Cherry Blossom Redux

A lot of couples and families ask me to shoot portraits during the springtime Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington. Having done this for years and years, I can tell you that it's one of the few overly-hyped tourist attractions to actually exceed expectations. The trees are so heavy with their delicate pink and white blossoms that one simply feels overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.

The logistics of getting to and from the Tidal Basin are another story. After 20 years I've learned that the only time one can successfully navigate the throngs of people--and dirth of parking spaces--is to be there at sunrise and out not much later.

This past spring I shot several couples down among the cherry trees whose weddings were in the distant future. And because of early blooming this year, I had to stack several appointments virtually on top of each other. The blossoms don't exactly wait for your schedule to mesh, and so it's important for all involved to very flexible.

As it happened, I ended up shooting two couples side by side one very early morning. Literally. Not wanting to wasted the golden sunrise, I would shoot one couple for a few minutes and then quickly "swap in" the other couple. It seemed crazy but we all laughed and the pictures were beautiful.

Part of the fun of that morning was that both couples had time to chat about their respective weddings, in between spurts of Matt yelling "Quick, quick! The light is Amazing!" and it quickly dawned on all of us that their dates were actually a day apart. Paul and Deena were getting married at the Museum of Women in the Arts on Sunday, July 15 and Julie and Chris a day earlier at Woodend.

I thought about that fun cherry blossom morning last week as I photographed Deena and Paul and Julie and Chris's wedding, back to back. Though completely different--Deena and Paul's affair was decidely Egyptian in flavor, with a belly dancer leading a procession of guests and fezzes for the men, while Julie and Chris had a gorgeous day to stroll around the grounds of the Audobon Society and eat crabcakes--both weddings, as I've now come to expect, were ultimatley shaped by high levels of romance and low levels of stress.

It seems so simple, doesn't it? High levels of romance and low levels of stress. Needless to say, of course, it's not a recipe that is always followed at weddings. At their core weddings are a celebration of the love that two people share. Why anyone would want to clutter that up with overly-ambitious timetables, family in-fighting and other miscellaneous tension ("I can't believe so-and-so was ten minutes late to the hair appointment!"), I don't know.

Julie and Chris and Deena and Paul got it, that's for sure. Their weddings were perfect celebrations, each one a reflection of their own families and values. We all laughed as one of Paul's colleagues at the IMF talked about his obsessive love of Wagner. (I'm a huge opera lover, though Wagner has admittedly been a struggle for me. I'll stick with Vissi d'arte from Tosca.) Apparently Paul will travel anywhere in the world for a good Ring cycle, and everyone wished Deena good luck trying to keep up. At Chris and Julie's wedding at Woodend, little flower girls giggled as they played hide and seek among the huge and ancient trees. Julie was so calm the morning of her wedding that she was eager to listen to my advice about the south of France, where she's now honeymooning. Other brides might have been too stressed out to be able to focus on the splendor of Aix en Provence.

Anyway, I have to go pack my gear for a quick trip to New Orleans tomorrow for a corporate shoot about smoke-free restaurants. New Orleans is a great city, but it's no fun by yourself for one day. I'd much rather be with Julie and Chris, as they explore Les Baux de Provence or sit at one of the trillion cafes in Aix, or with Deena and Paul, as they go from Tokyo to Bali and more.

Not sure if you can get good Wagner in Bali.

Cheers,

Matt

p.s. Don't forget: for a good laugh, click on the sound file in the post below for a Grammy winning Springsteen duet. It might take ten seconds to laod, as it's a big file. An as always, double-click photos for better viewing.

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