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Ring Pic’s

This weekend I am photographing a wedding. It will be the first wedding I have done in about 5 years. In all honesty, I don’t really have much of a desire to be a ‘Wedding Photographer’ despite the lure of it being a very lucrative trade. The ones I have done in the past have all been very unique (wheat farm in Idaho, middle of January in a Tepee, for instance) and I find most brides are drawn to the flow of trends in the wedding industry to which the photography business constantly rides. I just don’t see myself as that willing to ride those waves, market myself in that way, become a full-service photographer or be at a point in life where I am willing to commit nearly every Saturday night for half the year. However, I do love weddings. I love the details and thought and design that goes into the event. So I am willing to take on a few here and there. The biggest hurdle has been acquiring the mass of gear I wouldn’t normally have a huge need for. The past few weeks I’ve had a steady stream of packages arriving at my doorstep. We’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to borrow a good amount as well.

My favorite part of being hired as a photographer is that it’s all about the moment. With weddings, as well as kids, it’s often a matter of anticipating what could happen next, training my shutter finger to hit the button at jut the right moment. Good photographers know what could happen next, and they’re ready to capture it. I am way more effective at that when I know the in’s and out’s of my gear, exactly how, where and when each tool will be the most effective. With new gear, that means I have been working overtime with the unfamiliar until they become familiar in the most extreme situations. I have shot outdoors, at night, to push a Vibration Reduction lens to the far end of it’s capabilities to best understand it’s performance. I also took some time to work on some extreme close ups, in this case, my wedding ring, to gain comfort with a lens I haven’t shot with before.


And this all got me thinking about my ring. An object that has been nearly continuously a part of my person for 6 1/2 years. It’s a symbolic extension of myself that speaks on so many different levels to who I am and what I am about. I can pretty much guarantee that at some point, someone is going to ask to see your wedding ring, though I used to think it was so gauche- like they were just sizing up the rock or something. I understand now that it’s really more about how their rings exemplify their expression of what’s unique and personal. More and more I love seeing wedding rings because I just love how the design is inextricably tied to the story of those people’s relationship. For us it was one of those little things that we chose to really customize in representation of who we are and what we value- like a little symbolic gift I wear every day. It has a story, a history and a meaning we very purposefully encapsulated when we designed our rings. Yes, I did say we designed our rings. It was by far the best thing we did for our wedding, the most enduring item we walked away from that day with.

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I try shoot detail shots and pair rings up with things that really represent the uniqueness of the wedding and the personalities of the Bride & Groom. So, during my ‘Practice’ time, I thought it be fitting to pair my ring (test subject) with an old vintage Brownie camera.  dedicated to wedding ring awesomeness. I think we were some of the only people I knew for a long time who actually designed thier own rings. We have told many friends getting ready to propose to just by the stone, pop the question with that, then go customize the setting with the gal because desiging our own rings was the best experience. No one (so far) has taken our advice on that. Of course, as a designer and seeing some of the unique rings out there now that ‘Custom’ and ‘Unique’ are trendy, totally makes me want to design another ring for myself, maybe for our 10th anniversary!!


I am really stoked too that the Bride for this upcoming wedding is really into the small details of her big day. Her flowers are custom blown glass; she made her own veil; her shoes are said to be ‘fabulous’. I can’t wait. Those kinds of details, the ones so chalked full of meaning, are the best.



As for my ring- the stones were from a wedding and engagement set which belonged to Matt’s Great-Aunt Fanny. When they were given to us during our engagement, they came with the original purple velvet box they were purchased in from Chicago in the 1920′s.Unfortunately, as she aged, Aunt Fanny had the bands expanded to the point they were too thin to re-size back down without having to completely reconstruct the entire gold ring, fittings and all. That’s when we chose to reset the stones, designing for ourselves rings more suited to who we were as a couple. The process was amazing, to whittle down as designers what we were about, how we viewed our upcoming marriage. The rings appear to have two overlapping bands. In reality, they entwine only in the front, so a continuous mobius strip of sorts is created. It symbolizes two lives fused into one, a continuous unbroken circle of our marriage. My ring has the center stone from the engagement ring and the 6 medium stones from the wedding band; Matt’s is exactly the same but with 10 tiny diamonds alined along his. We designed them digitally, then brought print-outs around to every jeweler in San Luis Obispo to get price quotes. Finally we really synced with a jeweler, who for a really awesome price, made wax molds and cast these for us. I absolutely love our rings and wouldn’t trade them for anything. I even think through the event of me ever getting mugged and how I could twist the ring around so it would only look like a plain silver band. I plan to continue to hand them down in hopes the next wearer will also customize a setting around these generational stones.

And the camera- I got this vintage Brownie from a college Professor, an older gentleman who lived in a historic house in downtown San Luis Obispo which was moved several blocks when the highway was built through what used to be the China Town area. This house was a Chinese Brothell. The camera is still in working condition, I have put several rolls of film through it. When I got it out I was hoping to load it up with some old expired 120 film we have in our fridge. However, the reels on modern medium format film are slightly larger than when this model was made, so the film doesn’t advance very well. I was unable to find older reels to re-spool a new roll onto and unable to find our light-proof black bag to do it in (to prevent exposure). However, Araiya has enjoyed using this camera to pretend to take pictures. I hope for her one day (when she’s a bit older and can learn to do the whole film development process herself) to really be able to take pictures with this camera.


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