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A Wife’s Blessing – How to Get Approval to Take Lots of Photographs

We all know that taking the perfect shot is more than a combination of good equipment, a great subject, and strong composition. An excellent shot often takes patience while waiting for a scene to set up and the light to be ideal. The time spent watching shadows grow, light warm, or dusk to fall may take the fortitude of an ultra marathoner.  That same time can be monotonously painful for a non photographer. I can’t count how many of my photographer friend’s wives cringe when they see their husbands pull out the camera gear during a vacation. Frankly, I don’t really blame them. While I enjoy the time setting up a shot, I can relate to the restlessness it causes to those around me.  So, how did I tackle this problem? For years I traveled alone or with other friends interested in photography. This becomes impractical once you get married. That is, at least, if you love spending time with your wife. I fall into the latter category, and while my wife Jennifer is very patient and enjoys the outdoors, I do recognize there is a limit to what one should expect a non-photographer to endure.

My solution is simple. I make my wife the subject of my photography. Documenting your wife and preserving her beauty for eternity is difficult to meet without enthusiasm. Starting with our marriage on Easter Island , I have photographed Jennifer in her wonderfully versatile Maggie Sottero dress all around the world. It’s a project we call, One Dress, One Woman, One World. Sometimes, she is front and center in the foreground, and other times it’s like a game of “Where’s Waldo,” with her figure appearing as a white spec engulfed in expansive landscape. Either way, it adds freshness to my photographs that didn’t exist before.

Hiking near the Matterhorn - One Dress, One Woman, One World   Hiking the Routeburn Trek - One Dress, One Woman, One World

As we travel, so does the dress. It goes almost everywhere with us. It’s become a lively game between us to think up new and inventive shots. Having a creative and fortunately brave wife really helps. Occasionally, during our travels, we will both catch something out of the corner of our eye and quickly roll into wedding dress mode. If it’s a fun in-the-moment shot, we usually go for it with the light we have. Other times, when it’s a more technical shoot, I try to reduce the time she has to spend in the dress, not to mention the hours of waiting. Normally, I scope out a locale, the appropriate light, and composition ahead of time. With proper planning, the time spent putting on the dress, shooting the photographs, and returning to casual attire can be less than 45 minutes. Of course, this is because my wife is highly skilled at slipping in and out of her dress in the most bizarre places without indecent exposure! Sadly, recently after a nine hour drive to San Francisco we waited in the car for two hours for the light to peak. Then we had to endure a drunk partier hurling over the rail while we waited. Not the best way to set a mood for a shot.

While everyone has their limits, we’ve struck a great balance and are both extremely happy with the collection of photographs created so far. What is really important to me is that they are our creation. When I show them off, or she does, it’s about us and not just me. I find it far more rewarding then the photographs I took before.  While it makes it easier to justify spending money on additional camera equipment, the more important perk is that our project scores me points with my mother-in-law. Although, she is a little biased toward the close up shots, she is very grateful for any photograph of her daughter.

Antelope Canyon - One Dress, One Woman, One World

We plan to continue the project for a few years and already have hit four continents with my wife donning the dress 39 times in a little over a year.  Future trips include a trip to the Egyptian pyramids, treks through New Zealand, and the eastern seaboard. That will cover every continent but Antarctica. I haven’t decided yet if I am manipulative enough to convince her to slip on the dress in that harsh of a climate! Time will tell and since she’s a part of it, it will be time that I have.