Bridal Portraits, Something I had always wanted to do .. especially at this venue. Winter is rough on photographers, we sit and we fret and we plan for the next busy season. We work on our skills, and we practice. … Ok well .. I guess that doesn’t sound that rough. Please check out the Bolling-Haxall house in Richmond Virginia if you are planning Bridal Portraits. The lighting is amazing. There is so much directional light. The furnishings are amazing. The architecture is amazing.. and well.. I have to say.. the results of this shoot are amazing.
People who know me know that I am a story-teller. I am engaged with my clients. Most of them become friends. I learn their stories and am thankful that I have the chance to often go through those rites of passage moments with them… seniors, engagement, bridal, wedding, pregnancy, and then family sessions. I think it says a lot about a photographer when you do a shoot for a client and they choose you again and again to memorialize special moments in their lives.
When I received a call from the mother of one of my clients asking if I would be interested in a bridal shoot of her beautiful daughter Chelsea my first thought was “Bridal? She’s so young to be getting married!” Putting that aside I said of course I’ll do it, especially as it’s that time of year when the cobwebs need to be shaken loose a bit and my Christmas toys are begging as always to be played with. My new D800 is just itching to get out there and flex her muscles.
When I first met Chelsea in the fall nothing had prepared me for her story. Chelsea has been sick all her life. At the age of 14 she was finally diagnosed with something rare called superior mesenteric artery syndrome. She literally could no longer eat as her duodenum, a part of her intestine, was pinched closed between two major blood vessels and she was on a feeding pump for a year. Because of Chelsea’s other pre-existing health issues the surgery performed in the US was not going to work for her so off they went to Germany where Chelsea became the third person in the world to have vascular surgery performed so she could eat again. The surgery was a huge success and she can eat anything she wants now. Because of Chelsea and the media coverage on both sides of the pond several other people sought out her surgeon who then was able to publish in medical literature the success rate of the procedure and her case is highlighted. The family is beyond thrilled that through their efforts the surgery will be performed for the first time in the US, right in our own back yard at UVA later on in February. Yes.. You read that right.. THE FIRST time in the USA that Chelsea’s procedure will be performed will be here in Virginia
When a client chooses to have a shoot done it’s because of a desire to memorialize that special time in life to remember, to be able to look back on those pictures and instantly be transported back in time.
So going back to receiving the call asking me to do Chelsea’s bridal shoot, I immediately said yes. Having the chance to work with her again, this time in one of Richmond’s most historic homes, the Bolling Haxall House, was an opportunity I wasn’t going to let pass by… beautiful model, stunning venue, and a great team to do bridal make- up and hair. I asked who the lucky man is and the answer wasn’t what I expected. There was no groom.
What I learned yesterday was while Chelsea’s surgery is a great success, she isn’t well and the cause isn’t known yet so while continuing to work on classes she’s going back and forth to endocrinology, hematology, and oncology looking for answers and treatment options. Heartbreaking after having come so far! To see her in person you wouldn’t know she’s not well right now, and it certainly doesn’t show in the pictures taken yesterday.
I learned something else as well… people don’t only just have pictures done to memorialize a special time that will be in the past. Sometimes people have a photo shoot done when the future is uncertain. It hit me pretty hard that these photos were to memorialize a future than right now is very uncertain. Chelsea’s family has concerns that she may not have a wedding day. They wanted to see their daughter now as a bride, just in case… and I’m honored I was chosen to share in and help create this special moment for them.
In ten years, I plan on shooting Chelsea’s wedding and her ” real” bridal portraits. Right now I will settle for any time that I get with this lovely creature and her sweet mom. One thing I know for sure now, is that Miss Chelsea is Model Material.