When I began photographing weddings, I never imagined I would have the profound honor of contributing the gift of my photography to my own father at his wedding. Alas, I can say smilingly, that I have had that very honor. In July of 2010, my father wed his beloved Donna, at the San Luis Country Club, in San Luis Obispo, California, not 30 minutes from my dear hometown of Morro Bay, and I was there to co-create and capture the magic and joy of the day.
Giving the gift of my photography to my father and Donna turned out to be the ultimate gift to me as well. Like many, I have always had a deep-seated yearning to make my father proud, to “show him what I can do”. Photographing his wedding turned out to be an almost mystical adventure into doing just that. In so doing, I was able to show him my skills and passion for my work through the very experience of what I do for my clients all year-round.
Curtis Poppenberg, for all his humor and joy in his day-to-day life (like so many others), is quite challenged to “be himself” and let his guard down in front of the camera–in fact, given to his own devices, he is stiff, unsure of how to be, what to do, and how to entertain a ‘real’ smile upon his face when being photographed. Just as I suspected it would, he provided a perfect (and fierce) challenge to my skills as a director. Having spent years cultivating the very skill of bringing out people’s authentic emotions while I photograph them, I was delighted at how well-prepared I was to create an intimate, emotional, photographic experience for my father and his beloved in a way that allowed for such sweet, real images to be created. I had them laughing, dancing, flirting, and loving, for real, with one another for my camera. Now, they have the images by which to remember it, and to look to, to re-create their love for the rest of their lives together. What a gift (to me, too!).
Dad, Donna, and Katie, I wish you all the blessings of this world in your life together.
What a privilege to see my life’s work show up in my own family. Soon I will have the profound honor of photographing my sister, Bethany’s wedding, with Branden Wilson, a truly great man. Then, next year, I will be getting married. I will not be photographing that wedding, despite a flicker of a wish in the back of my mind that I wish I could.