5am, 13th December 2018, Iten. It was a typical Iten morning – chilly and slightly misty even. There was no sound at all. No birds, no insects – they were probably all still sleeping. Although it was still dark, we had already been awake for an hour when they came in packs. Packs of 20, packs of 30, some even larger than that. All in perfect unison. And they broke that deadly silence. This was not the pitter patter of feet, neither was it heavy thumping. This was the sound of the world’s best runners training in what is affectionately known as the Home of Champions – their feet kissing the ground very briefly, rubber soles just caressing the tarmac for only as long as contact was necessary before the lithe limbs and calves lifted the foot up for another step. This happens 190 times a minute. Not more, not less – mile after mile. As captivating as it was, that is not why we were shooting in Iten. Our stars of the show today were Shamit & Pooja (affectionately known as #shampoo) and we’d woken up at 4am in the morning to capture that ethereal light in Kerio Valley near Iten in Kenya. The first light was a deep crimson, quickly turning into a fiery orange. For the next hour or so, as we watched this romance unfold, the sounds of the morning provided a magical soundtrack to this love story. The extra early start that morning was definitely worth it.
Later that evening, the wedding events kicked off with a colourful and vibrant Sangeet night. Mesmerising performances were complemented by yummy street food. The effort that Pooja and Shamit’s friends and family members had put into the singing, dancing and skits were a testament to the love they all had for the lovely couple. At one point, it seemed that this party was not going to end till the next morning but the rain at midnight was probably a blessing for guests to conserve their energy for the day after.
I remember the first conversation I had with Pooja and Shamit at a country pub in Northwood. One thing I took away from that meeting was that the baraat was going to be epic. And boy was it epic! It was the most elaborate baraat we’ve ever shot. Think smoke bombs, confetti canons, an extremely loud mobile DJ truck, live performances, and to top it all off, an impromptu dance-off between the bride’s side and the groom’s side. I am surprised that Shamit even made it to the altar. The sun was setting just as Pooja walked in looking spectacular and that was the split second that when I turned around, Shamit had a tear roll down his cheek. There it was – one of the most beautiful moments of the day when Shamit first saw his life partner walk down the aisle towards him, flanked by her dad and brother, as that golden light hit her face. Emotions got the better of him as his brother comforted him. But these were tears of happiness. True tears of joy! The wedding itself was a traditional Hindu ceremony culminating in an emotional vidai and after some hard negotiations by Pooja’s cousins and friends, Shamit was finally allowed to take her away! Note to self: Never stand with your back to a 40 year old Classic LandRover which has somewhat debatable brakes!
The evening made way to a beautiful Reception where DJ Raahi and Sarit set the stage for a very busy dancefloor the whole night. Single Malt whisky was sipped, shots were drunk, funny speeches were said, and more shots were drunk. Very energetic dancing was witnessed throughout the night. What an absolutely fantastic finale to a wonderful few days.
Thank you Pooja and Shamit, and thank you to all your friends and family who made us feel like we were at home despite us being hundreds of kilometres away from home. Thank you for all the trust you placed on us to capture your perfect wedding.
Eldoret, the indisputable home of champions. We’ll be back. For sure. One love!