It's late August, and while the cicadas are still humming, the mosquitoes have all but vanished for the season, leaving the warm evening air undisturbed. We're in Ron Telpner's back yard. Ron owns the advertising agency I used to work at, and volunteered to help us with a location. I know he's got a nice little in-ground pool, but I had forgotten about the lush vines growing up the wooden fence surrounding it. There's something intimate, almost cozy about the setting, even though it's outdoors. It's perfect.

I want to get started early, maybe 4:00 pm. I know the sun is setting earlier now, and I'd love to use the last rays to complement the lighting pack I've brought, maybe as a hair light. But  traffic on Bathurst, unexpectedly heavy due to some accident somewhere farther up, sets us back. By the time I've set up our first area and lit it appropriately, the sun is too low, hidden behind the trees that edge this yard and the next. No matter. I have enough light to fake the sun.
We're all here to build our respective portfolios. In fact, it was the makeup artist's idea to do this shoot. She wants to extend her business by offering bridal makeup and hair services; these shots should look fantastic on her website.

I know nobody's getting paid for this, but I still feel like I should make an effort to thank the people involved. I've brought wine for Ron and for Lyuba, our model. There's a bit of an awkward moment when I present the bottle to Lyuba; she looks at me askance, thinking I want her to drink it there and then. When I assure her that I have no intention of getting her drunk for the shoot, she relaxes, and we all have a bit of a laugh. It goes smoothly after that.
Lyuba is perfect in the dress. She jokes about what her boyfriend is going to think of her in wedding attire. Like most models I've worked with, she's much more ordinary and down-to-earth than the ones you see depicted on TV and in movies. She shows me pictures of her cat, and promises to look me up on Facebook. I promise to do my best to make her look gorgeous. It's an easy promise to keep.
It's late in the day now, and even the sky glow is fading fast. I want to try one last thing, so we switch up locations, moving to the other side of the pool where I boom a large soft box dangerously out over the water. There's no time left for finessing the light, and I just go for it. I can feel we're beginning to overstay our welcome, so I shoot fast, getting as many poses in as I can, concentrating on the emotion, the ebb and flow of the garment, her hair, the way the light trickles across her skin. Somehow, it works, even better than I had hoped.

Shoots like this are magical, yet ephemeral. A round of thanks, promises to remain in touch. Then we gather our gear in the deepening gloom, say our goodbyes and quietly slip away into the shadows.