Charmi Peña is one of our photography heroes. Heck, she’s one of our human heroes. Hence, when she advised her family to trust Two Mann Studios with the memories of Jena and Sameer’s multicultural wedding, we were honoured; then anxious; then terrified; then, ultimately, rewarded with the gratifying pleasure of documenting a beautiful union of two wonderful families. Even though Charmi was tasked with recommending the photographers who’d shoulder this responsibility, Jena and Sameer and every one of their family members welcomed us right in like trusted friends. We were humbled, start to finish, by their unfettered love for one another, and oblivious trust in us to commemorate it.
Freewill is an illusion. Or it’s not. Either way, strange and mysterious forces are at work beyond our wildest comprehension.
Case in point, the miraculous entanglement of external and internal forces that willed Lyndsay and Jason’s lives together (and Erika and mine somehow into that mix). Imagine the labyrinthine brew of coincidences that conspired to compel Lyndsay and Jason to mutually, fatefully swipe right. Or the chronic dating mishaps and near-misses that must have transpired to leave Jason, despite relentless efforts, conspicuously single after 35 years of bachelorhood (to say nothing of Lyndsay’s perplexing eligibility).
Drake the Cat knew something was up. There was a special energy in his cute little home that morning. Not only were Madeleine and Katie spending an inordinate amount of time getting ready (as in, any amount greater than probably 60 seconds), but four peculiar humans had descended upon his territory; two armed with hair and makeup brushes (Blush and Coco), and two with cameras and lenses (Erika and me). But Drake was cool with it, because Madeleine and Katie were cool with it. More than cool with it, they were beaming.
Before plunging wholly into anything – love, marriage, sparkling turquoise water – one should consider the depths, or shallows, of what lurks beneath the shimmering surface. Were that advice rocket science, Krystal’s calculations would have been impeccable. But alas, rocket science has little to do with impulsive matters of the heart and soul. Particularly, when emboldened by friends, with spiked coffee kicking in, and the Caribbean sun sparkling off a tantalizing infinity pool with a narrow parapet calling out for an inverted, split-leg handstand. Krystal executed flawlessly. A perfect T of poised muscular tension, as symmetrical as planetary orbit. Athletic, gymnastic poetry. For a moment, time and gravity stood still. Of course, like the bonafide rocket scientist she is (astrobiologist turned photographer, technically), Krystal had a plan for controlled atmospheric reentry, decent, and landing. She would splashdown into the waters behind her like a reentry capsule off the shores of Cape Canaveral. What could possibly go wrong… apart from everything?
Somehow, over the course of 6 wild years and 30+ workshops on 6 continents, we’ve spawned a community of 433 (and counting) cherished workshop alumni… world class professional photographers from 35 countries on 6 continents… all of whom have trusted and shared in our 3-day workshop experience… all of whom have become part of our chosen photographic family… none of whom we’ll ever forget. The experiences we’ve shared with these spectacular humans at METANOIA (and Balls Out) workshops around the globe has inspired us beyond words, shaped us as humans, built this international community and gifted us lifelong friendships the world over. For this, we are forever grateful and always missing our friends.
After each and every workshop, we’ve had the same dream… to one day host a legendary alumni reunion in an extraordinary location. A chance to reconnect, re-inspire and celebrate with as many of these spectacular humans as possible. At long last, this year, that dream finally became a reality! Not a workshop, but a gathering of friends… an invigorating retreat… a celebration life… what transpired is hard to put into words, and perhaps best left swirling around inside our hearts and minds as feelings without words. But here are some beautiful ones that hint at the magic…
Among infinite random occurrences that conspired to bring these photos into existence, two of the more critical and obvious happened 5 years ago. First and foremost, Kelly and Leif got married at River Music Experience in Davenport, IA. Coincidentally, many miles away, Erika and I were diving into our very first wedding photography workshop… embarrassingly named Balls Out!
Its was 2014. Kelly and Leif had began their storied adventures in married life together. Erika and I unintentionally began our adventures in photography education. These two seemingly unrelated paths were just that. Until, that is, Erika and I announced our 2019 Metanoia Workshop in Bali, Indonesia. Within 2 hours, it had filled up entirely with 12 professional photographers from 7 countries on 3 continents. Kelly, a rocking Quad City wedding photographer, was one of them.
A few weeks later, we received this e-mail from Kelly:
“Hey Guys! Our 5 year wedding anniversary is March 1 & we plan to do a very informal vow renewal while in Bali for your workshop. When we got married in 2014, I had my dad do my photos and took self portraits because we were broke… so if you guys can do this, I want to do it! Date and time are totally flexible – I am thinking 2 hours or something… we only plan to read each other letters in some pretty location with portraits afterwards. Just us. 🙂 Let me know a quote or if this is even possible!!”
From the first tantalizing sip, to the last succulent drop; basking in Susan and Jo’s wedding celebration was like savouring an exquisite bottle of fine wine.
Like a big red splashing into the decanter, anticipation for the flavours and feelings of their wedding blossomed between our first Skype encounter, and finally getting to meet Susan and Jo on the morning of their wedding in Lake Louise. Arriving to their smiles and hugs was like that first glorious sip that warms you right down to your toes, authenticating all suspicions that for this particular celebration, something exceptional has been uncorked.
2018 was like a dream. 9 unique wedding celebrations, 7 sold out workshops, 4 photography festivals and one powerful little light brought us (and our kids) on a wild ride across 10 countries on 3 continents. Along the way, our lives brushed up against so many beautiful souls. We’re living a dream and this post is a tribute to that which makes it all possible… the couples and families who trust in the way we see and feel.
As photographers, we strive to create images that communicate what words cannot. And yet here I am, trying to find words to communicate what these photographs cannot. The absurdity of this paradox isn’t lost on me, but alas, you just weren’t there. Or maybe, if you’re one of the few who actually read this, you were (and so you know what I’m trying to say). But for anyone about to experience this wedding solely through these photos… you just weren’t there. You weren’t there to witness the way Dwayne melted the instant he saw Kimmi in all her jaw-dropping glory… to behold the complete and utter cuteness of their kids, Landon and Logan… to feel the salty spray of the turquoise Caribbean waters crashing around their cliffside ceremony… to feel the unbridled love between (and for) Kimmi and Dwayne… to hear what they mean to their friends and family… to experience that legendary, ganga-brownie-fuelled dance floor… with Jamaican bass in your bones… overproof rum on your lips… gyratory whining on your hips. Gratefully though, despite one hell of a commute (icy roads, international flights, layovers, delays and flat tires — yes, plural), we were there with our cameras for a poignant dose of everything we thrive off… expressive, loving humans… beautiful relationships… unrestrained celebration, and most honourably… trust.
One of the most crucial fundamentals of our adventures in wedding photography; is trust. Trust in the process. Trust in our gut. Trust from our couples. We rarely feel like hired help, we’re rarely treated as such, and our couples aren’t really clients so much as beautiful, fascinating humans who welcome us into their unique celebrations like friends with cameras. The epitome of this, was our experience at Beth and Chad’s wedding in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Beth and Chad trusted in us implicitly… not only to document their story and immortalize their memories… but to do so while beating the shit out of their very own camera gear. Beth and Chad just happen to be a world class professional wedding photography duo.