Elise and Stephen’s engagement party

Since moving to our new home and our new church, God has gifted me with the most beautiful and wonderful friend. Her name is Carla, and I am deeply thankful for her. She encourages me, she energises me, and she humbles me with her strength, her faithfulness, her generosity, her love for others, and her utter dependence on God. Serving alongside her in ministry is a true joy, and I count it a real blessing that God brought her into my life.

When Carla asked me to photograph her daughter Elise's engagement party, I was hesitant at first. I already had a 40th birthday party that day, which meant that I would be at least two hours late to the engagement. I also knew that my camera was not working properly: not only was the curtain half-stuck in the viewfinder, the manual focus (MF) mode had also stopped working. In other words, I wouldn't be able to shoot the way I normally like to shoot.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how much I wanted to capture the event for Carla and Elise. Carla and I chatted, and we decided that I would simply come when I could and leave when I had to. Easy.

On the day of the event, I arrived at 4.15pm—two hours after the party began and one hour before the sun was due to set—armed with my camera, my camera holster, one spare battery, and four memory cards.

For the next hour and a half, I raced against the sun and weaved my way in and out of the large crowd, capturing as many moments and scenes as I could before the sunlight disappeared over the horizon.

As twilight fell, I found other sources of light to light up my frames—including a golden bonfire, much to my delight.

It was so much fun.

So much fun.

But more than that, it was amazing to witness all the love and to know that I had the privilege of preserving these moments in time for Carla’s family. My guess is that this is the very reason why wedding photographers love their jobs.

At nine o’clock, I left with a tray filled with brownies, two memory cards filled with photos, and my own heart filled to the brim.

What I learnt from the party is the very same thing I teach our students in our workshops and classes: it is never too early or too late to start documenting your story. Yes, I may have arrived two hours after the celebration began, but what I managed to capture during my time at the party was still worth documenting. A snippet of a story is just as valuable as the whole story.

And this too: the best camera to use is the camera that you have and know. Despite the fact that my Fuji camera was not functioning at a hundred percent—and despite the fact that there are hundreds of other better cameras out there—it did its job because I know it well and could therefore work my way around the technical constraints.

And so friends, with Elise’s permission, I share with you here my favourite candid shots from the party. The moments between the moments, as I like to call them.

Congratulations again, Elise and Stephen! I’m so thankful I got to capture this part of your story for you. I hope these photos bring you great joy and remind you of all the love that your family and friends have for you.

And Carla—thank you for your friendship and your honesty, and for trusting me to do this.