If a trip to Hawaii is going to be cut short, let it be for a rock star. Miami-based photographer James Jackman was working on self-assigned projects on the island of O’ahu when New York Times Photo Editor Amanda Webster called.
The folk singer Arlo Guthrie, son of Woody Guthrie but famous for his 18-minute song “Alice’s Restaurant,” was getting married in two days at the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach, Fla., and Amanda wanted James to cover the story.
I really liked the simplicity of the assignment — to capture the mood of the moment and just illustrate how these two folks relate to each other.
Arlo and his new wife Marti Ladd first met 20 years ago when he stayed at the inn she used to own in Woodstock, N.Y. They struck up a friendship and kept in touch for the next 10 years, seeing each other every time Arlo and his then-wife, Jackie, returned for a stay at the inn.
When Jackie died in 2012 of liver cancer, it was Marti who provided a path forward for Arlo, who was disoriented after losing his wife of 43 years. They soon felt their friendship deepen and have spent the past decade together laughing, having fun, and mutually caring for each other through their advancing years.
Although a joyous occasion, the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach, Fla. was not the most desirable location for a photographer.
The outside of the courthouse was not a very nice backdrop. The inside was trouble as well, with poorly-lit spaces and fluorescent lighting. I was actually pretty surprised that they even let me photograph inside.
After the ceremony, everyone sat outside the courthouse and made chitchat while James casually photographed. As a shocking coincidence, it turned out that the very city on O’ahu James had just returned from, Haleiwa, is Arlo and Marti’s favorite place to vacation.
Arlo had lived there for a year or so while filming a television show, and it was so cool to hear about his experiences there.
The whole event was loving and relaxed, indicative of Arlo and Marti’s feeling that at this point in their lives every day counts. There is nothing to do now but enjoy each moment.
They have a really deep love for each other and that was palpable.
Besides the wonderful experience of witnessing such love, there is a lesson in James’ assignment — If ever disputing a parking ticket at city hall, be on the lookout for rockstars tying the knot.
You just never know who’s getting married at the courthouse!
See more of James’ images on his Instagram.