I left my house the morning after Christmas in something other than my “nice” sweatpants, boarded a plane for the first time in over a year and spent four days photographing a Utah “COVID” wedding. After spending a few days quarantining and celebrating the new year, the nightmare that was 2020 is officially over. What a bummer.
In early October, we received an email from a soon-to-be bride in Utah named Sariah. Her and her fiance, Jeff, were looking to hire a photographer for their small and intimate “COVID” wedding. She was introduced to my work through her father who is also a Leica photographer and fell in love with our work. I had only been to Utah once before and had been looking for an excuse to go back for the past few years. Under normal circumstances, this would be a no-brainer for me, but yeah, the whole COVID thing made this a little more complicated.
I love to travel. I love the thrill of experiencing new places and meeting new people. It undeniably can get old very quickly when there’s too much but have it taken away completely and it quickly resembles Taco Tuesday after a day of fasting. After multiple trips being canceled, the year that had originally been packed full of travel had been exchanged for a gift-wrapped bag of cabin fever and months of quarantine.
I hadn’t traveled outside of the tri-state area let alone flown anywhere in over a year. There was definitely a level of risk involved, not just for me but for everyone around me. The other thing for me to think about was the timing of the wedding. It would be on December 28th, so I would have to leave Sandi and Luke the morning after Christmas. As much as I missed travel, I would have to leave them behind on this one which was something that I was very hesitant about. One of the reasons that I love traveling so much is that I typically bring them with me. However, this would obviously be different. After talking it over we both agreed, if a positive foundation is what we wanted to build in 2021, this would be the perfect way to end 2020.
The morning after Christmas, I hopped on a packed flight out to Salt Lake City. Rather than flying out and shooting the wedding alone I brought my good friend Matt along to help me out. Being that Matt is a professional cinematographer (Legacy video for the Leica SL2) who has never photographed a wedding, I’m not really sure what I was thinking. Okay, to be fair, Matt knows his way around a camera. Coming from the cinematography side of things I had no doubts that he would be able to help me creatively document the trip and he did just that. Especially, being that Leica provided us with extra gear for the trip, including the new S3 and SL2S.
From the moment that we arrived in Utah until we said our goodbyes late Monday night, we were treated like family. Only hours after landing we were treated to dinner where we spent a few hours really getting to know each other. The relationships that we built within those first two days with the whole family is what made it possible for Matt and I to successfully tell their story.
After spending a day out at Red Rock and Arches National Park with us, Sariah and Jeff got married in front of a small group of family and friends at Sariah’s family home. The weather was just like the day before, overcast and foggy at times with a few bouts of flurries. Even with the mountains being difficult to see at times it was tough to even notice with there being so much of a story to capture. So much emotion. So much love.
The flight home was filled with mixed emotions. As we landed back in Philly to begin quarantining, Matt and I couldn’t have been more grateful for this trip and the new friendships that we made. Ending the year on such a positive note and somewhat feel of normalcy, I was still left feeling like I was eating a bowl of cereal without milk or a nice warm cup of hot chocolate without the marshmallows.
It’s a new year and I refuse to be anything other than optimistic. While there’s so much that I want to forget and leave behind in 2020, there were some extremely valuable life lessons that have changed me forever. I’m sure the same goes for all of you reading this. I spent the past few days welcoming in the new year with Sandi and Luke at home, a place we’ll be saying goodbye to within a few weeks. I’ve stayed off of social media and held off on writing this until today in order to give myself a few days to reflect. The next few months will no doubt be a test but it’s one that I’m ready for.
I hope everyone had a great holiday, cheers to a new year!
“Everything that happens is from now on.” ~ Bon Iver