Bride Drowns in Shallow Water During Last Photo Shoot in Dress

If you’re a wedding photographer, you might want to think twice about doing a trash the dress shoot in a moving river. A newly married Montreal-area woman drowned this past Friday during a photo shoot in the Ouareau River.

The 30-year-old woman, married just three months ago, stepped into water that was neither deep nor fast-flowing. However, her wedding dress soaked up the river water, making it extremely heavy. She then slipped on the rocks and was carried away by the river.

The Montreal Gazette reports that the photographer, Louis Pagakis, cast aside his camera equipment and attempted to save her with the help of a passerby, but they couldn’t lift her out of the water or stop her from being carried away, simply because her dress was so heavy.

Later, a volunteer scuba diver was able to locate her body at the bottom of a stagnant pool of water about 100 feet away from where the shoot was taking place.

The story serves as a stark warning to wedding photographers, showing the potential danger of mixing large wedding dresses with a seemingly-safe river. We can’t imagine how scarring the experience must have been for Pagakis…

Thanks Adam, and everyone else who sent in this story.

Image credit: Cascades de la rivière Ouareau à St-Liguori./River Ouareau cascades at St.Liguori. by Sylvain Lacroix


    Thanks for sharing

  • engaeyumeppothum

    oh man…

  • Christopher Savoie

    “I tried to save her. I tried, I tried, I tried,”

    Wow is that is rough. What a terrible disaster.

  • Christopher Savoie

    “I tried to save her. I tried, I tried, I tried,”

    Wow is that is rough. What a terrible disaster.

  • shitface

    The wife of newly wed couple dies and all you can think of is “omg, that poor photographer!” Stay classy.

  • Tracey Easter

    This is why I keep my distance and do natural [candid] shooting during weddings. I think we feel bad for the photog because it was his idea. His passion will never be the same. I bet he deeply regrets thee idea.

  • stan Perry

    really all he had to do was rip the dress off … but i understand his overwhelment of the situation … he also might not been physically cabpiable for the rescue (older photographer) … after seeing the pictures of him that might be the case …. this is sad on so many levels … @facebook-1638002060:disqus yup he messed up about it … but as in my post hindsight is 20/20 …

  • Joy

    No, the bride chose the location of the photo shoot.
    She wanted to have her photo taken in that shallow water ..

  • Jane_Holst

    Why would you just go and spread a lie like that? It was NOT the photographer’s idea. The very first line in the paper says that!!! I hate it that people can just go on the internet and say stuff that is the exact opposite of the truth, you obviously have no conscience. Oh, and try sparing a thought for the dead person and her husband. Unbelievable.

  • Kamo

    Can’t even imagine how horrible everyone involved must feel after a tragedy like this. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I think the photographer should have better recognised the risks here.

  • John Nathaniel Calvara

    This is terrible. I never knew such accident would cause all this. Truly terrifying. May she rest in peace.

  • Dork

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  • Mansgame

    On a photography note, Trash the Dress shoots were original at first, but now it’s just another one of those “look at me!” type things – the fact that this happened 3 months AFTER the wedding shows that she was trying to milk the whole wedding thing even longer.

    On a human note, of course, it’s really sad that she lost her life and the people trying to save her have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

  • Paradise Cocktails

    The lady died and the writer is worried about the photographer???

  • unnecessary tragedy

    This was 3 months after the wedding? Why on Earth is she trying to pose in a dress that far after the fact?

  • Mangame


  • harumphalot

    funny, a lot of your posts seem to be “look at me!” type things

  • jimmy

    Seriously?The photographer? I had to reread the name last mentioned about feeling scared.

  • Chris Barr

    This was *not* a trash the dress session, she was only near the water… Which is almost even more crazy that something like this could have happened.

  • Michael

    Cold, but he’s the one who has to live with it, and remember it. She doesn’t.

  • Amy J

    Stupidity on both their behalf.

