June 6, 2013

Medieval Games and Weddings


A long time ago, way before I became a photojournalist or a wedding photographer I was asked to shoot a Medieval wedding. I jumped at the chance. The only caveat was that I had to dress the part. I didn’t mind. Dressing up as a Medieval monk seemed more appealing than donning a suit and tie. And the outfit doubled as a Jedi costume for the next Halloween.

Recently, I was asked to photograph another Medieval event – this time the Waldorf School Medieval Games. My daughter, Sequoia, is a 4th grader who goes to Shepherd Valley Waldorf School and this event is a rite of passage for the 6th graders at all the regional Waldorf schools. Students came from as far as New Mexico and Old Mexico to participate in the games to test their will and teamwork. This was my first experience with the games and I was excited to get a sneak preview of what Sequoia would do in two years.


I was reminded of the difficulties of shooting in a monk’s robe as the heat and the temperature inside the garment rose as the sun climbed in the sky. Kneeling down to shoot wasn’t too difficult but getting up from the position, I tripped more than once on my robes and the morning’s dew soaked in before the sun had a chance to evaporate it for the day.

Aside from the minor difficulties encountered from my wardrobe choice my experience at the Medieval Games was amazing. I was blown away at how ready the children were to meet the challenges of the day. From running a relay in which they had to heft and chuck a three-foot log to making sure each child made it over a wall together, each child found the fortitude and spirit to meet each challenge head on.

The setting was amazing as well. The event was held on private land a mile or so up Lefthand Canyon. Volunteers must have worked for hours setting up the course and games that peppered the beautiful landscape. Warn pathways of games past took participants from events to test skills of archery and trebuchet to zip lines over dragon pits and bridges over whitewater.


These kids were living the kind of childhood experience some only dream about. It was great to see the support from the parents and school teachers as well as the games tested the children. Considering the kids didn’t have any prior knowledge about the days events, they must have extreme trust in their teachers and their school.

I was proud to be a part of such an event. I welled with emotion as I watched the children troubleshoot just how they were going to get their friends over the wall. I was taken over with emotion again when one Shepherd Valley Waldorf student was encouraged to run across a pond from shaky island to shaky island. The student, near tears at the start, made the leap to the first island and never looked back. Even after falling in she swam back to one of the islands, climbed aboard with the biggest smile that would warm any parents heart.

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Taking a break from shooting and thinking about weddings was refreshing. I was happy just to be there to experience the event and watch as the children went away from the games knowing a little more about themselves and their school community. Shooting an event like this gives me perspective and refreshes my passion for what I do. I love making photos that tell stories. I remember feeling that way shooting the Medieval wedding so many years ago. It’s one thing to make good photos when everyone is dressed for the occasion and happy but it’s completely another to make meaningful photos that tell stories in a truthful way within the same context.

20130525 Midieval Games-1Eric and I take this philosophy to the weddings we photograph. We don’t want to make idyllic photos of a wedding that didn’t happen. We want to make photos of your wedding as it happens and as it naturally plays out. So that means if it snows, that becomes part of the story of your day. If the officiant forgets to do the ring part of the ceremony (this happened to me), it becomes part of your story. We are there to show what happens so you can remember the event for what it was not for what the photographer thought it was. This is another reason we don’t set things up. We want you to remember it how it happened.

I know that every wedding won’t have the drama of the Medieval events I’ve written about, but your day will have its own drama and we want to be there to capture it. Please contact us to learn more about how we can make your wedding – Medieval or not – a thing of beauty.

Medieval photo monk having a cookie.


Chris Stark
Wedding Photojournalist at Stark Bellamy Photography
Chris Stark is an award-winning photojournalist and former news photographer who honed his craft at several Colorado newspapers. Documentary wedding photography translates perfectly into Chris' fly-on-the-wall style. Chris lives in Longmont, Colorado with his wife and daughter and spends his free time on the bike or hiking with his family.