One of the things I have always offered my clients is free family sessions for life after I shoot their wedding. I love to see their families grow and prosper after the big day has passed. Needless to say I was thrilled to get a call from Alexia telling me about their new baby, Vincent. There is just something so special about a new baby during the holiday season. It makes us all remember how wonderful being a child was. Vincent did not shy away once the Santa suit went on. Here’s a few of his many faces. Happy Holidays friends.
About a year ago around this time I was being released from the hospital after being bitten by a timber rattlesnake on my left leg. People have asked me to tell the story over and over but I really haven’t thought much about it. They have lots of questions when they meet a real snakebite victim. I’m going to briefly summarize here because I am thankful to be alive and it’s Thanksgiving. We all need to give thanks.
The snake was under a log and I made a big mistake and violated one of my top 3 rules when hiking. Never step over anything in the woods. Always go around it. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Moving on now. I stepped over and the snake bit me on the left ankle area. Now, let me point out that I have worked with snakes for years and am considered an expert on venoms and venomous reptiles. I am also a paramedic so I pretty much knew what had just happened. I leaped forward away from the log and fell on the ground. I could now see that I was about 10 feet from the log and felt safe enough to have a look. Yep, there it was. Two perfect, little puncture wounds oozing a drop of blood and yellowish venom. But, now even seconds later the venom was already at work on my body. Even though all anti venom is the same now in North America I still wanted to know what bit me. I found a good sized stick and used it as a cane to hobble back to the log. I raked some leaves back to see the black face of a 3ft timber rattler staring back at me as if to say “back for more” but I wasn’t. I knew I needed help fast because an envenomation can go from bad to worse in a hurry.
Now, I used my stick to help me get about 25 feet back to the main trail where I began to feel very sick at my stomach. I was having trouble breathing so I administered a shot of epinephrine to my arm to help with that part. Yes, I really do carry that stuff in my pack. My car wasn’t far away but I didn’t see how I could make it. And, out of the blue an angel appeared in spandex on a mountain bike. I wouldn’t normally describe a guy that way but I was happy to see somebody. He stopped and said you don’t look very well. All I could get out was “SNAKE”. He asked if I had seen a snake and I chuckled inside. Once again I was able to mumble “rattlesnake bite”. I pulled my pant leg up and he looked terrified.
He told me to sit tight and said he would go find help. Fast forward a little. A few minutes later an SUV pulled up a few yards away and I was helped in. The lady driving was a nurse and she was doing some volunteer work that day along with 3 friends on the mountain. None had seen a snakebite victim before and they talked about how sick I looked. The nurse told me to tell her what to do just in case I went out all the way and I did…… I think. By now I was throwing up, sweating beyond belief and drifting in and out of consciousness. They had already called 911 and an ambulance was on the way.
We met the ambulance at the bottom of the mountain and a paramedic friend of mine jumped out and asked what I wanted her to do. After a quick discussion we decided against a helicopter and went for emergency transport to the trauma center. That was all I remembered during that 20 mile drive. I was in and out of consciousness again in the ER and my leg was 3 times the normal size. I spent 4 days in intensive care and 12 more on crutches. It took me 3 months to get back to normal. The pain was simply unreal and I will not take nature, life or help from strangers lightly again.
One final note here. A few months ago I was walking through my local Lowes store and I heard someone say “excuse me sir”. I turned and a man was walking toward me with a big smile on his face. He said “Are you Michael Wade”? Of course I said yes and asked why. He gave me his name and said I’m the mountain biker who helped you the day you were bitten. We talked, I shook his hand and thanked him over and over. He was very humble and said that I would have done the same for him. And, he’s right. I would. I certainly would.
Yesterday was my 45th birthday and I can’t imagine a better way to spend at least part of the day than doing what I love to do. So I met up with Tara and Austin to shoot some engagement photos. We had a blast as we went from one antique shop to another in downtown Kingsport’s Broad Street section. Then we went out to South Holston Mountain where we found brilliant color and snow capped peaks. It was chilly but photos like these are sure to warm the warm the heart. Think I saw that on a greeting card once but in case I didn’t I’m putting a copyright on it right now. Enjoy y’all.
Sometimes when we have a problem we can’t always find the right solution. For instance, after being diagnosed with MS I started to notice the extreme pain my camera caused by placing weight from the strap on my neck and shoulder. But, with all straps having the same, outdated engineering and hooking from the sides there didn’t seem to be an option. And then waaaa laaaaaa Black Rapid created a strap that attaches to the bottom of my camera and transfers the weight down my side. It works like a dream and my bones appreciate it. Try one and you’ll be buying one for every camera.
A couple of years ago I was so sick of all of the online gallery services. The fees were outrageous and you didn’t seem to get much unless you were in the popularity contest. After an extensive search I found Zenfolio. I have never looked back and certainly thought of changing. It seems that each time I log on they have added something that helps my business at no cost to me. All I can say is try them and you’ll see what I have seen.
Most all people enjoy seeing tigers. They are large, powerful and beautiful creatures. But, before they get to be that big they are cubs and cubs are like puppies. They like to wrestle, tug, chew, play rough and investigate everything. That’s what we got out of Apollo this morning at Creation Kingdom Zoo. He’s a baby Bengal Tiger and full of life. Model Christina Shockley had never worked with an animal like this in a shoot so we got a kick out of watching her reactions to Apollo as he set up his attacks on her. He’s harmless but hilarious. Some of the photos here are just to show how hard it is to control a shoot with a 60 pound tiger cub. Tricia’s by Design let us borrow a beautiful gown for the session. My wife, Cindy who is a cat lover even jumped in on a shot or two. It was a really fun shoot.
