew….pew, pew pew!”. It felt like fireworks.
Yosemite has always been one of my most favorite places in the world. Better than Angkor Wat in Cambodia, better than the Rock Hewn Church’s in Lalibella, better than the Louvre in Paris. As Matthew put it, “this….this is Mecca”. I just remember the first time I arrived in Yosemite. It was in the 8th grade. I was an acne sporting, husky pre-teen. At the time I was living in Northern California, new to the area by way of New Orleans, LA. Up to that point in my life, I’ve yet to see snow or really a mountain. As the bus rolled past the gates and descended into the valley, my face was pressed hard against that rickety bus’ window, I was simply amazed. I turned off my Father MC tape and just stared. The grandeur of it all was simply amazing.
Imagine my absolute excitement when I paired up with Jennifer and Matthew to photograph their wedding in Yosemite. Matthew and Jennifer being rock climbers, I knew they shared my excitement. A couple days before, preparring for the trip the weather foretasted was rain. Insert anguishing, fist shaking to the sky emoticon here. I couldn’t believe it. Really, rain on this weekend of all weekends? I thought California was in a drought?! Still…I knew it was going to be ok because these cats were willing to do whatever and if I had to work in a downpour to make one of my dreams come true then so be it.
The day finally arrives, boarding pass printed, gear packed, flip flops on, sunglasses attached to the old face. It was go time. A short flight later I was in my old stomping grounds. Driving the insanely small rental car down I5 brought back a flood of memories from my youth. Seriously though…..I’ve never driven a smart car but my luggage barely fit in this thing and I felt extremely European. I could open the opposite back door by reaching from the driver seat. Crazy. Four and a half hours later, I reached it, I arrived in Mecca. The thing about Yosemite to me is that it seems eternal. Millions of people visit there every year but it doesn’t change. El Capitan is still big and ominous and dignified, Half Dome is still half, Yosemite Falls is still falling. I loved it. After driving around getting a refresher on where everything was, touring the Awhanee Hotel I made it back to my hotel room. It was like the first day of school, I had all my clothes laid out and ready to go, alarm was set, pillow fluffed. 8 longest hours ever. Then there I was, eating a quick breakfast at the spectacular Awhanee Hotel, scouring over maps as if I was a photographic Indiana Jones. Scribbling, and scribbling and arrows (so many arrows) all over that Yosemite visitors map. After my masterplan was complete it was time to go to Jennifer’s room to reveal Master Plan Supreme Yosemite Delta Bravo Sector 9.6 A Division….list…plan.
In a midst of dresses, hair products and a Mad Men episode, I found a happy Jennifer. Getting ready, a slight buzz in the air, it was a great time. I always enjoy this time. Not only am I getting prepared but there’s also a crescendo building and this moment is where it starts. Knocking on doors, people going in and out and introductions were happening left and right. The right people were in the room, maid of honor and sister and helpful sister’s friend all getting ready while helping each other get ready. It was fun seeing this seemingly chaotic well oiled machine work together. Peeking in on the guys, the mood was the same but opposite. Matthew already dressed, calmly conversing with some friends about who went climbing, hikes that were taken and the plans for the day after. I will say though, that Chuck’s are my favorite wedding shoe, hands down. Click, click and it was off to Jennifer’s room again to photograph the dress, her super cute (yeah I said it, SUPER CUTE) shoes and the ring. Moments down the road it was time to go down and get set up for the ceremony.
Dude…..did I mention before that I love Yosemite? Yeah…the weather, which was supposed to be rainy was definitely not. Blue skies with white puffy clouds and the valley….it was breath taking. They picked the perfect spot in the grass with the grandeur of the valley stretching for miles behind them. At times like these, it’s not a job…it simply is not, it is a privilege. Close family and friends joined in their matrimony and it was glorious. After the “I Dos” where said and some photos of the family and bridal party were taken, it was time for a little fiesta. I likened the reception to the likes of Spud Webb or Mugsy Bouges. It was small and intimate, sure, but boy did it pack a big punch. These cats know how to party and much respect to Jennifer and Matthew’s Taiwan friends. They kept it popping all day especially my man Victor C. I don’t know what they served for dinner but it was definitely working. Now having an early wedding and reception definitely has it’s advantages especially in a place like this.
After the festivities and a little rest, Matthew, Jennifer and I decided to execute the Master Plan Orange Sicle 7 Niner V.9…list….plan. Please note, the names of stops have been changed because if you want to know the places you should just let me photograph your wedding there. First stop Funnel View where you are presented with a gift to the eye balls from Mother Nature. It is truly spectacular. Even though there was a ton of people there, it didn’t matter to the couple, they just acted like they were alone. After that, we went back down to the valley floor and made stops at Singing Bridge, Bentinel Bridge and Glower Pines. Again, in times like these it’s not a job it’s a privilege. We ended our long John Muir like journey back at the Ahwanee where a couple more photos were to be taken. This was definitely a day to remember and I have to thank Matthew and Jennifer for putting up with my ideas and allowing me to live out my dream.
There were times where I questioned how this could be my life…really, how can be? This is one for the record books, these are the days that we live for.
From the couple:
“It has been an absolutely great experience. Powers has been extremely helpful and informative in how their process works and giving us general wedding planning advice. It has been greatly appreciated. And everyone that we have interacted with has been extremely helpful and a joy to work with.
We loved our photographer! He was wonderful. Knew exactly what we wanted and asked all the right questions to get us the photos we wanted and the feel we wanted.
He was just very aware of what we wanted in our photos and gave a lot of great feedback and suggestions that we loved. And we really appreciated that he traveled so far for our wedding as well.”
Wedding at Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite, CA