First the wedding, lawsuit to follow?

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Bruce Patterson

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Some where on the Third Planet from Sol, Milky Way
html version with photos: http://www.americancybercafe.net/newsletters/The_Wedding.html

Along with the rest of the wedding party, including my 84 year old father, I stood at the altar of the historic S?o Sebasti?o Church (Igreja de S?o Sebasti?o) just across the plaza from the famous Theato Amazonas, anxiously awaiting the entry of the bride. It was the evening of July 9, 2005.

The wedding got a late start due to some unexpected problems. First, the singer got in an auto accident and didn't show up. The organist couldn't access the organ because it was locked and even the priest didn't have a key. What was looking to be a wedding without music was saved by bringing in an electronic keyboard and plugging it into the church PA system, which, fortunately was not locked up. The bride and her father stood outside the church in the famous Amazon heat for more than 30 minutes.

After what seemed like eternity, the 20 foot tall front doors of the church opened, and accompanied by our improvised music system the bride entered on the arm of her father. I have never seen a more spectacular sight in my life. I have always referred to S?nia as "S?nia Regia de Amaz?nia" (S?nia, Queen of the Amazon), and nobody looked more like a queen than she did that night. I felt like I was in the middle of a fairy tale.

Prior to arriving in Brazil for the wedding, I had purchased the house that contains my business, Amaz?nia Banda Larga, and it's subsidiary, The American Cybercaf? of Manaus, and we turned the back part of the building into our residence, while the front contains the office and cybercaf?. The day I arrived in Manaus, July 1, we had a civil ceremony with a Judge in the ABL office, then we spent the next two days attending a course for Brides and Grooms at the Church in the Manaus Parish where S?nia lived before the wedding.

After church ceremony, we were put in a horse and carriage and had our picture taken in front of the Theatro Amazonas--a spectacular view. Then we were driven to the Da Vinci Hotel for our wedding banquet in the Michaelangelo Room. After my father introduced himself and gave a short speech and pronounced the blessing on our marriage and our first meal, the guests shared a few wonderful hours of fellowship, dining, and dancing accompanied by our six piece orchestra.

The evening was an unqualified success, and spectacular is perhaps too modest a word.

Then we had to face the real world.

Prior to my arrival in Manaus, S?nia had flown to Brasilia (the capitol) and applied at the US Embassy for a tourist visa. We had tickets on a flight to Houston on July 12th, and intended to make our honeymoon either on the coast of Texas, or somewhere in the Caribbean, perhaps the Bahamas or Cayman Islands. The plan then was for her to accompany me back to work and travel with me in my job for a while then travel with me on Labor Day weekend to the west coast to attend the celebration of my dad's 85th birthday and 50 years of ministry with the Quinault Indians. We planned then to return to Brazil in November to start the immigration process.

Her tourist visa was categorically denied. A one hour telephone conversation with the consul at the embassy convinced me that further attempts to get a tourist visa would be fruitless. So we gave up on this attempt and I extended my stay in Manaus and canceled the honeymoon. We used our extra time there to set up our residence, resolve problems with the startup of our business, and to start the immigration process.

An immigration application takes anywhere from two to six months, depending on the whim of the US Consul in Rio. We are currently separated by 3500 miles (as the crow flies).

Just before leaving, I went to the photography studio to get our wedding pictures, but they weren't ready and they gave us a basket load of excuses--as it turns out, all lies! This week I got the news through my wife that all of the wedding pictures are "missing." Supposedly the store was robbed and our wedding pictures were among the stolen items. I don't believe it for one second!

Meanwhile, they are asking for a private meeting with my wife to make her some kind of offer. They are offering to re-stage the wedding at their expense, an idea that my Father and I think is preposterous. We would both have to fly back to Brazil, her parents would have to be brought back to Manaus (a two day boat ride), the church and the hotel, along with the orchestra would have to be rehired and much more. And how can you re-stage a magic moment?

We have a few photos that were taken at the dinner with my Nikon D70 (in RAW format) by the nephew of my best man. They are OK, but certainly not professional quality. Additionally, I bought 9 disposable cameras which were strategically left on the tables for the guests to use. For those who figured out how to work the flash, even some of those weren't too bad. But I don't think we have hardly any photos from the church ceremony. We are facing the reality that we are going to be the rest of our lives without any photographic record of the most significant event in our lives.

