The Day The World Shut Down – Spring Fever Styled Shoot
The first word that comes to mind when I think about our styled shoot on March 16, 2020 is "apocalyptic."
After a couple uncertain weeks in early March, I decided to move forward in hosting our bright, vibrant Spring Fever styled shoot. (Yeah, I really chose "Spring Fever" as our title. Ironic, huh?) There were only going to be about 10 people attending, and we made sure to encourage hand washing and sanitizing. We had no idea what was going to unfold that day, but I'm so grateful we were able to share this last day of beautiful content and community before the world shut down.
Way back in 2019, when we were anxiously anticipating the Pantone Color of the Year announcement, my friend Nikki and I were crossing our fingers that it would be something BOLD and FUN! We dreamt of a bright yellow or bold magenta. And then... "Classic Blue." We were so disappointed. But in true Nikki and Abigail fashion we said, "Screw that!" and planned a shoot with bright colors anyway.
With so much blue and green imagery in the wedding world, I really wanted to do something different. We pulled in the yellow and magenta we had been dreaming of, and matched them up with peach and lavender too. I imagined pressed flowers, fresh florals, romantic candles, and unique details. I couldn't have been happier with how everything turned out. Our team was unbelievable.
Thinking about this day, as I write this, is making me emotional. One whole year.
As everyone arrived and we got set up, notifications were starting to roll in. Governor Hogan announced that bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and and gyms would close their doors at 5PM. Only essential businesses would remain open, like grocery stores, banks, and pharmacies. The gathering limits were quickly lowered to 50 people. Family members and friends were sending us updates and articles. And then, the wave of panicked emails from spring couples started.
Our lead photographer, Madison Short, and I were supposed to work a wedding together in April. We both got an email from the bride, and chatted about rescheduling as we shot. The next week I would write in my journal, "Covid-19 has turned the world upside down, quickly."
"Every single day of the past two weeks has felt like a year," I wrote. "Every day, huge changes are made. I feel completely and utterly swallowed by uncertainty. Last week I felt such a crazy impending sense of DOOM. I'm watching all my friends in the event industry have events dropping like flies."
It was so surreal. We continued shooting all the different vignettes - tablescape, cake table, flat lays, couple portraits - all the while checking notifications, sharing updates, and worrying together. Once we were all cleaned up for the day, I chatted with Shelby, our day-of coordinator at the venue. We were in such denial. We weren't sure where we would go from there. It was the oddest mix of accomplishment from a great shoot, and dread as I entered back into the real world.
My assistant, Sunny, had been able to attend the shoot after the schools closed down. (You know, for "two weeks," just to "deep clean." Cut to last week, when they finally switched from all online to hybrid learning.) Sunny is a part of what I call my "second family," and she urged me to spend the night at her family's house, something I did often pre-pandemic. Once we got everything back to my house, bringing in the bags of props and supplies, I packed an overnight bag and joined her back at her house.
During the shoot, I had gotten emails from four spring brides. I honestly wasn't sure what to do. How does one handle the beginning of a pandemic in the event industry? The world literally felt like it was ending. Sending an email felt so impersonal, to say the least. So I went down to the basement with my phone and laptop, pulled up each workspace for each couple, and called them.
Calling was the right move, I knew that immediately. Actually chatting with each couple over the phone, sharing in their uncertainty and dread, empathizing with what this would mean for their wedding, and subsequent life events, was humanizing, and grounding. An email couldn't have shared that kind of feeling.
I've thought back to this day a lot in the past year. We got to come together and share this one last moment of community before being isolated. Before losing half our income. Before going through an identity crisis.
I didn't unload those bags of props and supplies for several weeks. I didn't edit the video until May. I never ended up loving the edited video. In a way, I think before they were finished I had hope that I could tell this story sooner. When things were cleaned up, and fully edited. When things felt normal again. We had no idea.
I'm grateful for the story attached to this shoot, and I'm also proud of how it all turned out. This was my first shoot where I coordinated and sold a few photo tickets to be able to invest back into the shoot. It was a great test for future projects, and a total dream team of creative partners.
I can't wait to be able to safely do something like this again, with hugs this time.