I do not think that there is anything wrong about talking about we almost got blown off a mountain during an engagement shoot. Roan Mountain to be precise.
Before making our way up the mountain, Bellamanda photography handled the shoot in the woods half a mile from the cars. A good excuse to avoid the wind, sun, cold, and climb all at the same time. My assistant and I joined them and enjoyed the tranquil quiet of the timbers, assisting, but generally observing and learning from much more experienced photographers.
We visit, we make noise, we make camp, but we can only imagine what absolute quiet can be like. If things are calm we listen for our own heartbeat or we search for the aura of another living being. But what about the trees, they live and yet there are fewer things calmer than the thick forest. I was not my usual overly energetic self. But this time, I wanted the couple to feel the sense of stillness. It was too cold for a lot of forest creatures to make an appearance. And this deep in the woods the wind had a hard time penetrating our little clearing. I took a few shots of them in the calm, then back to shooting energetic engagement photos.
This is where we parted ways. Bellamanda photography had a prior engagement to attend and the rest of the shoot was left to me and Sarah, my assistant and trainee for the day. We climbed and I remember the substantial amount of times I had ascended the small mountain over the last two years. The first thought was that this is the last time I go up this mountain, in a few weeks I will be on my way to the Pacific northwest. I will compare Mount Roger, Mount Hood, even MT. St. Helens to my enjoyment of the Roan Mountain path for a very long time. So this was the last time, and it was a heck of a climb as well. A full mile up, zigging and zagging as you go. When we reach the top, I was winded. Not that my aging body of twenty four couldn't handle a little climb, but the cold from the wind breaking through the saplings, and twenty five pounds of gear, camera, and light modifiers were having an impact at the higher elevation. Bellamanda had lent us some of their gear and I was instantly reminded why I went from my clunky Canon 5d series with L series lenses to my current gear, the Sony A7 models with Zeiss primes. Think of trying to stuff a 12” TV monitor in your pocket instead of your phone and walking around the city with it to look at Instagram.
We would shoot, and then we would wait. But most importantly, and I was hoping Sarah would catch this, was that we talked. They were highschool sweethearts, away from each other in college and they have come back together. Growing up in their own ways and knew that their lives fitted each other. Their wedding was close so a lot of pressure was on them to get great photos. I reassured them that that was already completed. Stellar photos by Bellamanda photography had been made in the forest and these were just icing. At that promise, up they went. The sun was setting, and up in those mountains you have exactly seventeen and three quarters of a second to catch the perfect composition of blowing grass, a receded but warm sunset, and the awe that comes of the faces of a bride to be and her fiancé when I tell them to look at the pink of the clouds as the sun vanishes. We got the shot and it was time to go home. As soon as we got off the coldest part of the mountain, my sense of completion took over “ I feel like we have shot all that we needed to and we have stuck very close to my associates style, but are you guys up for shooting a few in my style a bit further down the mountain. It's on the way back home for you, there is no wind, and it's a steal.”
They said yes and we took some more photos by the road on our way down. It was fun and we called end to a full day.