Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Here comes the bride

I have something to cross off my bucket list.

I have now been hired (yes, for cash dollars) to be an additional shooter at a wedding where I knew nobody.

Ok, not totally true.  The bride reads my blog.  So I sort of knew her.

I was worried that I'd be all awkward, not knowing a SOUL, and that I'd get in the way, and that the real photographers would resent me, or I'd make some horrible gaffe, or I'd show up at the WRONG LOCATION! (why yes, I had a dream about that, and it stunk)

But the day was fabulous.

Kelly and I left straight after church, heading south by way of Starbucks to fortify ourselves for the drive.  I was worried about the traffic, seeing as it was early Sunday afternoon, and we were driving down the ONE highway to Santa Cruz, which is where everyone AND THEIR DOG goes on the weekend, and the highway can be a veritable parking lot.  Yeah.   A little bit of stinky sweat in the armpits over that drive, but it was pretty painless.

We got to the venue early.  Early enough for me to go into the restroom, and fix my armpits.  Aren't you glad I shared?

Early enough to sit out on the patio and watch the funky 60s folksy trio playing for the brunch crowd.

Early enough to decide that we could probably have those garlic fries, and still have enough time for the cinnamon gum to make the bad breath smell vanish before any close-up work happened.

Kelly waits for the garlic fries on the patio.

We sat just under the gazebo where the wedding would be happening later.  It was lovely.  Decorated earlier in the day with garlands that the bride had made herself.

Let's take a closer look.

At 3:00 things started rolling.  People started arriving, and I got to work in the Bridal Suite (which was really just one of the restaurant's dining rooms, with big windows opening out onto the gardens.  Not the appearance of a whole lot of privacy, but mostly it was just windows looking out into trees.)

This is the real photographer.  I just tried to stay out of his way, even though he was really encouraging to me.

It was a very relaxed atmosphere in there, considering all the activity.  And this chick with the pink hair?  She was a rock star with everyone's hair.

I won't post too many 'getting ready' shots.  You want to keep the mystery alive, y'know...?
Oh look!  The patio is ready for the ceremony!

There was a garden, and a creek behind the restaurant.  While everyone was getting ready, one of the photographers went down to the river, to set up lighting, for water-side portraits.  Man, I can hardly wait to see what he got down there.  Kelly wanted to go watch, but I was determined that we would NEVER be in the way, so I told her to stay up the hill.

She spent her time with her camera taking photos of the flowers.  And there were tons.

Let's check in on the bridal party...
Oh!  Busted!  They caught me sneaking up on them...

The bubble-girl (like a flower girl, but she blows bubbles instead of tossing petals) looks ready...

And so is the Maid of Awesome (like the Maid of Honor, but more... well... AWESOME!)

The DJ is getting impatient...

The dapper VIP is ready to stand by her side:

As soon as my eyelashes dry, I will get into my dress, dah-lings...

The men are ready.

Meanwhile, back in the boudoir, the bride is nearly ready...
(psst.  I think this may be one of my favorite shots of the day)

It's almost time (ok, who are we kidding?  It's past time.  Brides are allowed to run a little bit late)

I promised I would not take any photos of her adjusting her rack.
I lied.

The groomsmen are at the ready.

The groom processes with his parents... to the Imperial March from Star Wars.  That nearly brought the crowd to its feet.

Bubble girl leads the way for the bride:

And here she comes.  There were many tissues being applied to the corners of eyes at this point.

Such a gorgeous setting for this blessed event.

Such a happy couple.  And such a dapper young man in a kilt officiating, too!

And not a moment will be forgotten, as the photographers set up shop on either side of the aisle in the front row.  I loved their bright green and pink shirts.  Traditional photographer wisdom is to wear black, so you become invisible to the guests, and blend into the shots, but these guys shone.  And obviously cared so much about the couple, too.

A tender mommy-and-me moment...

Pucker up!

I love that kilt-guy is averting his eyes. :)
Kilt-guy, you did a fantastic job!

Time for the reception to start.

They had the most fantastic thing at the reception:  A photo booth.  It was a remote-control camera, set up with studio lighting, and tons of props.  You could dress up, and then just stand in the 'focus zone', and step on the remote-control, and snap a self-portrait.

