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Showing posts from September, 2007

Photo Marathon '07 is here!!

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Well, if there's one bride I know who will forgive me for hijacking her wedding story with a fundraising plea, it's Lisa Butenhoff. Why? Because Lisa works for one of the truly great Washington charitable organizations, Food and Friends, a non-profit that has been serving meals to people with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses for almost twenty years.

I know a lot about the great work that Food and Friends does. For many years I rode my bicycle alongside thousands of others in order to help Food and Friends provide their services. Starting with a Philadelphia to Washington three-day ride in 1996, I pedaled thousands of miles over the years to help Food and Friends and organizations just like it. In the end, I did three Raleigh/Durham-Washington rides and three New York/Boston rides in six years. And in the process I got to know lots of folks from Food and Friends, the greatest of whom is Craig Shniderman, the organization's director. Craig is not the kind of guy …

On Alkyonis Street

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My wife Maya grew up in a neighborhood in Athens called Palio Faliro. The street she lived on was Alkyonis Street. I know that because we happen to have a street sign that reads Alkyonis hanging over our back patio. Maya always told me that the day she and her mom moved from Greece back to America, there was a storm
that blew the sign over and they kept it as a souvenir. I have another theory of how the street sign came into their possession, but why quibble, especially when your mother-in-law is involved. I love that little sign, if for nothing else than it gives me a chance to see if my grasp of the Greek alphabet has improved any over the past ten years. (Answer: not so much.)

I mention this street sign because, in my world of serendipity and kismet, it came into play at last week's wedding of Mario Kontomerkos and Helise Owens. Mario and Helise were married at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church in Washington, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the region. If you ever attend …

Where have all the daytime weddings gone?

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To say that the daytime wedding is an endangered species is probably an understatement. In fact, I could probably count the number of daytime events I've photographed in the last couple of years on one hand.

Why is that?

Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing a beautiful wedding on a beautiful day at a beautiful Georgetown estate. The bride and groom, Patricia and Miguel, came to me many months ago very excited about the prospect of throwing—as they said over and over—an "elegant garden party." They didn't want 19 page itineraries or assembly line photo sessions. They wanted an event where children could have fun, where the food was excellent, and where guests could linger under the trees and laugh. And specifically, they wanted the wedding reception to take place during the afternoon. They say beware of what you wish for, but that isn't the case here. Patricia and Miguel got exactly what they wanted: an elegant garden party.

I get really excited when pe…

Non piangere, Liu

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Luciano Pavarotti was big in Sarajevo.

Not, perhaps, the first thing that should come to mind when thinking of one of the greatest voices in history on the day of his death, but then I happen, at this very moment, to be sitting next to my assistant, Djenno Bacvic, who hails from Bosnia. And as Djenno tells it, when the war in Bosnia was at its worst, and Sarajevo was cut off from the world, Pavarotti was always there, hosting "Pavarotti and Friends" concerts in his hometown of Modena, Italy; helping to jump start the relief agency War Child; and eventually joining up, years later, with Bono and U2 on the anthem Miss Sarajevo. "They really love him there" says Djenno, who now just told me he had goose bumps as I started playing the recording of U2's 1997 Sarajevo performance of that song, with Pavarotti piped in to the stadium.

You learn something every day, right?

I didn't know anything about Miss Sarajevo until tonight, but I certainly know a thing or two ab…

Say it ain't so, Joe

You might think there was something perversely quaint about an analog photo scandal just now coming to light, in the early years of the 21st century--the Golden Age of Photoshop, they'll call it someday--but if the burgeoning fiasco involving the late Joe O'Donnell reminds us of anything, it's that you don't need a fancy Apple laptop or a clone tool to cheat your way to infamy.

One of the main themes of Sunday's piece in the Washingon Post Magazine was my ambivalence about giving up a career in journalism for a lifetime of weddings. But even I could not have guessed at how quickly those two distinct parts of my life would come crashing back together, a direct result of my story, proving once again, in the words of Jonathan Safran Foer, that everything truly is illuminated.

Take a look:

Within hours after my Confessions of a Wedding Photographer piece was published, I began to receive scores of congratulatory email messages. Several, I noticed, were from former collea…

Serendipity, Volume 347

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I guess I would be ignoring the 600 pound elephant (Is it supposed to be an elephant or a gorilla? I have no idea if either one is 600 pounds) in the room if I failed to mention that I had a piece in the Washington Post today. I've received some of the nicest emails--most from total strangers, many from former brides and grooms--in the last twenty-four hours. I always like to think that I've had lots of cool experiences in my life as a photographer, but this is a new twist. Writing is something I've always loved to do, from the time I was a little kid and I would write silly parodies of Jim McKay telecasting from the Olympic Games, though I never really imagined I'd ever really get the chance to do it for a large audience.

(Don't get me wrong: The vast--and I mean vast--numbers of visitors to The Dark Slide each day are equally important but The Washington Post is, well, The Washington Post. Have any of you seen the hysterical new show on HBO called Flight of the Co…