- A striking image of newlyweds Curtis and Katie Ferland wearing protective masks in their wedding photo during the California wildfires has gone viral.
- Photographer Karna Roa told Insider that the setting reminded her of the 1930s painting “American Gothic,” so she had the couple recreate the pose from the portrait.
- Curtis told Insider that it was the very last photo the couple took before joining their reception, which had to be moved indoors due to the fire.
- The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, California, has scorched 76,825 acres and destroyed more than 200 structures, including 94 homes as of Wednesday morning.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Right before joining their wedding reception, Katie and Curtis Ferland posed for one last photo.
Their wedding planner gave the newlyweds protective masks to wear over their faces, as the Kincade Fire burned behind them in Sonoma County, California.
The striking image, which was taken by Bay Area wedding photographer Karna Roa, has since gone viral.
Katie, 32, and Curtis, 30, stare straight ahead in the photo, the masks covering most of their faces. Their bodies are stiff as they clasp hands and stand in the middle of Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood. The sun glares behind them, descending into a sky painted red, orange, and black.
‘It was the last picture we took before joining the reception, and we almost didn’t do it at all,’ Curtis told Insider. ‘Our wedding planner requested the photo out of personal love for Gothic art’
Both Sara Sugrue, the couple’s wedding planner from Orchard Avenue Events, and Roa had been reminded of “American Gothic,” the iconic 1930 painting by Grant Wood that features a man and woman standing in front of their farm.
“The sky was full of smoke and the sun was red and the moment they put their masks on, I instantly thought of ‘American Gothic,'” Roa told Insider. “It depicts the average person of that time period, and this is the third year running that I’ve had weddings drastically affected by the fires.”
“So when I looked at them and the red sky I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, is this the new normal for wine country in October?’ So I immediately took it towards the ‘American Gothic’ way and had them stand stiff like the portrait.”
Roa, who lives in the East Bay and was not in the evacuation zone for the Kincade Fire, said she felt nervous as she drove to the vineyard for the couple’s wedding on Saturday
“I never considered cancelling. It was far enough from the fires that there wasn’t an imminent danger,” she said. “But the biggest problem of the day was that most of the local vendors involved were being evacuated or had to be evacuated, so it was stressful from behind the scenes.”
A power outage on Thursday forced Curtis and Katie to move a welcome drinks reception for their 80 guests. Seventy-nine of the guests had come from out of state to celebrate the couple, who hail from Chicago and had dreamed of a beautiful wedding in wine country.
Curtis and Katie, along with many of their guests, also had to leave their Airbnbs and check into hotels due to power outages and a widening evacuation zone.
“The planning was stressful during the week as we closely monitored the situation,” Curtis said. “Our priority at all times was the safety of our guests, vendors, and staff. We took extra precautions due to air quality.”
The ceremony was still held outside but only lasted 20 minutes. On the night before the wedding, Sugrue devised a plan to move the entire reception indoors – complete with backup generators and an air filtration system.
When it came time to take the wedding photos, Roa made sure the couple and their family members spent very little time outdoors.
“It was definitely smoky air,” she recalled. “Within 10 minutes of being outside on the property, I had a headache, I had a scratchy throat, and my eyes were really red and irritated.”
“We spent very little time outdoors and only a few minutes at a time. We did do a few family portraits outside, but they were very hurried. Everyone was aware it was a bad idea to be outdoors.”
“The wedding coordinator, it was her idea to take at least one photo with the masks,” Roa added. “Because it really represented all of the things that had been happening for the wedding and what was happening in the county at the time.”
Roa, who later posted the photo on her Facebook, said she believes it has gone viral because of its ‘combination of joy and sorrow’
“The wine country is such a beautiful place and it’s absolutely up in smoke right now,” she said. “It’s a strange combination of the best day of a couple’s lives thus far, and possibly the new normal of wine country.”
It was still a day full of joy for Katie, Curtis, and their families and friends.
“The wedding planners did such a great job of keeping the wedding beautiful and gorgeous with all the twinkling lights,” Roa said. “It all sparkled indoors.”
“At the end of the day, we had a wonderful wedding and all of our guests had an amazing time,” Curtis said. “We are happy we were able to have the wedding at all, and our hearts go out to those who weren’t able to have theirs. Our thoughts are also with all of the first responders who are working hard to contain the fire. We feel very deeply for all the people impacted by these horrible fires, and wish everyone a safe and speedy return.”
On Sunday, the morning after their wedding, the newlyweds and all of their guests were forced to evacuate due to the fire.
As of Wednesday morning, 76,825 acres have been scorched by the Kincade Fire, which is 30% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
At least 206 structures have been destroyed, and 94 homes have been lost. There have been no reported deaths or missing persons, and two firefighters have been injured. More than 90,000 structures remain threatened.
Roa hopes that the image of Katie and Curtis will raise awareness around just how devastating the California wildfires have become, and how much global work needs to be done
“I do hope that more people can see this and more people can be aware of these types of tragedies that are happening,” she said. “And I hope the rest of the world can see how Sonoma and Napa counties are coming together to work as a community to try and solve this problem that we’re in.”
“But climate change and global warming, that’s way past our little community here.”
- Read more:
- A California couple who was forced to evacuate their home and winery share what it’s really like to endure the wildfires engulfing the state
- Video shows the moment California’s Kincade Fire sparked and spread to a massive blaze in moments
- Video shows a Los Angeles fire roaring through a canyon towards homes. The fire has forced around 50,000 people to evacuate.
- More than 800,000 people in Northern California will have their power shut off Tuesday night as the fear of wildfires grows
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