(Trash the Dress, Shelby Swink: My Story, Part One can be viewed here.)
November 1st, 2014 was a cold day. 50 degrees. I know that isn’t cold, cold as a number all by itself but considering that it had been in the 70s all the week before, 50 degrees was cold.
It was a little after 4:30 pm when I arrived to Schilling Farms in Collierville, TN. My second shooter, Sara Green, was already there. She helped me pull bags and bags of paint out of my trunk. At the same time Shelby’s parents arrived. I had never met them before this moment. We introduced ourselves and I told them what I tell all of my parents of my brides on their daughters’ wedding days, “My name is Elizabeth and I am going to be your photographer for the day”.
When Shelby had told me that her parents were also going to join in on that day I had envisioned that they would show up in jeans and old tee-shirts they didn’t mind getting trashed with the paint. I am not sure why I assumed that. I never for a moment even considered that they would both be dressed in their full wedding day attire. Shelby’s mom in her mother of the bride dress and Shelby’s dad in a full tux and bow tie. They both looked stunning.
Just like any shoot, I checked my equipment and assessed what I needed to do next. Did I have the right lens on? Was my SD card formatted? Which lens would I need next? What type of ISO would I most likely need to start on? Where do I want the shoot to start? Where was the sunlight coming from? How much more sunlight did I have?
I checked my watch. 4:45 pm. This was when we were supposed to start. Most of the bridesmaids were there. But Shelby wasn’t there yet. “She is on her way. I promise”, one of her bridesmaid told me. 4:50pm. 4:55 pm. “There she is...” someone declared.
Shelby stepped out of her car in a beautiful all white lace wedding gown. It was strapless with a skinny jeweled belt around her waist. Her hair was pinned up and her makeup was simple yet beautiful. She wore a tiny silver elephant necklace attached to a small silver chain. Pearl drop earrings. And if you weren’t paying attention you would have missed her tiny silver nose ring.
It was time to start. Everyone was calm, a little giggy with excitement, but perhaps apprehensive as to how things were about to unfold. I gave a small speech saying how I wanted this shoot to last as long as we could make it. I related this experience to a water balloon fight: you spend hours filling up the water balloons only for them to all be used up in ten or so minutes. And we did not want that to happen. We would do the ‘paint war’ in stages. First with bridesmaids, then with mom and dad, and finally with everyone in all together.
The sunlight was perfect but quickly leaving us; it was time to start. I helped the girls get their bottles of paint ready and again briefed them on the order of events. Sara, my second shooter, caught these behind the scenes pictures of me with the girls, in the solid black.
Time for the countdown! ONE! TWO! I didn’t even get to three before one of Shelby’s bridesmaids started. Paint started flying. The mess was beautiful.
First stage done. Shelby's dress, no longer an all white gown, had become a canvas of colors.
But stage one was only just the beginning...
(Find out what happens next in Part Three coming soon.)
(If you missed part one please read here.)