In the photograph above, Michi’s father is about to see his beautiful daughter in her wedding dress for the first time.
But I owe you some explanation. Petaluma’s nestled in a valley about 40 minutes north of San Francisco. Next time you’re there, get off the freeway, find D street, and take it in the direction of the sunset. In March, April, and November, you’ll crest hills of green. You’ll see cyclists on tour, picnicking families, and picnicking black-and-white cows. You’ll be certain, if it’s your first time, that the Pacific ocean lurks in the next valley, and then maybe the next, or the next, just behind one of those dairies, maybe. And as if by magic, you’re suddenly descending to a cheese factory, a vibrant backdrop that I visited countless times as a child. It never occurred to me that weddings could be held there. But it was precisely for that reason a few weeks ago that I found myself hiding a tear behind my camera as Mr. Adams approached the tent where his daughter had just finished putting on her wedding dress. The sky promised rain in the most comforting of ways; perhaps to reassure the wedding guests that the greenest of grass would continue to grow at this particular venue; or as if the sea itself, just a couple of miles away, had a kind of dominion over the first few valleys from the coast.
This is only one of several photos I took of Michi with her dad that day. I have featured this one here because of the way he is beaming. It speaks of the youthful optimism that I have seen before on the faces of parents. At weddings, there is frequently a moment between parent and bride- or groom-to-be that shows a trusting lightness of being. It’s love in a glance. At this wedding, that moment happened under a soft golden sky, with Michi and one of her close bridesmaids in the foreground. I hope to be there to photograph it many more times in my career. Thanks for looking!