Monday, February 04, 2008

Three Words I Never Like to Say on Your Wedding Day

Cold. Dismal. Bleak. = RAIN

It all started with a phone call to Mr. Wizard who is my BFF, and his wife is my substitute mother. I love playing trivia with them on my team, we always win. ALWAYS.

Back to the camera. You see, I was getting a little crackling looking thing on the edge of my pictures. Sometimes you could see it, sometimes you couldn’t. So I called Mr. Wizard. I had taken the lens off, checked it, nothing there, checked the interior mirrors, looked clear, and knew I had to look deeper.

Mr. Wizard said it was probably the camera sensor which needed to be cleaned. It was quite the delicate job, and you had to be VEEERRRYYY CAAARRREEEFFFUULL (I know when he slows his speech down for me, that I need to listen closely) He would be happy to clean it for me, if I wanted to bring it over.

No thanks, I said, I think I can do it. (mistake #1)

Ooooo. Kaaaaaaay he said slowly. Everyone has a retarded friend who you help to do what you think are the most basic things. I am his retarded friend.

I opened the camera, gently flipped back the mirror like he said and opened the shutter. The little fuzz wouldn’t move, so I blew on it. (mistake #2)

Those of you cameraphiles have now just taken in a big gasp of air, because you KNOW what I just did.

Later I looked it up in the manual and it says there in big bold words… DO NOT BLOW ON THE SENSOR BECAUSE YOU CAN DAMAGE THE SHUTTER.

In addition to getting spit on the sensor, the force of my little (big) puff of air was that I had damaged one of the very thin delicate shutter louvers ($180 U.S. to repair it… in the U.S.)

This is at 11 a.m. and I’m shooting a wedding at 2 p.m.

5 minutes later I call him back…

Mr Wizard: are you calling me back to tell me that you broke your camera?
Me: uuhhh
Mr. Wizard: tee hee (he never says I Told You SO, he just laughs at me)
Me: uuhhh, yeah.
Mr. Wizard: do you need to borrow a camera?
Me: If I could…
Mr. Wizard: cmon out.

So, I hop on the motorbike and head out. They live way to the back, on the sunset side in a very quiet neighborhood of retired Belizeans and expats who have built their island retirements homes.

On the way it starts to drizzle.


These poor (not really poor) people from America have been planning this wedding for 6 months, brought 40 family members with them. In U.S. standards a wedding with 40 people is small, for Caye Caulker standards this is big news.

Sinking feeling segues into icky in the bottom of your stomach.
“We’ll see, we’ll see,” I say to myself
“Just wait, just wait, you never know how things will turn out.” I sooth my feelings.

I arrive at Mr. Wizard’s house. He has the camera ready, and goes over the basic functions with me. I try not to be confused as he puts it into a Pelican case (with the quick start guide). And truth be told, it’s a much (way) fancier camera than my Canon EOS, it’s a Nikon something or other. I shot a wedding at their house under the 4th floor palapa rooftop a couple of years ago for them, so I’ve used the camera. That familiarization lesson seems a century ago.

I feel my pressure up as I put the pelican case into the back blue bubble looking carrier on the motorcycle.

And then it starts to P O U R.

I decide to stop at the bride’s accommodations, its two hours before the beach portraits are going to start and they aren’t going to be done today. I always leave room to reschedule the beach portraits which usually happen before the ceremony. I get to the bride’s house and she informs me with a cheerful spirit that the big sailboat that we were supposed to go on a sunset cruise after the ceremony has engine trouble and that has been cancelled also. I don’t want to tell her that my camera broke and I’ve borrowed a camera from Mr. Wizard, but somehow I blurt it out… and I feel better.

She takes it in stride, “That’s cool.” she says, “I know the pictures will look nice.”

(and I think to myself… not nice in the rain... no amount of Photoshop will be able to fix this... and I want to cry)

I head off on the motorbike taking the circumspect route of driving around giant craters temporarily filled with muddy coral sand water on airstrip road and cut over to the beach path as soon as I can get clear. I ride gently as I don't want to risk having the borrowed camera flip out of the blue carrier bubble.

I lay down on the bed at home.
No TV, no CD player blasting, windows and doors closed.
Must. Need. Quiet.
I hate being more nervous than the bride.

The ceremony starts at 4 p.m., the wind is whipping.

The rain lets up and the sun comes out for about 5 minutes. Long enough to do the ceremony shot completely with a flash, a first for me, fumbling for settings and jockeying for position amongst the guests with cameras (Oh. The. Horror). Cold. Lifeless. Nothing I can do. I can not stop the rain coming quickly and blotting out the sun.

The reception (at the Rainbow) had a lot of special touches, an attention to details that we often skip here on Caye Caulker. Real cloth tablecloths and napkins, deep turquoise glasses for drinking champagne, light turquoise sheer runners down the middle of each table, light and fresh. Little gift boxes at each place setting filled with French chocolates, low votive candles, orchids, a program tucked into a napkin. Simple, clean and elegant.

After dinner a slide show is projected from a Mac laptop onto a sheet tacked to the wall. Baby pictures, awkward adolescence, graduations, moms and dads. Its really touching to be a stranger in the midst of friends, like a voyeur into their life.

After the slide show it was time to get on down and boogie like John Travolta. They have loaded all their favorite tracks onto an ipod and hooked it up to the Rainbow's stereo system, and it works flawless.

I left at 10 p.m., out of shots, tired, cold and wet. I spent the next day in bed. Achy, trying not to get sick.

Every day for the next 4 days we check the satellite. Every day, every day, all day rain. I know I can’t deliver cold lifeless photos or I’ll need to refund back some of their money. The internet is a tool and a weapon. One bad recommendation and it could finish you here in such a small place. I love and fear the internet.

The morning of the day they were to leave, the weather cleared and we did it! Crisp clear sparkly pictures. An hour on the beach netted 20 ooo-sha-boo-boo lalalalalalala pictures.



Hayden said...

They really look great!

Caribbean Colors said...

Thanks Hayden!

Anonymous said...

The pictures look great and the story is too funny! It was great to see you again. Thanks for the babysitting advice!
Christie (and Dan)

Caribbean Colors said...

Hi Christie, it looks like your babysitter operates on island time.
Belize City time is where you arrive for your appointment with the same hour as yout appointment.
San Ignacio (country) time is where you arrive for your appointment on the same day as your appointment.
Caye Caulker (island) Time is where you arrive in the same week as your appointment.