Church Lady Ruins Ceremony Dip
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Church Lady Ruins Ceremony Dip

I titled this image F%#king Church Lady.

This story began when I suggested that this bride and groom perform a dip during their wedding recessional.

During the couple's engagement session, they exhibited exceptional skills when I asked the groom to dip the bride. That gave me the idea—an idea that I've since suggested to dozens of other couples I photographed.

The couple practiced regularly over the ensuing months so that they'd flawlessly execute the dip on their wedding day. So when their recessional began at a beachfront chapel, I knew what was about to happen. I was ready to capture the photograph.

As they began their dip, I sensed someone walking past me as I knelt at the end of the aisle. And like a nightmare, as the church lady walked past, I began to whisper "no, no, no." But my whispered words didn’t stop her.

I continued pressing the camera shutter knowing that I had to keep photographing the moment regardless of the situation. But I knew as it was happening that the bride would be terribly disappointed once she saw the photograph.

The church lady moved so quickly that the bride and groom didn’t realize that she had interrupted their "perfect" photograph. It wasn’t until their honeymoon, that the couple first saw this image.

The bride texted me that she started crying when she saw the photo. It wasn’t until later that I discovered the reason behind the church lady's interruption. Apparently, one of the guests brought a bottle of bubbles and during the recessional, had pulled out the wand and was blowing bubbles is the couple walked down the aisle.

Blowing bubbles was against chapel rules and so the church lady was walking down the aisle to stop him. If you look to the right side of the image, you can see a stocky guy in sunglasses blowing bubbles. Some of the bubbles are floating in the air in front of him.

As several years have now passed since this event , this photograph has taken on a different meaning both to me and to the couple. To me, it symbolizes the imperfection of weddings.

Even though a postcard perfect photograph didn’t happen, I know that I love this image far more for the reality it represents. As for the couple, they too look back on this moment as a unique representation of their wedding and a truly storytelling moment.

Award Winner

Since Google may penalize websites that use profanity, I reluctantly use symbol swearing (@#$%^&!) in lieu of actual profanity on this website. But when I entered this image in the Wedding and Portrait Photographer International (WPPI) Print, Album & Filmmaking Competition, I used profanity. And that caused quite a stir among the judges and the audience when it was read aloud during the judging process.

Knowing that the title would be read aloud, I chose bold verbiage that that expressed exactly how I felt when I was capturing this image. Since the competition judges are also wedding photographers, I knew that this title would resonate with them as well since almost every wedding photographer has experienced a situation where the "church lady" has negatively influenced wedding ceremony coverage.

In the judging, this photograph received a Silver Award with a score of 82. The image would’ve received a higher score if the retouching had been better executed by the retouching and printing company that I was using at the time. Unfortunately, the judges quickly identified several major retouching flaws and those problems were reflected in the score.

Because of those issues, I switched to an amazing retouching company for all of my competition prints. Capture to Print is the company and Rocco Ancorra is the guy and collectively they make the magic happen. After working closely with him through several revisions, he is responsible for the final version of the image that you see here today.