My California Adventure: Ron & Jean Bennett Wedding

It was 10pm on Friday night. The wedding was set for 10am Saturday morning – 12 hours away. I had been flown to California to photograph Ron & Jean Bennett's wedding and had been spending the evening with family and friends at a pre-wedding dinner and get-together. The happy night was winding down and we were all getting ready to head back to our hotels when Ron got a phone call from the officiating pastor for the next day's festivities. 

My uncle walked across the room to me and, knowing I have been an ordained minister and pastor of two churches for the past 13 years, asked me, "What does it mean when the pastor calls the groom at 10pm the night before the wedding?" I shared with him, "Whatever it is, it's not good..."

As it turned out, the pastor had been attending a family function out of town and plans for his return had gone awry – he was stranded in the Denver airport and was not going to make it back or the wedding. Ron graciously received the news, hung up the phone, explained the situation to everyone in the room and the question began to circulate: "Where are we going to find a pastor to do the ceremony on such short notice?" Are you beginning to sense where this story is going?

I arrived at the church early the next morning with a camera around my shoulder and a notebook and bible in my hand, ready to photograph AND officiate the ceremony. Family members were enlisted to help take pictures while I was on the platform, and Patty Bennett and her son did an AMAZING job of helping fill in the photographic gaps. Ron, a Lutheran pastor himself for many years, walked me through the liturgical nuances as Lutheran is not my native tongue, and away we all went – taking pictures, saying prayers, making up a sermon on the spot and laughing a lot along the way.

Ron and Jean's wedding was special for so many reasons. The bride and groom are 81 and 76 years old. It was a gathering of friends and family old and new in the magical land of California. The photographer morphed back into a pastor in the middle of an emergency, and what seemed like bleak news the night before turned into a crazy, beautiful and unexpected adventure for all of us, making the day an utterly unique and singular celebration and expression of grace and love and finding beautiful things in unexpected places. 

I was humbled and honored to be a part of Ron and Jean's wedding day – it was an experience NONE of us will forget for the rest of our lives. Though I briefly thought about the idea of adding the "Seth Hinrichs Chapel Of Love Wedding Package" to my menu of photographic services where I dawn Elvis lamb-chops, take the pictures, do the ceremony and then perform a rendition of "Love Me Tender" by the king himself, I have decided that it would be best to leave the lamb-chops in the suitcase. Ron and Jean's wedding was as beautiful and unique as the two of them, and it was a gift to me to be a part of.

Creating A World

My name is Seth, and I like watching Downton Abby.

There. I said it. I've owned it. It's out there. You may now revoke my man-card if you'd like. But before you do, let me explain...

I like a lot of things about Downton Abby – aside from the fact that the show is essentially a British period piece version of the Young And The Restless. 

I love the cinematography. I love the look and feel of the way the show is shot. I like the music and the dramatic characters and plots and yes… I like the period-inspired sets and costumes of it all. …This isn't going well for the man-card yet, is it?

I even like the advertisements they play before and after the show.

I do a mean imitation of the guy who narrates the Viking River Cruises commercial. And the Ralph Lauren bit with all the cool cars outside the expansive, English estates; people hand-sewing vintage, leather-bound messenger bags and high-fashion pieces; the slow-mo on the catwalk strut in the crazy-manicured Engligh gardens – even the narration underneath it all – about how Ralph Lauren is an artisan perfecting his craft. "I'm creating a world," he says. "A world beyond fashion…"

He's raising people's eyes to something slower and more refined and based on the finer things in life in a world that's watching while they're scarfing down a cheeseburger from McDonald's as they take the latest Facebook survey to find out which member of the Brady Bunch their life most resembles – it's brilliant. Genius, even. Show people a world they want to live in that you have envisioned and created and that inspires them, and that they fall in love with it – even if they're not currently living in it.

So this past winter as I was watching these very ads and this very show, I had a thought… And the thought was simply this: I'd love to shoot something like that. 

Wouldn't it be fun to dress someone up in those kinds of clothes and create that kind of look and inspire that kind of old-world awesomeness through a set of portraits?

AND – wouldn't it be fun to do that not with a set of pouty, cat-walking supermodels, but with a young girl?

Kids are a lot more adept at letting their imaginations wander into different worlds than adults are, anyway – the line between the world we live in and the world we WANT TO live in is a lot blurrier for them. We lose that along the way, and it's sad that we do. That loss too often prevents us from living the lives we want to live.

What if we took the Downton Abby look and feel and vibe and translated it to a girl – dress her up and let her get into character and have fun and immerse herself in it? That might be a fun little editorial portrait session to put together, wouldn't it? I thought so...

That was the inspiration behind these portraits of my friend, Eva Johnson. I didn't have to shoot them. I wasn't' asked or hired to. I put together this styled shoot because I wanted to – because sometimes it's inspiring to let go of the routine and reach for something a little higher, finer, less base and more from a world we wish we lived in – a world that I created.

If only there were someone or something or someone that could transcend the ordinary and inspire that kind of re-creation in our real lives...

Happy Easter, everyone. 

Abbott Wedding Rave

Here's a little note I received after shooting Jay & Davina Abbott's wedding. Thanks, guys! It was a pleasure! :-) 

Seth, 

I want to thank you for the amazing pictures you captured on my wedding day. It means the world to me to have the priceless pictures you captured because I will have them to look back at for years to come! Not only did you come to my hair appointment early in the morning, you stayed late into the night as well. You made everyone feel comfortable. The whole experience was smooth and lots of fun!! I can't thank you enough!! I love my pictures and I would highly recommend your services to anyone!! 

With much appreciation,

Davina Abbott