Steamboat Springs, CO - During a wedding photo consultation a few months ago, the bride turned to me and said, “So, I have this picture of a couple in a boat…do you take custom requests?”
I like custom requests and I like challenges. She took out her phone and showed me a picture of a couple in a boat, on the water, with the groom passionately kissing his bride as she was lying back in the wooden boat.
“I love it,” I said. “Let’s recreate it!”
“You have a boat?” she replied inquisitively and somewhat surprised.
“Not yet,” I smiled.
That meeting was in early spring. Their wedding was scheduled for October and our full-day pre-wedding photoshoot would be a few weeks prior to it. I have never bought or owned a boat, so I had my work cut out for me. After a few months of searching, reading and learning about old wooden boats, I found the perfect one in Pueblo, Colorado. The design of the boat is called a Cosine Wherry, and this one was hand-built in 1982. It came with the original plans and a note from its builder, Steve Martin (no relation to the comedian). In his letter, he wrote, “When not on the water, this boat is a showpiece!”
I don't know how many owners it went through until it ended up in my hands, but when I picked it up, 41 years after he built it, the boat was in decent shape but I realized this masterpiece would need some elbow grease if it were to be returned to its original glory.
Refinishing a boat when you know what you are doing is hard work. Taking on the same task without knowing what you are doing is both hard work and sometimes extremely frustrating. Motivated by the dream of photography, I sanded, epoxied and fiberglassed…over and over again. The one picture that the bride had shown me spawned a dozen ideas.
In the end, I had to strip off a layer of fiberglass and add another back on…only to find out I used the wrong fiberglass and had to strip off my own work. Once I put the correct fiberglass on, it was followed by some marine varnish, which after watching it dry for a week and turn cloudy, I found out the can I bought was so old it had gone bad. Back to sanding again.
After two more coats of marine varnish – this time from cans that hadn’t gone bad – sanding in between each one and then a coat of high gloss varnish and the boat had its luster back. Then, I rebuilt the old seats to ensure they didn’t collapse under the weight of two people and we made a custom decal for the wedding couple.
Two solid months of work later, the boat was completed one week prior to our scheduled pre-wedding picture day. We only had time to do one test run on the lake to figure out how to position the boat, where to place the cameras, lights, fans (to blow the dress up, of course), and how to keep the bride and groom in the boat and not in the water.
The day of the photoshoot came, and though I did not get sunny skies as I had hoped, we did manage to get the boat on the water and take numerous stunning photos, including the one she dreamed of, along with a few others that I put together. Also added to their collection is one that is a high-resolution panorama that can be printed to over 8-feet wide without losing resolution, and another where the groom is rowing the boat toward the bride as she waits on the opposite shore.
And what became of the boat? It’s now part of our permanent collection of props and has already been used in another wedding photo shoot. It was a lot of hard work, but I'm so glad that I took the challenge.
Walker and Son Photography, based in Steamboat Springs, provides a large variety of photography services including wedding, portrait, business, product, real estate, landscape, and special mission photography. Carl and his son Brandon are experienced photographers with a gift for being able to get genuine smiles from clients of all ages. They believe that natural light is great, but even greater when paired with off-camera flashes, top-of-line Nikkor lenses, and Nikon cameras. They are continually challenging themselves to create powerful, dynamic and stunning images that their clients will love.
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