Like I mentioned in last week’s Thankful Thursday post, I couldn’t have done Kim & Mike’s wedding in 2008 without the help of a second shooter. When Gerard told his best friend, Nathan, that I’d officially been hired to do a wedding, he jumped in to offer assistance as an excuse to hang out with his best friend.

Nathan is probably one of the most secure people I’ve ever met. The phrase, “Marches to the beat of his own drum” actually rings true for this band and orchestra director by day and French horn performer by night. (And photographer by late night.) Nathan convinced Gerard to join choir their sophomore year of high school and somehow that transformed into such a love of music that Gerard now does it to provide for our family. Nathan lives roughly 30 minutes from my parents in California and since we usually hang out with him while we’re there, it was only natural that he travel to Iowa to visit us (and then drive to Wisconsin with us) to photograph Kim & Mike’s nuptials.

To do some research before we traveled, he

introduced me to a photographer who has become one of my favorites to follow online-

Jasmine Star

. And this introduction to her blog, led me to viewing an incredible online course from creativeLIVE when she photographed an

entire wedding live

. This later experience in 2010 taught me how to shoot everything manually, totally turning what I knew about my camera on its head and making me so much better for it.

But, I digress. This definitely wasn’t Nathan’s first go-round on the wedding photographer wagon and he guided me gently, offering suggestions and teaching me about the best lighting. I didn’t even know the term “buttery light” until he offered it to me on a silver platter for the photos I posted last week of Kim & Mike.  Not only did he lend his expertise but he offered me all of his equipment for use as well to help with family photos (Remember, I still had only a kit lens at the time!) and he edited all of his own images post-wedding day. What a champ.

Nathan’s sense of humor kept things light the entire weekend despite my stress level as is witnessed by this extra shoot that Nathan did with Gerard during the rehearsal in the organ loft:

And during the rehearsal dinner:

And after we’d used the “buttery light” for Kim & Mike, while guests ate dinner, he used the buttery light on us for our Christmas card that year:

This photo session is a stark contrast to how I was actually feeling physically at the time. Kim & Mike’s wedding was a mere 2 weeks after my

first car accident

and even if I’d had more than my kit lens, I probably couldn’t have carried it around. The road trip drive to Wisconsin had been brutal to my back and though Kim had been a gracious host, and I truly appreciated the air mattress provided us, my back did not. It didn't really appreciate anything at that point-no kind of touch was welcome. No hugs, no massages, only ice packs. But, somehow, Nathan was still able to pull smiles out of me that weekend and he can make Gerard laugh like no one else on earth. This not only attests to his skills as a photographer, but as a friend who helps you smile and see the good in life, even when you’re literally broken inside wondering if you'll ever recover.

So, Nathan, THANK YOU. Not just for teaching me about wedding photography and how to roll with the punches of a wedding day. But defining “buttery light”, making me smile, and even laugh, despite pain, for being a hero to my husband and helping him climb mountains whilst remembering: if a 6 year old girl with a Barbie helmet on can do Mt. Whitney, so can he.

(Taken with a phone's camera: Chris, Nathan, Mark & Gerard from L to R on top of Mt. Whitney)