Sunday, February 18, 2007

fun with strangers

I am sitting on the patio. Listening to the patter of remnants from a winter rain and looking out into the orange-violet glow that is the closest thing to night we have in Southern California. And in between blankets of smoke from a well-aged Brazilian blend cigar, I am trying to find some part of me that doesn't hurt.

Nope, it pretty much all hurts.

You see, this weekend I found myself doing that which I had vowed I would never do again - wedding photography. I like taking pictures of flowers and mountains and rock formations and abandoned buildings and random abstracty things that people always ask, "what is that a picture of?" and I tell you that it doesn't matter what it's a picture of because it's abstract and open to interpretation but you keep asking me and finally I tell you it's a lamp and you don't believe me and then I show you the lamp and then you feel stupid because you thought it was a bowling ball.

This is great because no money changes hands and no one ever has to see them. If they suck they get stuffed into a drawer for all eternity and if they're good I post them on the blog and some people like them and some people insinuate that since I take pictures of flowers I must be gay and that's very rude because my mom reads this blog.

But wedding photography is a different beast. Significant amounts of money change hands. And you have to do more than show them to people, you have to give them to people. Which is hard, because my pictures are my childrens. And like my own childrens, even if they have to live in a drawer because they are ugly and deformed, I still love them.

And it is stressful and exhausting. My camera rig weighs about 12 pounds (a 1Ds Mark II, a 70-200/2.8 L IS, a 24-70/2.8 L and a 580EX). 12 pounds is not very heavy, you say. I say, this is true, until you take some 12 pound object, strap it around your neck and run around frantically with it for 10 hours. I don't care how much you work out - you're gonna feel that the next day.

And then I played some Wii Boxing today. That didn't help.

So this weekend marked the third time that Elise has managed to rope me into a paid photography gig for which I am grossly unqualified. She does this by means of what I think she perceives to be a preternatural gift of persuasion, but is actually just harassment. Even if I don't want to do it, at least if I do it, she'll shut up about it.

I didn't want to do it at all. So I figured out the politest way possible to decline her brother's vicarious pleas for a last-minute wedding photographer. I quoted a price that I thought would be reasonable - for hiring Annie Leibovitz or the reanimated corpse of Ansel Adams. But a bit steep to hire someone who isn't actually a photographer.

Needless to say, this did not work. So this weekend I hauled 4 bags of gear out to Rancho Palos Verdes and shot 1200 photos of people I don't know. And despite the stress and perpetual panic and my current desire to have my back amputated, it was good times.

I am now of the opinion that if you want to have good wedding photos, you have to provide liquor. This is especially true for the reception. All it takes is a complimentary house merlot, a cash bar, and an hour and half to turn a room full of strangers into a conga line. But the reception photos I took should be particularly interesting because I drank quite a bit of punch.

Was the punch spiked, Hoov?

Nuh-no. Worse It was red. The Hoov and red food coloring (especially Red #40) don't mix. Or maybe they mix a little too well. I had forgotten this, and I drank genovious amounts of red punch, because punch is delightful, is it not?

You see, I'm allergic to red food coloring. It makes me hyper. I haven't consumed red beverage in any appreciable quantity since that fateful night at 2515 in summer of '03. The Kim will attest to what happens when I shotgun two Big Reds. It's not pretty. I turn into Hammy from Over the Hedge. It may have involved back flips.

And it may have at the reception as well. I'm not really remembering much of it. All I know is, I woke up this morning feeling like I got trampled in a stampede of unicorns.

But leave it to Seth to put things in perspective for me:

"Hoov! Did you meet any chicks last night?"

"No. I was working. Although I vaguely recall one girl asking me to dance."

"You couldn't put down the camera for once dance?"

"Well, I'm pretty sure she was in high school. And they were playing Fergalicious. Nothing good can come from that."

"What's wrong with you? You turned down a girl for a dance?"

"She didn't really ask me to dance."

"What did she say?"

"She said, 'When are you going to stop taking pictures and dance?' ."

"Hoov - you know what you should do?"


"Stop being a big wuss."

No. Never. Now if you don't mind, my spine and I would like to go back to taking pictures of flowers.