The studio is the largest in Manaus, a city of almost 2 million, and they are scared of a lawsuit. That's why they are trying to get S?nia alone and try to get some agreement out of her. I refused to let her attend a meeting with them without a lawyer present, which is being arranged. They are about to find out that I am not just some tourist who came to Manaus and got married, but a homeowner and businessman in Manaus with a very large law firm at my disposal. Will there be a lawsuit? I don't know yet. It depends on what they offer us.

I have assured my bride that the most important thing in my life is her, and though we may lose many material things in this life, we will never lose each other. Mementos are wonderful, but she herself is the best memento I will ever have.

However, losing the photos is still very significant and a great loss. I don't know how much monetary compensation is appropriate, but there certainly should be something.


 

Betty Brewer

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Mar 10, 2005
Posts
4,756
Wow, Bruce,

Thank you for sharing.  Even if  your photos are not those of a professional they certainly captured the beauty of the moments.  Thank you for sharing.  I think they will make wonderful memories.  Good luck in your search for the others.  The wedding and bride looked so beautiful.  Wow is all I can say!

Betty Brewer
 

Ron

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Jan 29, 2005
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18,082
Location
Home is where we park it
Congratulations on your wedding and best wishes from Sam & I to you and your bride.  Wow sounds like you had some obsticals to over come but you did so.  Glad to hear the Visa has been approved.

 

DougJ

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 7, 2005
Posts
549
Bruce, there is a lot that can be done with and to those pics to make them as memorable as possible.  You need to find yourself a photoshop expert.  Of course you can't alter the pose and the "moment" that is captured in the image, but these photographs taken from the heart by your guests can be made icons of the wonderful, happy event that was your wedding.

My best to you and your wife, Sonia.  In the words of a Jane Oliver song, my wish for you both is "a long and lasting love."

Ciao,

Doug
 

Bob Buchanan

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Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Hello Bruce:

Thank you for the detailed account of the wedding -- and for sharing the pictures that you do have. Am not a surveying kinda member here so I didn't even realize you were back on the forum. There are so many joining now it's hard to keep up.

Not sure if you recall, but I did some semi pro photo work while living in the Bay area - and tho it was mostly portraiture, it also involved 10 or so weddings. My own marriage didn't work -- and each time I did a wedding, I was always envious of the happiness and beginnings of wonderful lives together that I was capturing. The happiness I see in the pics you posted is the most special part of our existence. I congratulate you and your beautiful bride -- and wish you well. My favorite ism has always been, "Unless you love someone, nothing makes sense".

The pictures taken at a wedding are your lifelong treasures - and for the generations to follow. There is little excuse for their loss. I just shook my head as I read your account. Something going wrong with my shots at a wedding was always my greatest fear. You "don't" re-stage weddings. When I did a wedding, I always had a second identical system loaded and ready to go as a backup, plus always hired a second photographer to double shoot each important set up. And pro labs just don't lose wedding film. Did the studio send their film to a lab -- and is that were the alleged thief occurred? Incredible. I can see little incentive to steal wedding photos.

I have done shots prior to the day of the wedding and have also done a few after the wedding - but re-staging a wedding is not a viable alternative. The food, clothing rental, flowers, and spontaneity of the event would be impossible to recapture. Please keep us posted on how that and the visa thing goes for the two of you.

Again Bruce, I wish you and your bride a lifetime of happiness . . .
 

Bruce Patterson

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Joined
Apr 10, 2005
Posts
188
Location
Some where on the Third Planet from Sol, Milky Way
Bob,

First, I got an email from the American Consul in Brasilia yesterday informing me that he has approved my immigration visa petition and forwarded it to Rio for processing. The Rio Consulate will inform my wife when they are ready to interview her and she will have to fly there for an interview after she gets her paperwork together and has a physical exam by a doctor certified by the consulate. So the only question here is when the process will be complete.

The photo studio that took the pictures is not only the largest studio in Manaus, they also have the largest lab.  They develop pictures for the public.

