They made a bee-line for her grandparents’ house, where a chilly swimming pool awaited them.
“It was March, but we went swimming in our clothes to take pictures of each other,” she said. “My grandparents thought we were crazy. It was cold, but being cold added to the excitement.”
The couple began Buffy Dekmar Photography two years ago and have since been expanding their services in their quest to expand their creativity. They are primarily wedding photographers, but during the week they specialize in portraiture for families, couples, children, high-school seniors and the like.
With the hot season here, they began experimenting in March with their underwater photography equipment to be prepared for this summer. Their underwater photography sessions reflect their quest to try new things with their craft.
“We want to be able to take pictures anywhere and in any condition,” Chris Dekmar said. “We want to give ourselves opportunities to capture something different. With underwater photography, it’s always a surprise to see what comes out of it.”
One of their first sessions came when they met John and Kristin Lupien of LaGrange at Jekyll Island when they traveled to the Georgia coast in April for an engagement photography session with April Garrett and Glenn Gantner at Cumberland Island.
Garrett and Gantner also were willing participants as the Dekmars experimented with their underwater equipment in LaGrange at the pool of April Garrett’s mother.
“The pictures were amazing,” April Garrett recalled. “We had so much fun with it. We’re good swimmers – scuba-certified – so we just dove down to the bottom of the pool and came toward each other when they took one of their best pictures.”
The Dekmars had photographed the Lupiens and their children on several occasions, including their wedding, family portraits and their children’s photos.
At the pool at the Lupiens’ Jekyll Island hotel, they jumped in the water with Kristin Lupien’s son, Bryce Bailey, 6, and little Charlotte, 1. Bryce had just learned to swim the summer before, his mother said, so they coaxed him to take off his goggles and show off under water.
“Bryce did things he’d never do on land,” Buffy Dekmar said. “He was just uninhibited.”
They also took “over-under” shots where they captured images of Bryce underwater reaching for Charlotte’s little legs as she floated while showing Charlotte and her dad on top of the water.
“What we try to do with our photography is capture real life and real memories,” Chris Dekmar said. “A lot of our own best childhood memories are in the pool. Something about being underwater releases us from inhibitions that may define us on land. There is an element of freedom that can only be found in floating and guiding through water. That’s why underwater portraits can be so emotive, energetic and expressive.”
Kristin Lupien said Bryce loved the experience.
“He would give a thumbs-up underwater,” she said. “At one point they captured a great shot when we said, ‘Bryce, pretend you’re a shark getting Charlotte’s foot.’ ”
Kristen Lupien said she’s in the process of determining which of the underwater photos she wants to enlarge. Bryce’s walls in his bedroom lend themselves to being a great backdrop, but she said they’d be perfect in her living room too.
“They are such a striking conversation piece,” she said. “I already have so many wonderful pictures they’ve done, pictures where Buffy and I have had fun chasing Bryce around the yard to get great shots. Underwater photography is just the beginning of her creativity.”
Buffy Dekmar has been a teacher at Unity Elementary School for the past four years and has a master’s degree in education from Troy State University. Chris Dekmar has a master of business administration degree from West Georgia College and State University and worked for five years as general manager of Holiday Inn Express.
The photography business has grown so much, though, that the two recently resigned from their jobs to focus full time on photography.
“I love children, and I have found that I would rather spend my time capturing the essence of childhood and artistically interpreting youthful spirits than trying to mold them or control what they are doing,” Buffy Dekmar said. “Childhood is beautiful, and I can best appreciate that beauty through photography.”
She handles the creative design and envisioning, and her husband mans the equipment and technical aspects of their business.
In the first year, they shot 10 weddings; this year, they have 20 booked. Their website, blog, Facebook and word-of-mouth have helped their business grow exponentially.
They recently had a Facebook contest in which participants would give them a creative idea for an underwater photography session. They’re excited about the winning entry submitted by Brooke and Jeremy Cockrell. Next week they’ll meet with the Cockrells to photograph them in a 100-foot-deep spring called Rock Hole in LaGrange. A zip line is affixed over it.
“We’ll definitely have to tie off our camera,” Chris Dekmar said. “If we drop it in the water, we most likely could never get it back.”
The two are considering becoming scuba-certified, and Chris Dekmar is working on earning his sailing license so they can expand water photography opportunities.
“So far we’ve photographed in swimming pools, on island beaches at the Georgia coast, kayaks at a lake in Atlanta and even a little session in a resort hot tub,” Buffy Dekmar said. “We can’t wait to see what adventure our underwater camera housing has in store for us next.”
Natalie Shelton can be reached at nshelton@
lagrangenews.com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 229.