Kelly, as you may guess, got a BUNCH of use out of it (until people got lubricated up with copious adult beverages, and started hogging the thing - but that was right around the time we had to leave, anyways.  And it was MOST entertaining!  Maybe they'll share the photos at some later date).  And while people were still looking at it sideways, with the "Oh, I don't think I  could do that" look, I stepped in front of the lens with Kelly.

I know, you're not supposed to 'steal' photos by photographing the screen, but I don'f feel bad, because I bought this shot.  Expect to see much more, once i get my full digital copy.
Meanwhile, the bridal party was down by the river, having portraits done.

...while Kelly photographed flowers...

My guess is that these will look WAY  better from where the photographer was shooting.  But I couldn't resist stealing a few shots...

Belly up to the bar, honey.  Let mommy start you young...

Me: (heading off to photograph a few other things) "Kelly, if anyone asks, tell them it's a Campari and soda"
Kelly:  *blink blink blink*
Fabulous dessert table!

Fabulous adult beverages:

Fabulous fellow diarist:

Who invited Jimmy Carter????

WonderTwin, wedding ring power... ACTIVATE!

I truly felt blessed to have been a part of their special day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bucket List

 So, today Kelly got to cross a big item off her Bucket List (assuming she knew what a bucket list was, and she'd written one, I know that this would be pretty high up on the list.  Hypothetically speaking, of course).
We were down in Gilroy, where Nate was attending the birthday party of one of his classmates.  This boy lives on a Polo Pony Ranch.

Yeah.  I had to do a double-take on that one, too.

Anyways.  Totally ordinary, wonderful folks.  Apart from all the horse paraphernalia and trophies littering (tastefully) the house, you'd never know they were Polo Folk.  At first, I was worried I might have to wear a summer day-dress, and maybe a hat (or a fascinator, depending on the formality, don't you know).  I wasn't sure what the dress code was when visiting a Polo ranch.

Turns out it's mud boots, and comfy clothes.

So the invitation says "Bring a swim suit for the pool, and a helmet if you'd like to ride a horse",  Nate grabs a bike helmet, and Kelly (who isn't invited, but Gilroy is far away, and I'm not leaving her at home alone) says "I'll just bring my helmet... just in case..."

Oh, and she also showed up in the van wearing her new jodhpurs. "To break them in... you know... for the next time I get to go riding... they'll be ready" (ps:  Target is now carrying riding trousers.  And they're cheap like borscht.  $15.  You can't buy a half a leg on a pair of riding pants at any of the English Riding places around here.  Hello, tangent.  Let's get this train back on the rails...)

So we get out to the ranch where the party is going to be, and find out that it's not high-brow, hoity-toity, as I was worried about.  Just ordinary people, hanging out around the pool under the palm trees, and dodging the horse poops.

They bring out two of the ponies for the kids to ride.  One's got a saddle, and one's got a bareback saddle-pad.  The kids line up (there's not a lot of kids - it's a long drive, and only 3 other families from Nate's class made the trek), and they start riding.

The birthday boy's mom is a pretty fancy-pants rider herself, and is competing at the international level it turns out.  We get to talking, and she looks at Kelly, and says "Well, it looks like you came here to ride too, honey."

I'm kind of mortified, because this party is for Nate's buddy, and his buddy's friends, and Kelly really is just a spectator.  And she knows it, and says "I can ride, but this is your son's party, so his friends should come first."

I trained her well.  But she was like one of those dogs sitting there twitching while you put a big old doggy-treat on his nose and said "Stay.... stay...."

The mom says "I have an idea... hold on..."  and she motions over to someone, and says something that I don't really parse.  Then she looks at Kelly and says "You'll like this.  Hold on..."

All the little kids (Nate is the oldest of the kids riding the ponies.  He was in a split class last year, and the  party is for one of the younger boys in the class, who has invited the younger kids - and kids the grade below him, too) are sitting on the ponies, and being led around by the polo teacher, who is walking them around a loop under the trees in the shade.  Another instructor brings out this glorious chestnut gelding.  "Put a bridle on Hoover, will you?" says the mom,  "Kelly's going to ride him, and she doesn't need to be led."

So "Hoover" gets tacked up, and brought over to Kelly.
He's a really magnificent horse.

As Kelly is walking around on him, the mom leans over to me.  "Hoover's quite the horse.  I bet Kelly's never ridden a Derby winner before..."

