I have so many more stories from our photography days when we were Curtis Rhodes Photography...and why not, we were at it for about 20 years! Here's a story about the wedding of a very lovely young couple...he, very French and she, a member of the Swinomish Tribe of La Conner. They lived and worked in Seattle but certainly wanted to bring her traditions to their wedding. And so they planned the ceremony to be up in La Conner at the reservation's lovely little white, barrel ceilinged Catholic chapel and the reception back in Seattle in the Olympic Hotel's elegant Georgian Room. The entire church could have fit into the Georgian Room! They were to have the Catholic priest marry them and then the Indian Shaman perform the Sacred Indian Smoke Ceremony.
We finished our pictures just before the guests started arriving and just as the Shaman made his appearance. He was, of course, a very respected and elegant gentleman who used a wheelchair. He called me over and told me about his ceremony. He said that it was fine to take pictures...up to a point. Once the Smoke Ceremony began I was to respect the sacredness and refrain from photographing. I, of course, said, "Of course!" I pointed out a door at the back of the altar and asked if I could come through it early in the ceremony to get a good angle of he and the couple sitting on the Indian blankets he told me he would spread on the floor. He said that would be fine...as long as it was before the Sacred Smoke Ceremony.
And so the couple were married by the Catholic Priest and then the Shaman wheeled himself to the front of the church. All the elegant guests from around the world were in hushed awe as he turned and explained the ceremony...then said that if everyone would please show respect for the Sacred Smoke Ceremony and take no pictures...and it began. He spread his blankets and placed the paraphernalia and he and the couple took their places on the floor. I saw my chance and went around the back and quietly stepped through the door, took aim with my giant Hasselblad and fired...CLICK, CLACK! The crowd GASPED in shocked disbelief!! Poor Vickie, sitting at the back tried to tell a few people that, "No, he was told that before the Sacred Smoke Ceremony......" But I must say that as I slinked to the back of the church amidst the scowls and reproving glares of the congregation and the Sacred Smoke Ceremony began, it was truly a sacred event.