It's a small world after all.....
So the weekend before Christmas, Lisa and I went up to Chicago with some dear friends to do a little sight-seeing, eating and drinking. We had a ball, hit the Christkindlmarket on Dealey Plaza, Eataly Chicago, Pizano's Pizza, Lincoln Park Zoo, Ann Sathers, Michigan Avenue, Wrigley Field, and well you get the idea.
I took a small, artsy-fartsy rangefinder camera with me, not the big Nikon beasts I usually shoot with. I love shooting street photography and it's perfect for that kind of thing. It's digital, but it's kind of old-school, with knobs and dials, and yes, even manual focus. It's all scratched and dented up. It makes me smile.
We had walked through the beautiful Lincoln Park Conservatory and I was standing outside taking in the skyline when a young man asked if I would take he and his girlfriend's picture with his cell phone.
This happens to me a lot, I must either look very honest or very slow, not sure which.
Anyway, I obliged and the young man took a deep breath and started fishing in his pocket and then dropped to one knee. Now I've never shot a surprise engagement and have always really wanted to so the pressure was on. Lisa had walked up behind us and started 'awwing" immediately.
I was hammering on the cell phone shutter button and arguing with myself at the same time. I was shooting this with a cell phone and the camera snob in me was dying, especially as my lovely little rangefinder was flopping about on my chest. Stopping and switching to my camera was a roll of the dice. The conservatory was warm and humid and we were in it for quite a while, I was worried the lens would be fogged with condensation.
And it also kind of felt like a jerk move. He didn't ask me to shoot it on my camera, he asked me to shoot it on his phone. I can move a file from the camera to my phone, and then on to him via a text, but my phone makes it a smaller .img file, not a high-res .jpeg. Plus I didn't want him to think I was pitching him my services by keeping his engagement captive on my camera. Keep in mind, this internal dialog is happening as the engagement is going down and all in about three seconds.
So I shot through the engagement on his phone and then got about four frames on my camera -- while still using his cell -- to capture the victory kiss.
She said 'yes' by the way.
They were very nice, even asked for a pic of me with them to commemorate the event. I got his cell number and sent him a copy of the image I made with my camera and we went about our different ways.
And that's when it started. I didn't get a chance to look to see how I did. How weird would it have been if I just started going through his phone's images? But it was really bugging me. Asking me to take a picture and then not letting me stew about how I could have done it better cuts to my very heart of who I am.
Lisa argued it might be good for me, shooting a picture and not ever seeing it. Some sort of cosmic lesson. Not being so hard on myself. Learning to let go... and some other nonsense. I had quit listening.
I won't say it ruined our time, but it was in the back of my mind for the rest of our trip.
Anyway, when I got home I posted a picture of the victory kiss on my personal facebook page and lo and behold, another dear friend, Barb, who lives in Wisconsin and goes back to when Lisa and I were just dating -- is work friends with the soon-to-be groom's mom.
They couldn't believe we knew the same people too! Kismet. They are wonderful people and they sent such a nice email and included a few of the pics from that day!
And yes, I got the kneeling shot!
I'm so relieved.
I mean I could have done better. You know, with a real camera. I'm too far to camera right and not nearly close enough. I should've really got in there.
My horizon's not straight.
Little dark in the shadows too...