Say what?

Turns out Hoover's run in the Kentucky Derby.  He didn't win it, but I did some digging (because I'm all Googly like that - Google+, in fact), and found out that he did win the Golden Gate Derby in 2001.

So, Kelly.  Get out your bucket list, and put a big black line through "Ride a Derby Winning Horse".

And then go tell Carrie (the friend who always has to be better, stronger, faster than you) that you've ridden a race horse.

For Kelly, though, it may have been more important that the mom said "You know, Kelly, you can come out here any old time.  We have SO MANY HORSES that need to be ridden, and just not enough people to ride them..."

Um, you don't need to tell her twice.

We'll be going out to Woodside Horse Park next week to watch the mom compete in Reining By The Bay.  And we may just let her know, at that time, what Kelly's 'availability' will be for the rest of the summer.  You know.  If she needs someone to come ride the horses...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Riding Lesson Surprises

 With all the chaos that summer brings, we haven't been able to get Kelly started with riding lessons at the place she evaluated (and which evaluated her) in June.

I was finally able to squeeze her in to a 'group intermediate' lesson yesterday.

I was happy to discover, when we got there, that Kelly was pretty much the only pupil at first.  She went with two other older girls (who turned out to be the teacher's aides) to get the horses, and I was surprised to see them only bring 2 horses into the tack-up area.  At first, I supposed that the other horses were already ready, but it turned out that the 'group' was just two students.  And the second student didn't show up for nearly the first half hour of the lesson.  Kelly got a LOT of one-on-one time with both the instructor and the aides, who are these super wonderful teenage girls who love horses, and want others to love horses, too.
After going through the paces a bit, the teacher took the two students up to the jumping arena.  The other student had been taking lessons for 3 years, so I guess it was time for Kelly to step up. (although, just between you, me, and the lamp-post, I think she was holding her own against the other girl.  But that could just be the proud stage mother in me rearing her ugly head)

Kelly's always wanted to jump.
Kelly's never had the chance.
This was her first actual lesson.

The teacher said "Let's start you off with getting used to how jumping works."
Kelly's grin nearly split her face in half.  I could see it across the arena.

So they trotted around the arena.  And then they came up to where the jump would be.  There was a bar on the ground.  The horse had to walk up to it, and step over it. (this is something that all the trail horses that Kelly had ridden previously could either not do, or barely do.  Stepping over an obstacle is pretty scary for a horse).  Kelly was worried that her horse would spook or shy, but she just walked up to the bar, and stepped over it like it wasn't there.

Then they took the bar at a trot.  Once again, Kelly's horse just trotted up to it, and trotted over it like it wasn't there.  Kelly was beaming.

I think this is "officially" Kelly's first jump ever.  The horse actually did a little 'bloop', and there was some holding on that had to be done.

Then they took the bar, and they made it into a wee little jump.

And I learned a little bit about teaching jumping.  See where the two bars make the X?  There's a little black dot.  it's a small pile of dirt.  What you do is you focus on that little pile of dirt as soon as you round the corner and line up on the jump, and you don't take your eyes off of it until it disappears between your horse's ears.   That's how you aim your horse.  It's cool.

So Kelly trotted around the arena, and headed for the jump.  And the horse saw the jump, and broke from a trot into a canter as soon as she rounded the corner.  Kelly looked a little surprised, but just held on, and tried to hold her back.

But I guess Stitch is a jumper at heart.  And she wanted to show Kelly what she could do.
And she didn't 'bloop' over that wee jump.
She took it like a champion....

(I just wanted to blow it up so you could see her look of total shock and surprise)

And this is where I was proud of myself for not being THAT kind of mom.  Because Kelly came out of her stirrups, and three strides later, she slid off the horse, down to the ground.

So not only did she experience her first jump, she also experienced her first fall, too.  Her teacher was so surprised that it was her first fall ever.  But I guess there's a first time for everything.

I suppose I would have rushed in to go help her out, but I had a rented lens on my camera, and that sucker's worth a fortune, and I was standing in the bushes, and there was no safe place to put it down.
At least that's my story.  And I'm sticking to it.

That way, I could keep shooting.
See?  She's OK!

And she got right back up on that horse.

And today, she'll be rocking the heating pad and ice packs.