Injera... the bread of life for Ethiopians and many 'Westerners' who enjoy Ethiopian food at local restaurants around Denver, Colorado. In our area, there is a strong community of Ethiopians who have many wonderful restaurants in the Denver area (my favorite is, of course, Mesob). When I was asked to photograph this wedding, I was once again energized - why? Photographing people of diverse cultures presents many challenges and even more opportunities... what could be worse than stagnation or doing the same thing all the time, right?
The photograph of the couple (on the right) was shot just as the sun was 65% behind the mountains... (strongly backlit) in a parking lot with fresh yellow lines (less than ideal, but it was an impromptu pose/photo moment) which I felt the connection between them was strongest of most of the 'portraits'. ISO800
Steamboat is a magical place indeed with a lush green valley and some amazing waterfalls, hot springs and friendly people. Hence, it makes a perfect place for Amy and Warren to settle down in after living in NYC. On July 26, 2008, this couple celebrated with close friends and family in an outdoor wedding.
I happen to know the bride and many of her friends who are a LIVELY bunch to say the least... the call themselves the 'wives' - not b/c two of them are now married, but b/c they decided a long while back that they were committed to each other in a serious, but lighthearted friendship. Saira (lives in Egypt, NYC, and Colorado), Laura (NYC), Romona (NYC), and I'm not sure where Katie lives... last but not least, Warren & Amy (Sil), who have given up life in New York for some elbow room in the Rocky Mountains.
After the wedding and reception, things got a bit more serious with Sake Bombs and cigars... even I was compelled to do one Sake Bomb (at least I managed to beat the bride, but there is not beating her husband at this game as he is a former bartender). Even the bride's grandmother 'appeared' to get in on the action...
We made our way to the church on foot, stopping traffic to get images in the middle of the street as the clouds began to unload their cargo.
Andre & Christina at the point of no return! I could tell that neither of them has second thoughts... this makes my job of portraying people in love much more believable and easier. Here I've chosen to show an image favoring the groom since they are often overlooked during these moments or the photographer simply shoots them in profile getting one eye of each face producing a more flat image (IMHO). Thank you Andre & Christina!
Photographing many people in close quarters is always a challenge as there is always someone who is unaware that important images are being created during this fleeting moment. I felt fortunate once more as the people try to be respectful of my line of site during this chaotic moment. I took about 15 frames of this 5 second slice of reality. Christina's mother is just about the shower them (lower right foreground).
Posing at the falls. I have the falls over exposed so that they do not detract from the couple. When photographing powerful subjects, one must be careful not to relegate your subjects as secondary by the more distracting background.
My buddy Ed and I were just about to head south towards Takeo when we were invited to another wedding by our friend, Chariya. We went to Takeo for one night, then rode back to Phnom Penh so that I could photograph the event and help drink some of the 100 cases of Asahi beer that were on hand. We probably had 3 or 4 dinners that night as we were the table butterlies... toasting all of the guys drinking beers is nearly obligatory, but we didn't really mind (a toast between guys in Cambodia involves drinking the entire beer or at least your entire glass). The next morning we packed up our things and drove back down to Takeo where we enjoyed having the entire city to ourselves. Enjoying Vietnamese food for about 3000 Riel per plate and Khmer desserts for 1000 Riel (4,000 Riel = $1USD), we found that walking down the dark and deserted streets was the best way to settle all of that food before crashing out. What a refreshing and relaxing place ~ Takeo... a few weeks later, we came back through Takeo and visited Phnom Da were we met a few guys that were enjoying rice wine... These guys really work hard in the fields growing rice... as you can see behind them, there is no where to hide from the relentless sun... just rice, mud, and sun. So I helped them out with their next 'purchase'...
I returned to Cambodia for 2 days without sufficient funding, but I knew that one way or another I would succeed in my effort to make a difference. I returned to the landfill on 19March2007, after meeting 6 other very motivated people who wanted to be a part of the effort... Each of them gave of their money and time to get the shoes and rice to those who needed them most. Again, people were literally running (many barefoot) towards us as they know that whatever it is that we are handing out is in very limited supply.
In the end, it was a very successful visit not only because most of those who showed up now had sandals and a small quantity of rice... but also because the message is going to spread by word of mouth via the 6 other people that were a part of the effort. I saw only two children who were still barefoot, which is two too many. I will return again within the year with more sandals and boots as I know that I only saw a fraction of the women and children that live in this landfill on that day. A very special thank you to those that assisted me on that day: E. Kobak, J. Botterill, M. Taplin, N. Wharf, N. Smith, and M. Fairley... and to those that made donations S&J. Patel, C. Runyan, and C. Olivier.