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Suzanne and Tim's Wedding in Brockport, New York (near Rochester) - Joel Simpson Wedding & Event Photography
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Suzanne and Tim’s Wedding in Brockport, New York (near Rochester)

So why would I drive five hours from Union, New Jersey, to Rochester, New York, on December 26 to photograph a wedding? It was because the people I did it for were very special to me, namely the bride’s mom and her boyfriend. They were good friends before the wedding; they became dear friends through the wedding. They are my friend Judy and Craig, and Judy’s daughter Suzanne was the bride marrying a wonderful young man named Tim. Plus, I loved the family—a very spirited bunch in a tight-knit community. And they treated me royally.

The other reason was that I love to travel and hadn’t seen Rochester as an adult—it’s a fascinating place. More on that below.

Suzanne’s dad is the fire chief of Brockport, about 40 minutes west of Rochester (where I stayed with Craig), so the rehearsal dinner was in the fire station, naturally enough. It was a family-style meal on long benches with lots of good fellowship. It was then that I started to feel like part of the family.
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I was fortunate with the weather. Although I had encountered snow on the way up, it did not snow the whole time I was there, so I had no trouble getting around.

The following day, I visited High Falls, which is in the center of Rochester, which sports three more waterfalls within the city limits, all on the Genesee River.

200That afternoon, Suzanne’s preparations at her mom Judy’s house felt like a party. Both her parents were there, and her father led the toast among the bridesmaids with shots.
300I was also very touched by what can only be described as a shrine to Judy’s dad, who fought in the Second World War. His military photo as a smiling sailor beamed out at me, surrounded by squadron photos, a toy jeep, a model ship, and the triangular folded flag that draped his coffin when he died about a year ago. The house was filled with family photos and mementos.
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The ceremony and reception were at the Hickory Ridge Golf Resort in Holley, NY, a huge room decorated in rustic fashion. The place cards were displayed on individual pine cones. The ceremony itself was short and sweet, and the partying started almost immediately thereafter.

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I had been hired by Suzanne’s mom Judy, my personal friend, as a gift to her daughter. I took this as a great honor and very flattering. Suzanne & Tim were a wonderful wedding couple, obviously very much in love with each other, and their love spread over the whole company like a glow.
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The spirited DJ, Tommy B, kept things moving, and so did the bar, so after the buffet meal there was lots of dancing. The DJ had a great light show, and at some point inflated instruments appeared, and Suzanne’s mom Judy revealed her latent talent.

900Towards the end Suzanne and Tim did a dollar dance, where guests lined up to pay a dollar to dance with each of them.
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The following day I played tourist in Rochester visiting the Strong Play Museum and the George Eastman House. The first is a wonderful children’s museum offering room after room of environments from children’s literature, such as the Berenstain Bears, Star Wars, Sesame Street and Batman (no Disney), and the amazing Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden.

902Then I visited one of the “holy” places for photography, the George Eastman House. Eastman (1854–1932) emerged from a hardscrabble childhood raised by a courageous mother who supported them with a boarding house after her husband died, to invent roll film and make photography available to non-specialists, that is, everyone. He grew very rich. He was on friendly terms with other great inventors, such as Thomas Edison and the Lumière Brothers, and a supporter of civil rights and historic black universities. His parents had been involved in the Underground Railroad during slavery times. He was a great philanthropist, contributing to the University of Rochester. He never married, and when his health declined precipitously at age 78 he took his own life. His magnificent house is kept the way he left it.

903It’s also  a museum of his inventions

904and his life, with a small theater where a life sized cardboard cutout of Eastman almost makes it feel as if he’s there.

905Adjoining the house is a museum of photography, that features a permanent exhibition of still and movie cameras,

906and a several galleries with rotating exhibitions. When I was there I saw an impressive collection of astronomical photographs.

907I returned home the following day, passing through Watkins Glen, at the south end of Seneca Lake, where the park was closed due to unsafe conditions, which was a pity, since the cascade was doubtless stunning under ice.

908That whole Finger Lake area of New York State is magnificent.

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