“I love you for not only who you are, but for who I am when I am with you.” – Roy Croft
One January evening I was doubly blessed. My 17 year old daughter, Jessie, was selected by her high school to be one of the performers at the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami. Having missed most of the practices at Hard Rock Stadium because of my work schedule, I was looking forward to participating as a chaperone for the actual event fully understanding we had to wait outside the stadium while the students performed. It was fun just to be a part of the excitement with these young adults at NOVA University where they gathered ready to get on the buses to the stadium.
After we spent several hours at Nova University, waiting with the dancers, we loaded the buses and I happened to be sitting with behind one of the kindest and most beautiful of young women. She was with one of the students, so I assumed she was a student from my daughter’s school. As these young dancers sang Broadway showtunes on the way to the stadium, the anticipation grew as people in cars pointed at the buses under police escort and waved at the students singing out the windows.
Arriving at Hard Rock Stadium close to dusk, we departed the bus and waited in the entrance line with all of the kids asking for us to capture photos of them outside on their phones with the Super Bowl banners proudly displayed throughout the stadium. I took a photo of my new friend, Kelly, with the other girls around her, smiles all over the place. Their happiness contagious. Arms up the air, smiles all over the place.
The groups assembled outside of the stadium waiting to check in watch the celebrities arriving and being escorted to their places. We hear the national anthem and the roar of the crowd as our USA military jets do their fly by. Finally, as our students dance on their feet, the Super Bowl logistics team bring us to the staging area and ask us to corral our kids. Of course, several have to use the restroom, we’re shepherding everyone in place. The dancers are getting anxious. The chaperones completely convinced we are losing half of them before the night is over. Miraculously, we hear the 2nd quarter end and all these young adults are accounted for.
It’s show time.
Imagine my surprise when the logistics team instructed us to run through the end zone with the students and out on the field. We were to follow the dancers at a sprint so we could watch from the sideline. 50 yard line view on the Super Bowl field for a live half-time show and experience of a lifetime. The energy is indescribable. The stadium electrifying.
The last note rings out over the loudspeakers and the applause is deafening. The young people barely have time to breathe before they start the sprint straight off the field and directly into the waiting buses. Controlled chaos. A madhouse rush. They’re practically floating on air. We can barely be peel them off the ceiling. The squeals of delight ring louder in the confined spaces than the stadium crowds. These young adults all overcome with emotion, happiness and the relief of a job well done.
Anyone who expected something different from a half-time show has not been to a high school football game lately. The only thing different in high school football half time dances besides the music quality is the stripper pole and paid performers. There were no moves on that Super Bowl field that I haven’t seen at my local high school every Friday night football game. I’m not saying it’s ok, I’m saying it’s just a reality. These kids didn’t hear the backlash or the tvs changing channels. They just know they performed their hearts out, followed the instructions they were given, and the days and hours of practice resulted in a flawless halftime performance on a world stage with millions of people watching them.
What the kids experienced was pure joy in a once in a lifetime experience.
When we arrived back at NOVA to reconnect with the students and ensure everyone made it back to their parents and home safely, I found my new friend on accident. She was seated right behind me again.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered she wasn’t a student, but a local dance instructor in the Florida Keys. I saw her beautiful ring and we talked about her upcoming wedding at Playa Largo Resort where I frequently shoot. And that’s how I met one of the nicest couples I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Already blessed by the rarest of unique evenings, I am doubly blessed to meet the rarest of unique couples.
Lance and Kelly both as exquisitely kind and lovely as the other. Both so in love with each other and grateful for their life together that it’s a pure pleasure to be with them.
I am a wedding photographer for the blessing I find in meeting wonderful people and creating art that is only beautiful because of the moment captured with these specific people in them. The moment lives on for them as long as the image does. That is my gift to them, and their gift to me. A moment of beauty created together.
The convergence of that juxtaposition are the images we create, Kelly, Lance and me. And sometimes their lovely black dog, Lola.
You could travel the world and be hard pressed to find any more lovely couple or nicer two humans. It is my privilege and delight to be their photographer and their friend.
Here once again is Lance & Kelly. Love looks so beautiful in each of you.