Alison and Daniel knew that they wanted a small wedding, due to COVID of course, and that they wanted to make an amazing backcountry ski adventure out of their wedding in the mountains around Lake Tahoe. The two love skiing, love the Tahoe Backcountry and love adventure in any form. When the day came for us to ascend the mountains above Incline Village for our COVID safe micro wedding, the winds were blowing so hard that the lifts at the nearby ski resorts had to shut down. The snow was mostly ice, but the sun was shining and the temperatures were tolerable given the winds. Alison and Daniel didn’t even hesitate. They went for it and then even climbed higher than the semi-sheltered site we picked to hold our impromptu ceremony and climbed nearly to the top of Rose Knob so they could get a few turns in with Lake Tahoe in the background on the way down. This Lake Tahoe winter adventure wedding was one of my favorite weddings of all time, mostly because I also love skiing in the backcountry and climbing mountains in winter. However I usually don’t do it with a couple of cameras and extra lenses on my back. Let’s just say I was able to get these photos to the couple in record time, because I was too sore to do much of anything else the next day.
These pictures nearly didn’t happen. I had been up this route the week before scouting for scenic locations that would be easy to reach. Knowing I would be hauling a heavy pack uphill, on skis, and would need to be mobile walking around taking pictures on the snow while my boots punched deep into the snow surface, I decided to bring only one camera body and a couple of lenses to save on weight. I knew the car would be at the trailhead for hours so I choose not to bring a backup camera with me this one time. Murphy’s law struck and my 2 year-old Nikon D850 died at the trailhead, giving only an ERR message on the top LCD and producing black frames. In a near panic, I called one of my many local photographer friends, Peter Spain. Peter is a former wedding photographer and Tahoe landscape photographer that I knew lived close by. Fortunately he was home and rushed me his camera to take up the mountain. I sent the group on ahead and caught up with them 20 minutes later with Peter’s camera and the wedding photos were saved!
I offer this story as a lesson in why you should always hire local, established photographers for your important events. Not only did I know a beautiful place only a few miles off the road to suggest when the couple asked about doing a wedding on skis in the backcountry, but having worked in the area for nearly 25 years, I had a lot of photographer friends I could call on in case of emergency. New policy going forward however will be to always bring a backup camera no matter how small or how remote the shoot is, NO exceptions.