“You have the BEST job ever! You get to hang out at weddings every weekend!!”
Almost too many times to count, I’ve heard that I have the best job ever from bridal parties, family members, and wedding guests alike. I want to let you in on a little secret – you are completely right, but not at all for the reasons you might think.
In all honesty, while you as a wedding guest might think that I love weddings because I just get to hang out with the bridal party, eat some cake, and snap a few photos of the bride and groom somewhere in between, you couldn’t be further from the truth. But I’m not writing this to shame you or be rude, just the opposite! Absolutely, I do attend MANY weddings each year, and I truly love every experience and each couple because every one is so different! Of course when someone says this to me at a wedding, I don’t try to share my entire philosophy and why I do what I do, instead I simply smile and keep rocking those bridal party photos and in my heart I know why I do what I do.
I DO love my job because of my head-over-heels-for-each-other couples. I adore each breath of anticipation before you say your vows. How stunning you look in your dress (it often makes me cry behind my camera!). That excited, relieved, newlywed laughter after the ceremony. The embrace from grandma that brings you to tears. You getting a group hug from your bridesmaids, who are also your long-time best friends and sisters. I do this wonderful, fulfilling job because it fills my heart with happiness to serve such amazing and grateful couples like you, and provide you with your wedding story, as documented through my lens. All the tiniest moments that would otherwise be forgotten, as well as those big moments that you will remember for your lifetime.
What you as a well-meaning guest can’t possibly know (unless I tell you) is that my commitment is not limited to those 8 or 10 hours that I spend with each bride and groom on their wedding day. You aren’t able to see the hours and weeks I’ve spent corresponding with the couple leading up to the wedding. Our time spent photographing the engagement session, and then my time spent culling (sorting images), editing, and carefully preparing the online image gallery. Those hours of bookkeeping and tax filing, preparing contracts, and being a responsible business owner. Hours visualizing and planning for the wedding day photos, and brainstorming wonderful plans with the bride and groom. You might not see me quietly calculating how I can make the most of a short window of time for family and bridal party portraits, or how I read the bride and groom’s body language and help them relax, take a deep breath, and simply enjoy their portraits when we have a few moments alone.
You, as a guest, can sometimes see me carrying around all my camera gear (and backup gear), but you might not consider that I have to be flexible and prepared for hot, cold, rain, humidity, or whatever the weather throws at us. Wrangling the entire bridal party for photos and making them laugh at just the right moment. Working with the low light during the speeches and first dance, and quickly adjusting my gear and myself to accommodate all of the unknown factors of a wedding day. Uploading, culling, processing, and delivering all the final images after the big day. Following up and thanking the newlyweds for the wonderful time and for welcoming me with open arms to share in such a beautiful joining of their families. All those precious hours spent away from my family on weekends. What you aren’t given a ‘backstage pass’ to see is all the energy and love and time and smiles that I invest in each couple. I’ve now become much more than just a photographer to this new husband and wife, I’ve become a friend who was there to witness SO many intimate and joyful moments on their wedding day!
So you’re always welcome to tell me that I have the best job ever – because you’re totally right, I do! But not for the reasons you might initially think.
(film – Portra 400 and Fuji400H :: camera – Contax RX :: lens – 50mm 1.4)