posted on: July 18, 2005

When I first met with Jen & Chris, I noticed something about Chris' eyes, but didn't want to ask at our first meeting. Luckily, I had accidentally given Jen & Chris the wrong contract which provided them with an engagement session that wouldn't normally have been included in their package. I say luckily, because I'm very grateful that I had an opportunity to learn more about Chris' condition before their wedding day.

Chris was born with a condition called aniridia which is described as having partial irises or none at all. This only happens to 1 out of every 100,000 - 250,000 people and is caused by a deletion in a strand of DNA. Because he has no irises, his eyes cannot dilate in bright sun, and he has difficulty keeping his eyes open in even shady areas on a clear day. I think this is one of the most difficult photographic challenges I've had yet. I wanted Chris to feel as comfortable as possible, so I sought out shady areas, avoided using flash, and tried to only venture into open areas when the clouds came out. Eventually we were able to create a system that worked for both of us, which allowed him to keep his eyes closed longer while still allowing me to capture a few prepared shots. More than anything, I'm glad that we had a chance to work together before the wedding, because there's absolutely no time to experiment when it comes to the day of the wedding. Luckily, their wedding will be in the winter and indoors, so sunlight will be at a minimum. They are a wonderful couple and it was incredible to see both of their faces just light up when they looked at each other. I share this story in order to bring awareness to this condition as it seems to be under-researched with no apparent cures or treatments.

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