Sunday, July 26, 2009

Goodbye Matthew

Matthew Humphreys
I have waited many weeks to write this blog entry about Matthew, who recently passed away on July 2nd, by his own hands. I think that my brain needed some time to process the events that I foresaw as inevitable. Matthew was always kind to me, straight to the point and real no-b.s. kind of guy. My comments in this entry will be the same. They are not meant to upset anyone.

I met Matthew many years ago through my coworker, Lisa, who would later become his wife. Some just seem to have the "it" factor, and Matthew was one of those people. Handsome, energetic and charismatic, he made quite an impression on me. I worked for him in a professional manner building many web sites for his businesses and personal endeavors in music. If you are interested, you can hear the music that he wrote on his web site: The songs will give you a glimpse into his psyche and talent that he had.

One day he approached me with a special project that he had in mind. He confessed to me that he had been living with severe chronic pain for many years. Matthew suffered from Fibro Mialgia, a misunderstood medical condition, and it had taken its toll on his vibrant spirit.

At first, Matthew was private about his condition, and many people to this day do not know the agony that he was going through. He wanted to document the pain and suffering of his condition for the world to see, and I felt privileged to be let into his private world.

We called the photos the "Pain" series and we shot them one weekend when nobody was around. When I began to take the photos, Matthew went into a what can be described as a trance of grace. The look on his face was of one carrying a huge burden, but also one begging God for mercy from his suffering. Whatever happened, I kept clicking away. Then he came out of the fog and he was normal Matthew again. You can see the "pain" photos here.

I had originally thought that the photos would be some sort of creative therapy for Matthew, but I started to suspect something darker when I found out that he had not told his wife of the photo shoot. Lisa is a good friend of mine and this put me in a awkward position between a man and wife. I don't like to be the keeper of secrets, and I felt like Matthew would share the photos with her in his own time.

From comments made after the session, I suspected that Matthew had suicidal tendencies so I kept the photos from him for months until I ran out of excuses. I did not want to be part of his self destruction.

The story does not have a happy ending. Some of the photos were used in a emailed suicide note to the world. And though, family and friends prevented the first attempt, they could not stop the final event.

I pass no judgment on Matthew or his actions. Life is complicated and nobody can imagine what his world must have been like. I choose to remember Matthew as a man of humor and grace who always treated decently... and one who let me see into his private world for one brief glimpse.

Engagement Photos in Piedmont Park, Atlanta

Matt & Gtrace Engagement Gallery, Piedmont Park Atlanta
I have wanted to photograph Grace ever since I met her many years ago at a party. She has a million dollar smile, beautiful skin and a great personality. Now that she is engaged to Matt, it's like getting a 2-for-1 deal. They look so happy together and make a great looking pair.

Matt & Gtrace Engagement Gallery, Piedmont Park AtlantaWe had originally planned to shoot their engagement photos in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, but I was told that I would be charged $150 to shoot professionally on the grounds. That would not do for any of us, and Piedmont Park is right next door. Nature blessed us with a gloriously cool day and beautiful light.

I told them that 2 people in love cannot hide that from my camera. Check out their engagement photo gallery to judge for yourself.

Approaching Strangers in Piedmont Park

I'm not going to lie... approaching total strangers to take their photo, may not always be the best approach to getting the shot. But if you are in Piedmont Park on a breezy summer day with nothing better to do with a monster camera in your hands, the idea starts to look like a good one. This couple looked so beautiful together that I almost felt like not intruding. They agreed to have their photo taken and bam, bam, bam the session was over in less than a minute.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Last Minute Wedding in Virginia

The whole adventure started with a call from my college buddy, Tony. "Guess what? he said. "I'm getting married." Of course I knew hell must have been freezing over because Tony seemed to be the perpetual bachelor, but "it" was finally going to happen. Then he tells me the punchline... the wedding was going to happen 1 week from the day of the call. They had just decided a week before to get hitched and that it was going to be "just family" since their budget was so tight.

I found a loophole by offering to fly into Charlottesville to shoot their wedding. This way he gets a photographer, and I get to see an event that I thought might never happen. I just could not pass up the opportunity. And technically, I am family.

I am glad that I did too. The day was filled with warm and friendly folks. The weather was perfect, and the house where they had the ceremony was beautiful. His bride, Marilynn was the perfect hostess and I had a great time photographing the event. I wish them years of happiness together. Check out the galleries below: