There are many people who cross our paths in our lives. And sometimes we get to cross paths once. Twice, if we’re lucky. Some people call it serendipity. Others call it fate.
Larry and Tim rode the same San Francisco Muni bus to work in the mornings and although they saw each other on the bus, they never officially met and didn’t know each others’ name. Until… MySpace made their paths cross in a different way… when Tim’s picture randomly popped up on Larry’s screen while he was on MySpace. And before we knew it, Larry and Tim were introducing each other to their friends and family as more than friends. It was like a movie.
I’ve known Larry since high school and he’s always made school look effortless – studying minimally yet earning a fair amount of not just As, but A+s. I have no doubt he breezed through two of the nation’s top universities, even being given a leadership award from UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering. Larry, during his Engineering graduation, represented his class by giving the department a check from the class’ fundraising effort. On top of that, he received an award after graduation for the general fundraising work he did while at UC Berkeley. And in Larry’s spare time, he teaches a test preparation class. Tim’s also an academic – a PhD candidate at the time. Now that he’s got his PhD in Education, we can call him Dr. Tim. Oh and in his spare time while working on his dissertation, Dr. Tim helped start a non-profit organization, too!
I still remember when some of us were introduced to Tim at brunch one day. Seemingly not intimidated by the situation of meeting several of Larry’s friends, he was calm and cool and won our hearts. Smart, silly and stylish together with a love of food and wine and cooking, these two accomplished scholars are perfectly made for each other. It may have been serendipity that initially brought them together, but in the end it must be fate!
I was honored to be invited to celebrate their engagement at Town Hall in San Francisco last September. The dinner was held in the private dining room on the second floor.
Each table was adorned with beautiful fall inspired centerpieces made by a friend of theirs.
It felt like a wedding reception, rather than an engagement party… they sure know how to throw a party!
The evening began with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres hour and followed with a delicious three course meal:
Lemon cucumber and heirloom tomato salad, feta cheese, niÃ§oise olives, lemon vinaigrette
Tuna tartare with fried green tomato and green onion Tabasco vinaigrette
Filet mignon with potato puree, mushrooms, corn and bordelaise
Blackened Atlantic salmon with white corn mace choux, okra, red wine sauce
Campfire s’mores tart, Scharffenberger chocolate, salted caramel marshmallow, house made grahams
(Served with Blue Bottle French Press Coffee)
As close friends and family toasted to their happiness, watery eyes quickly filled the room as friends and family shared about how much Larry and Tim had touched their lives and taught a thing or two (actually several) about what it means to love.
Early in the evening, I caught this moment between mother and son.
Behind the lens: There is a little motion blur as I caught them leaning in and it was one of those split second moments in time, but I really like the moment captured (“Expression over perfection” as Bambi Cantrell would say). I was handholding at 1/60 second at 2.8 with ISO 3200 using a 50mm and was initially hesitant to push up the ISO further. More later on the challenging lighting.
And as friends and family said touching words during speeches, I was waiting for reactions and caught another special moment.
What a memorable night with friends and family!
Behind the lens: I had just bought a Canon 5D Mark II full frame DSLR and had literally opened the box for this event. I tried to look through the restaurant’s website and elsewhere to see if I could get a sense of the lighting situation since many restaurants aren’t necessarily well lit for making photographs. All photographs were taken with a 50mm without flash except for the wide shot of the dining room which was taken with the 24-105 lens. The room ended up being rather dark to shoot in and I didn’t have a flash at the time (the 5D Mark II doesn’t have built in flash and I was still trying to decide on buying a flash). I had my 50mm f/1.8 and was shooting wide open or almost wide open at an ISO of 6400 (maximum), sometimes as low as 1/10 second and sometimes creatively using the candles on the table in order to get enough light while also getting used to the new camera’s manual controls. In the early evening, I was already pushing ISO 6400, 1/60, 2.8 luckily with some window light and by nightfall, I had to push up the exposure in post processing for most photographs. I must say, though, that I am very pleased with Lightroom’s noise reduction capabilities with the 5D Mark II photographs. But after this celebration, I decided I needed to buy a flash and have since gotten one (it’s not about the gear, but the tools are useful). Also, the room had several overhead neon green exit signs which casted a less than desirable green light on people, mostly heads, who were near them.
When I give advice about buying cameras including point and shoots, I usually advise to allow for time to get used to the camera… this was good practice during a real event though I wish I had more time with the camera beforehand.