Don’t believe everything you see or read on the internet, guys. Case in point, "We Still Coming." There has recently been a photograph allegedly supported by a text message screen-capture making the rounds online. It alludes to a wedding barbecue being crashed by a group of strangers because the bride-to-be sent out an invitation to the wrong number. Although the final communication shown, “We still coming,” is hilarious when viewed next to a photograph of a white wedding party surrounded by a group of young African-American men in casual attire. The thing is... the whole story is a lie - sort of!
I did some digging around online to verify this story and finally found the photographer of the wedding photo in question. The truth of how this photograph came to be is way better than what the comical, albeit borderline racist, internet fiction suggests. Below are the original source images being circulated around the web by various social networks and news outlets, and below that I talk with Detroit based wedding photographer Adam Sparkes about the real story that led to this internet sensation.
How It Went Viral
What Really Happened
Adam told me he had a really busy day with his wedding clients, Amy and Ian, that day in Detroit: “There was a Tigers game that had the theater district really tied up, so the bride and groom thought it would be a fun idea to go over to the remains of Michigan Central Station. It's sort of like a Roman ruin for metro Detroiters.” He further explained that he is normally not a fan of abandoned buildings, or "ruin porn” as he called it, because he prefers to see Detroit as an elegant city that’s just a little rough around the edges. However, it’s one of the few abandoned buildings that he will shoot in front of due to its fallen-from-grace aesthetic.
As the group of them drove around town in a trolley, they took it down Michigan Avenue to the Central Station where they happened upon a large group of young guys filming a video. “They had a tricked out Monte Carlo and a Cutlass and were in full music video mode,” he told me. Adam had his group take some photographs on the other side by some planter boxes, but the group making the video noticed them.
“I asked the groom if he wanted to be famous, and jokingly we yelled, ‘Hey we're going to be in your video!’ The guys were all laughing and told us to come on over, so we did.” Who wouldn’t take advantage of such a golden moment? The wedding party danced and posed with the guys and had an amazing time together in a spontaneous moment of carefree fun.
Adam added, “For me, that sort of moment is very much what weekends in Corktown or Downtown Detroit are like. Detroit is an eclectic, diverse place, and a scene where a group of hip-hop kids and a mostly white bridal party yucking it up isn't that surprising to me at all. I think that when the cellphone photo from the scene flew up to page one on Reddit Funny, it was because people found the scene out of place. I get why, and for the most part commenters and reporters were pretty funny and cool about what they were seeing. I was happy to not really see it get ugly, but the false premise that eventually developed was that this group of young guys crashed this wedding. I felt like the real story was more fun: a bridal party crashed a rap video, and it was a blast!”
“Detroit is always full of surprises. I know on a national level it's an odd place that gets a bad reputation. I think it's a very misunderstood place and I hope that some truth coming out of this little wedding meme will shed some light on the amazing, friendly, quirky part of Motown.”
The wRap Up
I asked Adam if he had any advice for other photographers whose photos might be used in a similar fashion and he was really laid back about it all. He wasn’t upset in the slightest; he just felt that the truth was even funnier and more endearing: “In this case, it would be easy for me to sort get the puffed up about a cell phone photo of my bridal party going viral, and in an age where wedding photographers are clamoring for ‘unplugged’ weddings and hating on uncle Bobs, it would be real easy for me to be upset that this thing went wild without my name on it. But honestly, that's just not me. Sure I would have rather gotten the credit, but I'd be disingenuous to say that I haven’t enjoyed the mystery of this random photo rising to a sort of fame.” He continued explaining how he realizes that media and online sharing in general move so fast that people should try to have a good attitude about it all.
He did speak up on Elite Daily, another news site that was spreading the fictitious text message image, but only because he felt like the true story was cooler and thought people should know. “Those guys shouldn't be viewed as party crashes or creepers. They were hospitable and had a great sense is humor about the two groups stumbling onto each other.”
The Michigan based videographers, HDFilmz, finished it and released it on YouTube titled 7262 - Anthem. It’s definitely not safe for work because of the language in it, but watching the rappers do their thing amongst footage of the wedding party crashing the shoot is utterly priceless. I was also pretty impressed with the actual song and flow of the artists in the video. I’m a huge Detroit Red Wings fan, and living near so many Chicago Blackhawks fans lends to many people dissing my favorite team and Detroit in general, so I’m really glad to see these two worlds colliding - enabling a unique video the musicians would have never planned and wedding photographs the photographer would have never imagined to come out of this whole encounter. Good for them and good for Detroit!
All images used with permission.