Photographers have the privilege to be witness to wonderful, beautiful moments in life, such as births; graduations and weddings…Friday April 20th I was working for Linden Hill School, on assignment to document an educational canoe adventure with the Outdoor Leadership Program from Greenfield Community College. I had photographed all the preparations and putting in of canoes up river and wanted a last image of the boys from the French King Bridge - showing the Connecticut River Valley as the backdrop. From the time I got to the center of the bridge I thought it would be 15 or 20 minutes before I saw them floating gracefully underneath. An hour goes by, I need to use the bathroom, and I want another cup of coffee. I don’t see them. I couldn’t have missed them. I wait, I want to leave and come back but I don’t leave. Every time I start back to the car, I don’t make it. I stay. Some feeling I have keeps me there. The picture I want of the boys in not necessary and I have lots of work I need to do. I should leave; clearly this is going to take much longer than I estimated. But I stay; I feel a need to stay.
A few people pass by, walkers and some tourists take a few snapshots. At 10:50am a man approaches me. He is wearing a small purple mum is his jacket pocket. We greet each other and tells me he is getting married today. I say, fantastic! He says, he is getting married right here on the bridge in 10 minutes. I am stunned but excited. Really? Yes, married!
As if the large camera and 200mm lens did not say “professional” I inform him that I am and he asks if I would hold the video camera for them during the ceremony. He came early hoping to find someone to hold it otherwise he was going to hold it himself and try to videotape while getting married.
“Of course,” I said with elation! No sign of the boys in canoes yet.
At 11am, I see the canoes coming around the turn of the river. I estimate they are still 15 minutes from floating under me. I look to my left and there is Don, walking with his fiancé and their officiant and a large dog.
They met online 3 years ago and have been by each other’s side ever since, with the dog!
I am all smiles. I introduce myself to the bride as her wedding photographer, we all laugh. Don hands me a small video camera, shows me the record button and off we go.
Trucks are blowing by, and in the lulls of traffic I am hearing the ceremony. The words are profound and moving. We are all tearing up, me the most! In about 8 minutes they are married. I have panned around, got close for the kiss and made sure I got video from both sides to show their faces. I was so honored and proud to be there for this moment in life.
I asked to make a few photos afterwards and I promise to send them along. They obliged me, not knowing who I was or if I knew how to take photo…
The joy on their faces is all I need to see. I was given a gift today. I documented the marriage of Don and Elizabeth; I was there for the first second of their life together as husband and wife.
The boys in the canoes paddled by a few minutes later and I got the photo. As they waved up to me on the bridge they had no idea what had just happened!