  • Kathleen Grace

    he will forever be traumatized, can you imagine how you would feel if you watched someone be pulled away from you standing helpless to save them

  • John Kantor

    I’ve always hated these – they are so cliched. So I’ve always referred to them as Drown the Bride shoots.

  • Umm

    Perspective. This is a photography website.

  • Macro James

    How photographer tried to do a unique shots turns out a disaster how sad…

  • genotypewriter

    Yeah the photographer should’ve recognised the risks… because they’re experts in knowing the buoyancy of various wedding dresses, right? :-P

  • john

    We can’t imagine how scarring the experience must have been for Pagakis… What about her husband????

  • Donal

    All the other authors on this story say she swam out into a pool of water AWAY from the shallow part. Why is this author, Michael Zhang, giving a different story?

  • Dee

    I doubt that very many brides or photographers would have anticipated the particular sequence of events that lead to her death.

  • Crissa

    A photographer is not a lifeguard. Or a firefighter or a paramedic. o-o Anyone doing a photoshoot needs to know that – you need handlers and photographers as separate people if you’re going to do anything with the least risk.

    And walking into a river is a risk.

  • Crissa

    It’s not a freak accident – it’s a common one. People in dress clothes don’t swim well.

  • Jim

    “We can’t imagine how scarring the experience must have been for Pagakis”

    This has got to be one of the dumbest statements ever written. Without question it’s far more scarring for the husband and the rest of her family, and someone is concerned about the photographer’s feelings? I’m guessing he’ll have a lawsuit to occupy his time in the near future.

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    I wonder what the water really looked like. The photo in the Petapixel article and news stories looks misleadingly fast to me. I passed on a Meetup event a while back where a photo group was doing this kind of thing. I was paranoid about falling down in the middle of the stream with my D700. I can’t imagine trying to get back up in a full dress with a train attached. But, it *probably* would have been safer if a whole group was around. Really sad story to hear.

  • Whyso Silly

    Silly post. She made the decision to pose there. It was an idiotic decision, one which was based on her getting more attention for herself months after her big day had passed – she has put this poor man in a dreadful position. He’s not allowed to have feelings about this, and we’re not allowed to feel for him? What a bunch of nonsense

  • Ally

    can you imagine how you would feel IF YOU WERE DEAD? i’d rather be traumatized than not be at all.

  • Heather

    true, she doesn’t have to live with it or remember it, because she’s no longer living. i can’t believe how many people are airing on the side of the photographer. SOMEONE DIED.

  • Blather

    There’s no sides. The fact that you think there are displays a real lack of imagination about what lies between black and white. Stop sentimentalizing the death of someone you didn’t know and look at the fact that she was 100 percent responsible for this happening. Ass to that she has now scarred this man for life with her lack of common sense.

  • Allby

    how scary was it for the bride. At this point, who cares aboutthe photographer…

  • ga1n

    A freak accident with tragic loss of life.. and you treat this as useful parable for wedding photographers? Is the tragedy here lost on your article?

  • MJ

    Has anyone thought of the possibility that the photographer warned the bride not to do the shoot in the river and she just didn’t care? Im a photographer and some people are stubborn. They just say take the photos, we are paying you! They would say its something no one has done and they want to be the first. Its a tragic accident and condolences to the family.

  • Kamo

    Come on now, you hardly need to be an expert to figure out that a soaked wedding dress is going to weigh a young woman down to the point where she’s going to struggle to stay afloat. I guess some of us might just have a bit more common sense. And if ever in doubt, don’t take any risks, especially with other people’s lives.

  • Anon

    I have no sympathy. There were no safeguards in place and this may be the most asinine trend created. Destroy a garment to show how binding your commitment is? Or to try and look like a high-end fashion shoot? REALLY? You just overpaid to destroy an overpaid garment. Thank you Darwin.

  • Jenny

    And the photog lacks the phyical and mental ability needed to say, “No.” ?? When one grown up can’t make good decisions, one would hope that the other grown up can.