• July 13, 2024

The Quince

In March this year we moved our boat from the north basin to the south basin moorage at the Port of Skagit Marina in LaConner.  The south basin is closer to town and close to the Swinomish Yacht Club building. We do not belong to the yacht club, not yacht anyway.

The clubhouse, which resembles more of a dentist’s office than some kind of Thurston Howell the Third hang out, is usually rented out on the weekends; most of the parties are mainly quinceaneras, which are the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday. The quinces are generally quite jubilant and highly decorative events, I’ve been hoping to photograph one ever since we’ve had the boat there and have only been able to watch from the dock.

For the past year and a half, my husband and I have been trying to find our fit in this Skagit community. We have a comfortable boat there where we can stay for a few days at a time and we set up a mailbox at the Tillinghast Business Center. A mailbox we never get mail in. Possibly because I can’t remember the address.  Anyway, last week, I was just hell-bent on getting something delivered to that box. Lucy, the business owner there, told me that she receives Amazon deliveries all the time for her customers.

That’s it, I thought, as I placed an Amazon order knowing we’d be in LaConner that Friday and thinking that it would be super cool to walk to the mailbox place and actually have something to get. Something I’ve really wanted for a couple years, too.

I was bound and determined to accomplish this mission.

Sometimes I’ll put ads on Craigslist to spur work in the area when I’ll be there, but no calls this time. However, I somehow felt that this trip I was going to be working but I had no idea on what. I brought more gear than usual: three lenses, a soft box and the light stand. Mike, my husband, must’ve thought I’d gone off the deep end packing all that stuff for an overnighter with no job lined up.

Friday afternoon in LaConner, while sitting in Kim’s coffee shop, Stompin’ Grounds, working on my laptop, the little alert message popped up from Tillinghast Postal, “You have a package waiting for you at the business center!”  

My little over-caffeinated heart hiccuped in my chest with excitement. My inner voice shrieked, “My new flash! It’s here!”

I quickly wrapped up my work, forgetting my glasses and workbook on the counter, I nearly skip across the street to Tillinghast. When I got through the door, Miss Lucy had already seen me coming (how could she miss me, right?) and had the package ready to hand to me.

When I got back to the boat, I immediately I unpacked the box and as I did my mind formulated my first shoot. I had the perfect plan to test it out. 

We had talked about going to Taylor Shellfish farm on Saturday, and although it really stinks up the boat to make mussels, I really want to test this flash and Taylor’s would be the perfect setting.

The objective of this flash is high speed in bright light (now I know what half of you are thinking right now, bight light? Why do you need a flash, what?)

Taylor’s is just up Chuckanut Drive, down on the water, blindingly bright at noon. If you’ve ever taken a photograph on a bright, sunny waterfront, you are no doubt familiar with the classic “silhouette” look or sorely disappointed with the background going dark when you try to light your subject.

I set up my gear. I either looked like a complete nut job or a highly trained professional with this setup when the rest of the world was holding up their perfectly metered cellphones and taking selfies.  My husband and top model, stood with his back to the water facing me. My camera sat on a tripod set on “timer.” First I put the focus point on Mike, then hit the shutter button which sets off the timer. As it beeped, I took my new light-on-a-stick and held it over pointing down 90º toward him. After the 10 seconds, the timer opened the shutter, which triggered the remote to signal the flash. Poof! It worked beautifully. Ah, delight!

So there I was, at the shellfish farm, happy as a clam.

taylor shellfish farm Happy as a clam, right here.

We got back to the boat with our mussels and I noticed over at the clubhouse there were folks unloading for a quinceanera party. Still excited about my incredible new flash, I hustled over and asked if they needed a photographer for the event.

They did not need me. 

The quinceanera girl’s father told me his niece was a professional photographer and she would be taking the pictures.

I started to walk away but I kept thinking, I know I’m supposed to be here.

I went back and asked for the father again, “Sir, I have never seen a quinceanera entirely. May I speak with your niece when she gets here to see if she wouldn’t mind if I came and photographed a little as well?”   He agreed, “She will be here after 3pm.”  

That gave me 25 minutes, enough time to run back to the boat and put on the best clothes I had brought (which were really not all that nice but I had to make an attempt).

I went back at 3:30 (didn’t want to look too anxious) and easily identified the photographer (she was the one with the camera and the fancy boots). Her name was Gabby, a sweet lady and incredibly pretty. She probably thought I was off my rocker asking to second shoot this quinceanera, me in my psychedelic bell bottom yoga pants and 3 day old hair. But quinceaneras, they can be quite the elaborate occasion.  And it definitely was. It felt like a fantasy play, mimicking the feelings of a young girl’s dream of her wedding day.

The Quinceanera dances are indeed meant to show beauty and gracefulness.

I have to admit, when she and and father danced, I couldn’t hold in my tears. It was lovely.

Yes, in fact, Gabby was doing just fine without me but allowing me to photograph the quinceanera with her was a blessing for me and maybe somewhat for her as well because that morning, Gabby’s camera was not working! She had made a trip all the way down to Seattle from Mt. Vernon (and back) to pick up a rental from Glazer’s Cameras. She was clearly frustrated with having to use a rental and the light was going away quickly. I told her about my off-camera flash and of course hoped I’d get to use it. She said, “YES! Get it, please!” And so I skipped off to get my flash and we got some fantastic pictures.

Click over to my gallery to view more images from this beautiful family event, GALLERY LINK CLICK HERE

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