I finally made it to the International Sand Sculpting Festival in Revere a couple weeks ago. Just six miles north of Boston, the event started in 2004 and nearly every year it was noted on my calendar as a must do photo project. I went several days after the primary weekend of the event and we had some rain showers the two days prior to my getting there. As you’ll see, however, most of the works help up beautifully!
An Ode to Rock, Paper, Scissors
Today might have been the 142nd running of the country’s greatest horse race, but the Kentucky Derby women and their stylish hats had nothing on this group of women I came across, last weekend. I arrived at Boston’s Taj hotel to shoot an event when I spotted them finishing up their ‘nice tea’ and asked if I could photograph them. This group of self-described ‘divas’ has met monthly since 1997 partaking in a variety of activities. Some, like this event, have particular themes. I don’t think I have to tell you what that theme was!
I’ve shot nearly 500 weddings, but last week I photographed my first wedding proposal. Dave and Alexandra are from Toronto and were going to be in Boston for Marathon weekend…..a trip she presented him to celebrate his 30th birthday. However, Alexandra didn’t know that Dave had plans to make the weekend much more meaningful. The day before heading to Boston, Dave contacted me to inquire about me photographing the proposal. Never having met and without the ability to rendezvous beforehand, we exchanged pictures of each other, indicated clothing we’d be wearing and even had a James Bond-like signal to, upon first sight, confirm who we were. The plan was to make the proposal in front of the Boston Public Library after they attended a Red Sox-Blue Jays game at Fenway. I waited patiently in the general area trying to blend in with people who were walking by. When I saw a familiar face about 50 feet away, I flashed the designated signal. When he replied in kind, I knew I had my man. Having two cameras with flashes around my neck, I lingered a safe distance away so as not to raise any suspicions on Alexandra’s part. When I saw Dave drop to his knee, I rushed up the library steps to capture what would unfold. It was a complete success (Alexandra did say ‘Yes!’) The love gods must have been looking down on us because two minutes after the proposal a library security guard opened the door to let an employee leave. We informed the guard what had just occurred then asked him if we could come inside to take a few pictures, though the building had been closed hours earlier. To our surprise, he said yes and we had the library’s gorgeous interior to ourselves for about ten minutes. I walk past the library frequently and will always remember those moments when I do so in the future. Dave and Alexandra plan a 2018 wedding. Congratulations!!
Copley Square, Boston
Boston Public Library
Recently, I received a very moving email from Courtney….one of my brides from several years ago. In reading it, I was reminded how these pictures I take can have such a strong impact on peoples’ lives. Here are Courtney’s words.
“Hi Jim…..I can’t believe it’s been more than three years since Andrew and I got married. A lot has happened since then. While I was incredibly fortunate to have three of my grandparents in attendance at our wedding, in the last two years, two of them have passed away. Most recently, we lost my Nana who was the heart and soul of my family. In preparing for services, we started going through pictures so we could make some nice collages to display during visiting hours at the wake. I, of course, started looking through wedding photos. There are so many photos you captured that I am eternally grateful for….moments I forgot happened until I saw the pictures, again.”
“Nana was suffering from Alzheimer’s. It was incredibly important to me for her to be at my wedding. She helped raise me. Recently, she would always ask me when I was getting married. When I told her I was married, she would ask why she wasn’t invited. It broke my heart….not just that she didn’t remember the wedding, but that she would think she wasn’t invited. I made her a wedding album so she could look through it every time she forgot. I printed and framed an 8×10 of this photo and left it on her night stand at her nursing home.”
“The other photo is also a great memory. After seeing that photo, I knew exactly what was happening there. I walked out of the elevator in my wedding dress and Nana said to me “Why are your wearing a white dress?!” My cousin, Rachel, is laughing hysterically in the background. Thanks, again, for doing a phenomenal job, that day, and for creating memories that last a lifetime!……..Sincerely, Courtney”
Experiences like this is why I love what I do.
Every wedding day needs a small crisis so that, after the wedding, you can look back and laugh at it. My bride, Janna, had instructed her dad to remain downstairs until he was called up to see her in her gown. When he suddenly appeared in the forbidden zone, Janna’s bridesmaids rallied into action and successfully obstructed the hanging gown from Dad’s sight.
Sarah and Larry’s wedding ceremony was a quaint one in a small park in Boston’s South End. As they were about to state their vows, something caught my attention. A neighboring resident enjoyed a roof box seat for the event.
Many young girls dream about the day Dad will walk her up the aisle at her wedding. Even though her dad was deceased, Laura was determined to have him there for her wedding. Minutes prior to the start of the wedding ceremony, Laura surprised her mother with her solution.
In a meeting prior to her wedding, last October, I asked Kiara if there were any unique shots that she wanted. Her immediate reply was to stand up and show me the tattoo on her right side. The image below shows the tattoo which represents the chemical formula that is helping her in her fight against cancer. First diagnosed in 2010, Kiara, presently, has stage iv breast cancer that, at times, has traveled to her brain and other parts of her body. However, she’s determined to move forward with her life. A PhD student at Boston College, she’s in her final year of the program….or “Grade 24”, as she puts it. Also, she loves horse-back riding and rock climbing. Using her blog (Google ‘Words From Ward Four’) to update family and friends on her condition, experiences and thoughts related to her illness, she writes very openly and eloquently. While photographing the wedding day, I was truly inspired by her effervescent personality and zest for life. It was a pleasure to be a part of her and her husband Kai’s special day. I wish them many more celebrations.
Update: Sadly, in July of 2016, Kiara lost her battle with cancer….about a year and a half after her wedding. In order to help prevent the extinction of Kiara’s family name of Kharpertian, her husband, Kai, had offered to assume the name on their wedding day.
I had a great time at a different sort of shoot, this weekend! The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, here in Waltham, had a VIP Opening Reception for their new exhibit ‘Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon’. Yolanda, a Boston-area fashion designer and community leader, is also known for her philanthropic works over the past 40 years. Her designs are truly eye-popping. Lady Gaga would be envious!
Even a quick stroll through Boston’s Public Garden can provide some nice images. Recently, I finished with another shoot and walked through the park to get to my car. Along the way, I captured images of little ones dazzled by the creation of balloon sculptures, adults mesmerized by floral designs and children entertained by statues. The Make Way For Ducklings statues were erected in 1987 as a tribute to the widely popular and highly acclaimed children’s book by that name written by Robert McClosky in 1941. It’s the story of two ducks, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, who fly over Boston looking for a place to raise a family. They, eventually, settle on the island in the middle of the lagoon at the Public Garden. On Ducklings Parade Day, children and their parents dress as ducklings and march to the garden along part of the route depicted in the story. On certain holidays, or when the local professional sports teams are in the playoffs, the ducklings are dressed in appropriate attire. It’s said that the statues never need to be professionally polished because children so often sit on Mrs. Mallard, Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack and, of course, Quack!