Ebullient. Outgoing. Passionate. That will do for starters to describe Kim & Adam Bamberg. They, along with their assistant Molly Magee (about whom more in a separate post) have been producing the fabulous photographs that document Whim, from just before its very first program in January 2009.
The Bambergs met before either of them began photographing, in 1999 at REI, where he was her boss, training her in footwear. He’d worked there six years, after a series of wildly assorted jobs— as a projectionist and a grocery bagger, processing chickens, working as a paralegal, and doing wiring for Edmonds school district. She was just out of college. Both of them were quite depressed at the time, suffering from injuries that had side-lined them as elite athletes (she was an avid rower, he a serious climber). Besides obvious natural attraction, they bonded over trying to answer the question, “What can we do now that our bodies don’t work any more?”—and started finding things they could do together.
In the next year, quite serendipitously, they were both given film cameras—hers had been her grandma’s, his was his parents’. Kim’s dad suggested finding a class to take. Her initial reaction was that she’d just finished college and should know enough already, certainly about what she wanted to do. She had always loved the arts and “was okay at a bunch of things but not great at any.” But she did sign up for a Photographic Center Northwest class. There she met the women who would later be her business partners in Junebug Weddings (a wedding planning resource and online magazine that she and they would start later—www.JunebugWeddings.com). She also had “the best professor I could imagine, encouraging and open minded.” In a group exercise, the students all laid five or six of the favorite photos they’d taken for the class; then the whole group talked about them and chose their favorites. When four of the class picked photos of hers as their favorites, Kim realized, with a start, “I am a photographer.”
At around this time, Adam quit REI to become a sales rep for outdoor gear. His territory was Oregon, Washington and Montana. Kim’s class would get assignments, and she would go along with him on his sales trips, photographing all the way. She coached too, for the Lake Samamish Women’s Varsity Crew team, which Adam helped her with as well. They learned from all this that they loved traveling in each other’s company and worked very well together.
She and Adam started their photo business by doing kids’ portraits. Then, in a photography class, they met a woman who hired Kim to help at a wedding. Kim turned up—not knowing what she was supposed to do, not even having met the couple—“but I must have done something right because we got passed along another wedding.” This time they met the pair and their families ahead of time. He was from Malawi, she from Chicago, a beautiful contrast for photographing. They became good friends.
And that was it! Kim & Adam were both hooked.
Now, weddings are their bread and butter, though they are way more than that.
“So much fun,” says Kim, “and also stress—which I love.” She is, as Adam says, “the boss. At weddings there are certain obligatory shots you have to get, everyone wants them. She has to do the staging, deciding which shots for whom.” Adam, on the other hand, “Infuses spontaneity.” He says, “I have this gift, this luxury at weddings of standing back and capturing what appeals,” He is funny, easy-going, empathetic, good at photographing preparations and taking quirky shots to capture those special moments that will exemplify the whole occasion.
Yet even such an energetic pair as the Bambergs get depleted by the demands on their energy. “We use up a tremendous amount of energy in public,” says Adam. “It’s necessary and important to refresh.” They get nine hours sleep a night. “We believe in sleep,” they say, resting, gathering energy. And they both cherish winter, their secret favorite time of candles, talk, and cozy, quiet moments. Kim grew up in Friday Harbor and appreciated off-season there, with all the summer visitors gone. It is the best time for them to travel too, as far as wedding work is concerned.
The same year that La Vie Photography (www.LaViePhoto.com) was born, Adam proposed. The wedding took place in 2003 at the French chateau of very long-time friends of Kim’s family. It was the anniversary of Kim and Adam’s first date (and, as it turned out, the same for his parents). It is no surprise that the month was November.
Which brings us, oddly enough, to the connection with Whim W’Him, which have become both family for Kim and Adam and part of their regeneration and replenishment. “The seasonal timing is good for working with Whim W’Him and weddings,” Kim says. “Symbolic even. Off-season is for home and family. Also giving to the community, giving our art—more powerful than money.”
The Bambergs were introduced to Whim W’Him artistic director/choreographer Olivier Wevers, and his husband, dancer Lucien Postlewaite, by Pacific Northwest Ballet board member Steve Fuhs. It was December 2008, shortly before the first performances, at On the Boards, of Whim W’Him. They all immediately took to each other, Kim and Adam agreed to come photograph at some rehearsals, and the rest, as they say, is history.