I knew that Laura and Terry’s wedding would be different. Both are outdoors people: they kayak, canoe, camp, rockclimb, and more! But, it was even more unique than I had imagined.

Laura and Terry were married in a simple and fun outdoors event on the banks of the New River in West Virginia. Once all the congratulations were over and the guests were fed, we all piled in four whitewater river rafts to plunge down the upper and lower parts of the river… and there is at least one class 5 rapid in the lower section!

For the wedding photographer (me) this presents some unique challenges, not the least of which is that I’ve never been in a whitewater river raft before. They gave me a paddle and we put my camera gear (in drybags) on the floor of a three-man raft.

The idea was that we’d paddle like crazy (smaller rafts are faster) to get to the next set of rapids. Then, land, set up the cameras, photograph everyone else going by, pack up the gear, get back in the raft, and paddle hard to get to the next rapids before the other rafts. It pretty much worked that way in practice and, I tell you, I don’t think I’ve exercised that hard in a long, long time.

The minister was the experienced white-water rafter in our boat. He sat at the back steering and barking out orders to my fellow beginner paddler — I truly did feel that God was our co-pilot through the rapids, especially when the minister fell out and the two newbies stayed in and kept paddling!

The images we got from the day were spectacular. Between Laura and Terry shooting the rapids in their wedding clothes and jumping off cliffs into the river together, there was lots to photograph and everyone had a blast!

In the evening, everyone assembled for a more traditional reception and cake cutting to round out the day. And, in this age of digital, we already had many of the day’s images at a state where we could show them from our laptop to the assembled guests.

Great day, great couple, and a fabulous introduction to white water. If you haven’t already done it, you HAVE to try!

Derek’s photography is terrific, but that’s only part of it. I told him that I wanted pictures of everyone at the wedding rather than formal shots, and I swear, there was not one person left out. Derek was there at our whitewater wedding for pictures before, during and, to his surprise, on the water between the wedding and reception. We gave him a dry bag for the camera, and sent him down ahead of everyone in the smaller raft. One thing I particularly liked about working with Derek was that he listened to me. He asked me what I wanted, I told him, and that’s what I got. I have shown the wedding book to all our friends, many of them recently married, and they are all awed by the quality of the printing, but especially the quality of the photography. I think they’re jealous. В – Laura

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