It was a fun day along the Sligo Creek trail near Silver Spring as Sierra and I hiked the trail to photograph this couple. We spotted some black squirrels and these two lovebirds. Ok, that was bad even for me. But, hey the photos worked out good. Here’s a sample as we head toward the wedding next April.
Client Comment: “They are GORGEOUS! “
Sierra and I had a good time traveling to Silver Spring for the 2 day wedding event of Kristen and Aamir over the weekend. Friday night was a traditional Pakistani wedding and Saturday we had the American version. Both were fun and it was great to see family and friends from both cultures support each other and join in. On Friday we worked with them at the Hilton in Silver Spring and on Saturday we moved up the street to Mrs. K’s Tollhouse. This place is very unique and features indoor/outdoor dining plus a large botanical garden area. I can’t say enough good things about it really. Good luck to our friends Kristen and Aamir and thank you to them and their friends and family from across the world who came to be with them.
Email from Client:
These photos are great, thanks for sending the link to your blog! Thank you so much for everything, and we cant wait to see the rest!
Aamir & Kristen
I had a great time last night with Kayla, Wes and their families at a unique venue called Kaycliff. While the weather decided to turn cool on their chosen day it didn’t stop anything from going off perfectly. The family rented some outdoor propane heaters to allow guest to remain warm and Kayla to have her outdoor dream ceremony. It was perfect. This just goes to show how having supportive family and friends can make your wedding day a good one. Many people wouldn’t come out and sit outdoors for a cool Fall evening to watch a wedding ceremony. But, this couple’s bunch did and that says a lot. And, last but not least please note Kayla’s sexy, red shoes. Custom made by Tricia’s by Design.
We could sugar coat this and make it sound as if nobody ever gets divorced and life is perfect in marriage but that as we all know isn’t true. People do get divorced and because they do we often end up with a mixed bag of step-parents, siblings and so forth at weddings. Many times the bride and groom will both have parents who are divorced and each now has an extended family on both sides. As you can see already it can be confusing for anyone, but especially the wedding photographer. When a bride says “get a shot of my brother” the photographer may be clueless as to which brother or even which person is a brother.
Often brides will hand me a list that they have carefully thought out and typed up. They are shocked many times when I tell them the list won’t help me at all. It may say something like pre wedding photos of Lisa with John and Sally. But, more often than not the photographer has not met John or Sally and has no idea who they are. Now, multiply that times 50 formal shots and you don’t have a shot list, you have recipe for disaster. The solution to this is simple. Appoint someone who has a good knowledge of the entire family to help gather them for shots. The photographer can pose them and do the shots while your helper is rounding them up.
And, lets also note that people don’t usually get divorced because they like each other. I have shot many weddings where I was pretty sure a mother might pull out an AK47 assault rifle and try to gun down dad and the step-mom. Most people hold their feelings in on such a special day but some people can’t behave and they don’t. Just remember that while it may be your wedding you don’t want to put people in uncomfortable positions by “making” them have a photo with someone they don’t want to be around. A wedding day is emotional and while you may be so happy you could just pop there are probably others at your wedding who have a million thoughts going through their head about the”how” and “why” things didn’t work for them. Show them that you respect that and they will be more apt to respect you.
No less than 3 times per week I get asked by potential clients why there are so many wedding photographers. They often complain about how hard it is to choose one from a sea that is over flowing. I agree 100% with you friends. Now, I’m going to tell you why there are so many.
You do not have to have a formal education or even training to be a “photographer”. You don’t even have to have a license of any kind. All you need is a business license (many skip that part) and some cameras. They don’t even have to be good cameras. So, in essence all it takes to be a wedding photographer is “nothing”. When digital cameras hit it gave people a chance to do something they could not do before. They can now look at every photo on the back of the camera (professionals call it chimping as they look and go ooo, ooo,ooooh) and see if it worked. If it didn’t just take enough and some surely will work. And, praise Photoshop if it doesn’t work you can fix it within a few hours. What kind of skill or equipment do you need to pose as a wedding photographer? Anything you can sell someone on. And, there are lost of people who are good on sales and poor on talent.
You see, there are not that many professional wedding photographers. There are just lots of people who want to be one without paying any dues. If you quizzed them on proper lighting or shutter speeds or anything else they wouldn’t have a clue. To them the little green camera that puts the device in auto mode is all they need because it’s all they know. These people never took a class, never interned with anyone or read a book about photography. The first thing they thought of was “easy money” and getting business cards. Would you go to a surgeon who had a scalpel but no training? I don’t think so.
But, to save a few dollars clients choose these photographers on a regular basis. The result is the same as going to that doctor with no traning. You could end up sick for the rest of your life. On your wedding day you have one chance to get it right and if you don’t it’s gone forever.
Good wedding photographers who really do know how and what to do are not in abundant supply. So, as you consider a photographer remember that not one qualified photographer is sitting there praying you’ll book them. They know that just like every year they will have a full schedule. Hopefully you’ll make a wise decision and be part of it.