Secret Garden Restaurant Grandfather
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Secret Garden Restaurant Grandfather

I captured this photograph almost a decade ago at the Secret Garden Restaurant in Moorpark.

And I remember this moment most clearly. It was a relatively small wedding, and there was a tiny dance floor set up in the far back corner of the property. I remember being very tired after having photographed this event. I was nearing the end of my coverage and had less than 10 minutes to go when I captured this sequence of photographs. The images aren't particularly artful but they tell a powerful story. 

This is the bride's grandfather dancing with his wife. You can see from his movement and the expression on his face the joy of the moment and the great time he was having during this reception. As a judge for the WPPI Print, Album & Filmmaking Competition, I often say that emotion trumps technical perfection. In that case is proven here.

Several years after this wedding, I suddenly saw several print orders come through from this wedding. That was unusual, since most orders come within just a month or so of me first releasing the photographs. When I checked to see what photographs were ordered, I saw that they were all photographs of this grandfather. It didn't take much imagination for me to realize that this man had passed on and that his family members were purchasing visual mementos. I was touched to see that in addition to several other portraits that I've made of this man, every order included at least one photograph from this particular sequence. Although I can't be certain, I like to think that means that in some way I was able to capture some essence of this man in my photography and thus leave something to share with his loved ones.

Secret Garden Restaurant is located in Moorpark, California. Phone: (805) 552-9523. Website:

Location: 255 E High St, Moorpark, CA 93021.

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