An arresting wedding portrait aims to draw attention to the devastating blaze currently scorching Northern California.
Photographer Karna Roa, owner of KMR Photography, captured the Chicago couple Katie and Curtis Ferland as they donned face masks in the vineyard of Chateau St. Jean on Saturday in Sonoma County’s Kenwood. In the photo, the couple is backed by the haunting glow of the Kincade fire that has been ablaze since last Wednesday.
Roa — who told HuffPost that she’s had four weddings affected by wildfire in the past three years — had some ominous thoughts while snapping the shot.
“The image was created in the style of the 1930s painting American Gothic,” she said. “The original painting by Grant Wood depicted the normal life in 1930 in the United States. As the couple stood in the vineyard with masks I wondered if this was the ‘new normal’ for the California Wine Country in 2019.”
The looming fire that blazed near Kenwood had quite an impact on the Ferlands’ wedding.
The couple’s rehearsal dinner had to be relocated to an alternative location. And although the ceremony took place outside in its intended location, due to the smoke, the wedding was moved indoors to an air-filtered reception room after the 20-minute ceremony.
“Kenwood lost power partway through the reception,” Roa told HuffPost. “The evening was kept going on generators.”
The next morning, the entire town of Kenwood was forced to evacuate, so the Ferlands packed up and headed to San Francisco for a mini honeymoon.
The Kincade fire in Sonoma County is affecting over 1 million people, and in many cases the circumstances are much more dire than the Ferlands’. Since the fire began a week ago, thousands have been evacuated.
Last Wednesday, utility company Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to over 1 million people in the region and many are still without power.
Investigators are also looking into whether PG&E equipment sparked the massive blaze in the region, though the company told regulators last week that one of its transmission towers broke near the ignition point, The Washington Post reported.
As of Wednesday morning, the Kincade fire had burned 76,825 acres and destroyed 206 structures, according to a tweet posted by the San Francisco Chronicle. It is currently 30% contained but is so large that NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan was able to take pictures of the fire from the International Space Station, posting them to Twitter on Wednesday.
Roa, who is based in the wine country, hopes that her photo of the Ferlands has a broader impact.
She told local news channel KPIX5, “As long as it can bring more attention to the wildfires and the problems that Sonoma and Napa County and Northern California are facing, then I would love more people to see it.”