The photographer came to our rehersal and he's the one that told us how the wedding was going to work, who would do what and when.  We never met the priest prior to the wedding.  The photographer virtually staged the entire event.  I had my camera with me at the rehersal, which is a Nikon D70 with an SB800 flash, and he used my camera to take some pictures of the rehersal.  I asked him what kind of camera he had and he said his camera was the same model as mine.  I was very pleased about that, since I figured we would have some digital images the very same night.  I would have prefered that he use my camera at the wedding and simply charge for his time.  I was ready to go, with two 1GB and one 1/2 GB chips and that would have been perfect.  In Brazil, they don't shoot pictures before the wedding like in the USA, they actually stop the wedding right in the middle for the staged shots, which are all done right in front of all the guests.  The groom does NOT see the bride before she walks down the aisle. 

The photographer showed up with a Canon EOS, film camera, and I was shocked.  He claimed that 35mm resolution was higher than my digital camera, which is popycock! If he was going to use film, he should have been shooting medium format.  Before all my gear was stolen, I had a Mamiya RB 67 which would have been good for a film camera, but you get a lot less pictures with that.  The 6mp D70 shot in RAW mode easily rivals or exceeds a 6x45 camera, but maybe not a 6x7, but it is certainly good enough for 20x24 prints which is what I had in mind.

I agree, the idea of restaging a wedding is preposterous.  And I am totally baffled by this alleged theft.  I want a thourough investigation into what really happened.  The problem is that they are in Manaus and I am in the USA, and they don't speak any English.  I can't communicate with them directly.  Even my wife doesn't speak any English.  Fortunately, being a businessman in Brazil, I have an entire law firm at my disposal.  They are in Rio, about 1500 miles away, but they have correspondent lawyers in Manaus that can represent me.

The biggest problem for me was that I couldn't communicate with the studio in advance of the wedding and negotiate what exactly I wanted them to do.  The photographer was a wonderful guy and he staged some great shots.  If they had been taken with my camera, they would have been totally awesome!  The trouble was, the only time I had a chance to speak with him was at the rehearsal.  During the wedding he and I were both rather busy, and after that I was only dealing with a bunch of drones in the store who know nothing about photography other than how to take an order to have prints made. I never got to speak with the owner of the studio, and as it turns out, the drones only told me lies.

They wanted to sell me only 40 photos, plus an extra charge to put only those 40photos on a CD at low resolution.  By the end I had negotiated that they would sell me the negatives and a CD for the 150 best photos from the shoot scanned at the highest resolution, and no prints (for a much higher price than originally negotiated).  But they also told me that they didn't have them ready because of a backlog at the lab due to a power outage.  They said they put our pictures at the head of the list, but that the film hadn't been developed yet.  They were only trying to stall until I got out of Brazil, so they could drop their bombshell.

What a mess!

Bruce
 

Bob Buchanan

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Joined
Mar 3, 2005
Posts
3,038
Location
Philadelphia, PA
Bruce:

>> First, I got an email from the American Consul in Brasilia yesterday informing me that he has approved my immigration visa petition and forwarded it to Rio for processing.
====
Hope it all goes well and doesn't take too long. Things moving, however slow, is better than sitting still.

>> The photo studio that took the pictures is not only the largest studio in Manaus, they also have the largest lab.? They develop pictures for the public.
====
Unreal -- if I were a crook, I would pick something more valuable to risk my freedom on that someone's wedding pics.  ??? Wedding pics have value only to the bride, groom, family, and friends.

>> The photographer virtually staged the entire event.
>> The groom does NOT see the bride before she walks down the aisle.
====
Ah yes -- I remember all that well now  :). I always tried to tell the family up front that I did want to stage the events, but soon found that that was not what they wanted. I had a 3x5 card for each event in my hip pocket in the order they were to occur. When the mother of the bride would ask what to do next. I would take out the next card, and say, "It's time to cut the cake!!". A special thing I did prior to the wedding was photograph the Bride in her gown and the Bride with her Dad at my studio. I also had a great back yard with shrubs plus the studio so that became a special afternoon for the two of them. The morning of the wedding, we did the Bride dressing at her home -- so that was the special time for the Mom and brides maids.  It's pretty common here as well that the Groom does not see the Bride after the rehearsal dinner until she walks down the isle with her Dad - or whoever is giving her away. These are all the special things that the good photographer wants to capture and that cannot be re-staged.

