Yank the Umbilical Cord When You Need Something

This weekend, Nick and I travled to Cincinnati for a wedding that I was shooting. Thanks to Julie Ryan, who referred me to a friend and co-worker, I was hired to work with a terrific couple for their August 1 wedding.

Now, I’ve shot weddings before and am co-shooting another one with a friend in a couple weeks, but this was one in which I had total responsibility from beginning to end with no back-up photographer, just moi. And Nick, who was my assistant.

The day was awesome but physically exhausting. I knew it was going to be a lot. I’m 4 months pregnant and not the same BOUNCY self as I normally am when unpregnant. But, I have lots of energy to give, still, and this wedding took all of it and then some. Basically from 10am – 10pm, I was shooting, directing, posing people, adjusting, crouching, and sweating like the world was my personal sauna. As I write this, Monday morning, my shoulders are still very sore and I can barely move my arms in a full circle with a small grimace. If you’d like a good shoulder/bicep/tricep workout, I’d suggest holding a DSL camera with an attached full lens and SB600 Nikon flash up to your face and running for 12 hours. See how awesome you feel. Let me know.

Overall, everything was great and only when I was going through one stressful moment did I feel any real sense of panic when my camera wasn’t cooperating with me. Usually an even-tempered digital gadget, my camera decided to have a temper tantrum for four minutes. My blood pressure sky rocketed to the blazing sun until I felt the little life inside me churning in the amniotic fluid, yanking on the umbilical cord for dear life and screaming, “MOM! BREATHE! I NEED OXYGEN!” And so, like the loving mother I am, I took a breath.

Nick as assistant and father to be could not have been more perfect. He chauffered me around from house, to church, to Eden Park, to reception with a car blasting air conditioning, cold water for me to drink waiting, and food so I didn’t pass out. He held groomsmen jackets, carried bridesmaid bouquets when the pictures didn’t call for flowers, and joked with the bridal party to relax everyone for the poses.

Nick carried my equipment, propped the church doors when no one in the recieving line did so the line flowed faster, spoke with the priests about the mass and regulations around flash photography, and took away my tripod when I was done with it.

More than one person asked, “Who is that cute guy with you? He’s not a guest is he? I don’t recognize him. IS HE YOUR HUSBAND?! HE’S SO CUTE.”

When someone compliments the good-looks of your spouse, it’s hard not to smile inside and shrug as if to say, “well, of course…”

But I just nod and say something along the lines of, “Yes, we’re married and yes, he is handsome.”

As with many challenges, I couldn’t have done it without Nick’s unyielding support, sound advice, and unwavering belief in my artistic perspective. To create art, to see something beyond what most people see, you have to believe in your own capacity to create something amazing. To do that, you have to relax. Nick does an unparalleled job of relaxing me, helping me remember why I decided to pursue this passion of mine, and believe in me.

Gracias, mi amor.

We left the reception at 10pm and headed to wish my friend Mary Kay a Happy 30th Birthday. We could only stay a brief 30 minutes or so because we were off to Cleveland from there. Still kind of wired from the day, we rode in silence back up north and I soon drifted off into an uncomfortable sleep in the passenger seat. Dreamy scenes floated across my brain of backdrops, family portraits, tuxes, dresses, and flowers. At 3am, we arrived home and I could barely make it into the house. My body hated me. The baby, I knew, hated me.

Nick, juiced up from caffeine, opened the windows and rolled the bed down for me where I collapsed. My muscles decided to stiffen up and not work and I laid in bed wondering how I could be so fatigued and unable to return sleep.

My poor abused spouse descended from his iced coffee high and fell into a deep sleep while I realized at 5am that I was not able to sleep. My stomach growled. The baby growled.

I tiptoed to the kitchen and stared at the dismal display of food options in our regridgerador. We’d been out of town for four weekends which means no serious grocery shopping had occurred in over month.

A toasted English muffin with cheese was my 5am breakfast snack. Once in my belly, I drifted off to sleep.

Sunday was a much needed day of being in Cleveland, seeing our house in the daylight hours of a weekend, and breathing in the rare Sunday morning air from our own bedroom, our own church, our own backyard. We quietly worked on landscaping, finding escape in the pruning of our trees, uprooting overgrown weeds, and catching up with our neighbors. It felt wonderful to be home.

Instead of restaurant food, fast food, or eating at someone else’s dinner table, we made simple spaghetti for dinner and loved sinking into our own couches and watching rented movies while we sifted through mail and aired out the house.

I hate cliches. I hate cliches as much as I hate ignorance, snobby attitudes, and drivers who turn without using their turn signal, but I must use a cliche this one time and one time only:


there’s no place like home.