I moved the Southern California in November of 2013. In March of 2013, I visited California just to make sure I liked it, and that it felt "livable" [see: California Love]. It was, of course, and I made the move. But during that week-long visit in March, I stopped by to see some family. Stay with me on the family tree... my mother -----> her mother, my grandmother's ------> uncle lived in Los Angeles for many years. That would make him my great granduncle. Namon Holley: what a cheerful soul and a great man, may he rest in peace. He had been married to his wife, my Aunt Ozzi, for many many years. I remember them from when I was very very little, always loving and welcoming.
When I arrived in Los Angeles, I would stop by to see my Uncle Namon and Aunt Ozzi from time to time. I ended going over to their house for an early Christmas dinner. At this dinner I met even more family. My Aunt Ozzi has a cousin, and her cousin's sons, Marcus and Brenton, were relatively close to me in age. I hit it off with them and their wives, Melissa and Janie, respectively.
At that dinner, after talking about my work in photography, my cousin, Marcus, let me know that he and his wife, Melissa owned a visual production studio in Signal Hill, CA: Asset Media Group. Too cool. We eventually would collaborate on a couple of projects and it was always great fun.
It was really comforting to know I had family in the area and it was wonderful to connect with them from time to time. In the middle of 2015, I learned that Janie and Brenton were expecting their first child. They asked if I would be willing to photograph the baby shower. I'm a little foggy on this detail, but I believe it was Janie's cousin (maybe) that lived in a nice apartment complex in Redondo Beach, CA, and she was very willing to host the shower in the complex's rec room. Friends and family gathered and it was an extraordinary time.
My cousin, Marcus Guy, doing what he does best...
Small take home gifts were given to the baby games winners...
I've been to and photographed a couple of baby showers in the past (see below) and it's always fun to see the games that are played, but I have never seen anything like this. A couple of men at the party took part of "Drink the Bottle." No other previous shower had this game. Such fierce competition. I'm not a parent yet, but right before the game I learned that there are different "sizes" or "gauges" to baby bottles, which makes sense; as the baby grows it can handle drinking more liquid, so the bottle opening needs to be larger. Apparently the bottles they were using for the game were the very smallest size because this game took a good 15-20 minutes. The craziest part is that the whole party was into it for the whole 20 minutes! They were cheering the guys on, looking to see who was cheating (there was a little cheating going on)...it was pretty exciting:
My cousins are hilarious. On the left, Marcus and Melissa Guy, again owners of Asset Media Group in Signal Hill, CA, were a little bit in work mode for the shower. Marcus was recording video and testimonies from all of the guests as a nice momento to remember the event. Towards the end of the shower, they posed pretending to interview Janie and Brenton (right) about their thoughts and feelings on their upcoming parenthood:
Congratulations to the happy parents to be. Their prince, Cayden Ammon, arrived 3 weeks after this day on August 20th, 2015. I've met him and he is incredible.
I'll end on an unrelated thought/note. There was a "throwaway" shot that I captured early on at the event. I never met the little boy formally, or got his name, but someone's son, grandson, nephew, maybe all of the above, was sitting by the pool, alone for a quick moment, and I captured it.
There was something about that image and moment that spoke to me. The old adage, "a picture is worth 1000 words..." came to mind, but something stirred in me about the image of him and his solitude; I felt like an entire full-length feature could be wrapped around that image. It looked like a story. It felt like a single frame from a movie. Maybe I just saw my own abandonment issues in the image, something about being alone and not mature (let's not pull at those threads...) but I connected with him and that moment. Maybe it's nothing, or maybe I'll return to this image and create a script around it someday...