Colleen and August Beckley celebrate Colleen’s “champagne birthday” with Draht photoshoot. (Photo Contributed: Eric Draht)

Vernon photoshoot goes viral

You never know when a photo will catch the imagination of the viewer.

You never know when a photo will catch the imagination of the viewer.

“Photography isn’t like music,” said Eric Draht, owner of Draht Photography. “When you see a good photograph, maybe you don’t understand the rules of depth or three-point posing or colour theory but you look at it and you know if you like it.”

He said that with many forms of art, including music, one can often identify quality even if they don’t like it. He jokes that you probably don’t listen to Mozart at the gym.

“Even the rules of photography, they’re not invented,” he added. “They’re discovered.”

Draht himself discovered photography at a young age. He grew up in Vernon and after high school, spent 18 months (off and on) in England working with photographers, learning the craft. In 2004, he opened up his own business: Draht photography.

Though he spends most of his time shooting weddings in the Okanagan, it was one of his most recent shoots — a birthday shoot — that went viral.

Draht also teaches photography at the Caetani House in Vernon. This is where he met the subject for the 59 from 59 shoot: Colleen Beckley. She was a student of his last summer.

This year marked her “champagne birthday.” To celebrate, she and her husband August decided to mark the occasion with a photoshoot. They contacted Draht.

“I wasn’t sure what she had planned and going there, I had no idea about half the things that would happen,” said Draht. “I drove in and immediately saw this old pink [Ford Thunderbird]. It matched Colleen’s dress.”

The dress is vintage and also has an interesting history within Vernon.

It was purchased in Vernon by Ruby McRae, a lady in Beckley’s quilting group, who wore that dress on the opening day of the Imperial Bank on Main Street in 1957. Although the dress is hand-constructed and tailored for someone else, it fit Beckley perfectly. She decided to wear it for the shoot.

Inspiration hit. Draht shot with an old lens, creating a look reminiscent of the 1950s. Though Draht said he provided some guidance to the couple, he wanted to make them look natural.

“When people have been in a relationship for that long, they have this mode— this way of sitting, this way of standing together, this way of cuddling — they’re in sync and I just wanted to show the synchronicity between the two of them,” he said.

Based on the public response, he succeeded.

Draht says, he wasn’t sure whether it was the old-timey, vintage vibe of the photos, the dress, the way it showed off Vernon’s landscape or the editing, but the photos immediately gained mass attention online. Within an hour of posting the album, it had over 100 likes on Facebook. Within 24 hours, it had 1100 likes and several shares. Draht was also contacted by Huffington Post who had submitted the spread to their lifestyle section. Draht photography Instagram also gained an extra 1,500 followers since posting the shoot.

“It’s interesting, as photographers, we’re always looking for that special formula that is going to make something go viral,” Draht said in reflection. “I still don’t know what it is but for some reason, this just captured some people’s imagination.”

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The photo spread includes almost 200 photos; shows off Vernon landscape. (Photos contributed: Eric Draht)

The comments gained mass attention on social media through likes and comments like these ones.

Eric Draht is a Vernon-based photographer. His recent 59 from 59 photoshoot went viral. (photo contributed)

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