>> The photographer showed up with a Canon EOS, film camera, and I was shocked.? He claimed that 35mm resolution was higher than my digital camera, which is popycock! If he was going to use film, he should have been shooting medium format.? Before all my gear was stolen, I had a Mamiya RB 67 which would have been good for a film camera, but you get a lot less pictures with that.? The 6mp D70 shot in RAW mode easily rivals or exceeds a 6x45 camera, but maybe not a 6x7, but it is certainly good enough for 20x24 prints which is what I had in mind.
====
Yep, as you know, digital has sure made believers out of many die hard pro film shooters. Have a pro friend that also ran the dark room side of a pro shop here in Sacto. Their sales of dark room stuff and classes on dark room have all but dried up. About 3 or so years back, I traded all my dark room stuff for my first digital camera (an Oly 2500L). When living in San Mateo in the 80's, I had built a fully equipped dark room and could go from any of my cameras to up to 16x20 prints in B/W and color from negs or slides. I also had a fully equipped shooting studio using a 5 head Norman strob pack. My equipment at the time was a Mamiya 645, an RB67, a Nikon F2, and a 5x7 Toyo field view camera -- plus did my field work with a Norman 200B strob. I was in film camera heaven. ;)  I still have the 645 and the F2, my RB w/2 lenses was stolen (maybe the same guy got mine that got yours), and the Toyo was part of my trade-in to get me going in digital. I still have the Norman 200B, but use a Quantum battery pack on my digital flash and a smaller Quantum on the camera itself.

Interesting how the pro shop I deal with has replaced their dark room space w/digital stuff. They still sell tons of film cameras though. Medium format still sells well there I'm told. However, most pros are now either shooting with digital, or shooting with film and then digitizing the film. A high res scan of a 35 neg can make a very nice 16x20. About this time last year, I saw the work of a local pro that had just shot a wedding with his Nikon digital. One shot was a portrait of the bride with a lace shawl over her shoulders and upper arms. The detail of the lace and fine hair of her forearms through the lace was incredible. And I thought of that as I read your post -- and knew that you knew what is now missing that snapshots cannot satisfy. BTW, are you still involved as Sysop in any Medium Format forums?

>> Fortunately, being a businessman in Brazil, I have an entire law firm at my disposal.? They are in Rio, about 1500 miles away, but they have correspondent lawyers in Manaus that can represent me.
====
I enjoy lawyer jokes as well as anyone -- but when you need an attorney, it's great that they are there. I am involved in a hefty law suit that I would have no idea how to handle on my own. Glad to read that you are going after them.

>> What a mess!
====
I hear ya  :mad:. Hang in there . . .
 

Jackliz

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Joined
Mar 4, 2005
Posts
1,287
Location
Hondo, TX
Howdy, Bruce.
Congratulations and Mazel Tov to you and your bride!!!  I saw those photos on the web site and thanks for sharing.
Yes, it is strange that wedding photos would be stolen.  :mad:  :mad:


I have assured my bride that the most important thing in my life is her, and though we may lose many material things in this life, we will never lose each other. Mementos are wonderful, but she herself is the best memento I will ever have.


Well said, Bruce. Jack and I wish you both much happiness and a long and prosperous life together.

Best regards,
Liz
 

DonJordan

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Joined
Jan 29, 2005
Posts
353
Bruce,

Congratulations on your wedding and your beautiful bride.  What a shame that the photographer/studio messed up and all of the "professional" shots are lost.

Best wishes for a long and happy marriage.
 

Bruce Patterson

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 10, 2005
Posts
188
Location
Some where on the Third Planet from Sol, Milky Way
Thanks Don,

We were married in a very beautiful church and everyone looked so good it is really a shame that we don't have pictures of that.  Many people who couldn't make it to the wedding will now not be able to see that vicariously.

I think that Sonia will meet with the studio this week acompanied by a lawyer to find out what their offer of settlement will be.

Of bigger concern to both of us is the fact that she currently doesn't have a visa for the USA and we are therefore separated.

We are looking forward to being together. Some couples have to wait a long time for this.  I hope we will be united by the end of the year.

Bruce
 
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