On assignment in Green Lake, Wisconsin

140720 002I am glad to say that normal programing is resuming here at K. Dao Photography.  My hiatus from the blogsphere has been due in part to a visit from family earlier in the month, but more so to preparations for an assignment that I shot this past weekend: a destination wedding in Green Lake, Wisconsin.

Over a month ago, I had vaguely mentioned in “North by northeast and west” of traveling to somewhere in Wisconsin with clients to consult and assess the location for a shoot.  Since then, I had been steadily making arrangements ranging from assembling a team of assistants to obtaining transport to acquiring more photographic gear to use for this shoot.  Such new equipment included a Rogue FlashBender and the new Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 ultra wide angle lens.  Fortunately, that lens had arrived before my parents’ visit to the city, giving me the opportunity to give it a thorough shakedown while playing tour guide.

Normally, I keep my gear in a state of readiness such that I can assemble what I need into a bag for a shoot at a moment’s notice.  In fact, even for something as big as this year’s Korfanty Sabre World Cup, I had prepped and packed my gear the morning of the event.  This assignment was much different, however.  A wedding is perhaps the most significant day to not only one person but two.  The memories from that day would be cherished for decades as a celebration of two individuals joining together in love to become one.  It is therefore arguably universal practice to commission a photographer to visually preserve the momentous occasion.  In fact, when I mention to strangers that I am a [part time] professional photographer, the first thing most of them ask is if I do weddings.  (Such discourse, however, often ends up with me having to explain the concept of reportage and street photography and trying to convince people that yes, it’s a thing.)

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Hina, assistant and secondary shooter.

Weeks of logistical planning eventually boiled down to one day: Saturday, 19 July 2014.  Everything started to come together the day before with lunch with the clients, who in this case are actually good friends of mine; picking up the rental vehicle that would convey my team, equipment, and provisions 190 miles to Green Lake and back; packing for an overnight stay; and going over the timetable for the ceremony and reception thoroughly.  By 9:00 AM on the big day, my team—consisting of my sister Dao, her friend Hina, and I—were on the road on a laden Ford Fiesta en route.

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My sister Dao setting up for a group portrait. (Yes, our parents actually named her Dao Dao.)

We arrived at Green Lake around noon and proceeded directly to the venue, a cottage right by the lake.  Although the ceremony was not set to start until hours later at 4:00 PM, my team and I got to work immediately, taking some images of the wedding preparations before leaving briefly to check into our motel, unload the car, and ready the gear for the event.  We then quickly returned an hour before the ceremony for portraits of the bride and groom individually as they got ready themselves.  Although the wedding itself was a small affair with less than forty in attendance, I knew that we had a hard day’s work cut out for us.

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I will save the narrative of the wedding and shoot for a later date, after I have finished processing the photographs and delivered them to the now happily married couple.  That will not be until a fortnight or so, however.  I will write now, however, that the wedding was one of the best moments I have been a part of lately.  It was indeed quite beautiful to see my good friend wed the woman he loves, and it was a great honour to be present to capture that moment.

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Despite getting quite inebriated with the groom and his best man after I was off the clock and relieved my sister and Hina of their duties so that they could return to the motel to rest, I still somehow managed to wake up at 6:30 in the morning, grabbed a camera, tripod, filter set, and the few empty SD cards I had remaining, and set out to photograph the lake and quaint little town as the sun rose.  As my team and I took our leave to return to Chicago–though not without stopping by at a grocery store to pick up a cargo of New Glarus beer, which is only available in the state of Wisconsin–I could not help but to feel a sense of great accomplishment.  I have just shot my first wedding, 190 miles away from home.  And the best part, hand delivering my work to the couple, is yet to come.

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All images © K. Dao Photography 2014, all rights reserved.