Love is in the air…. And I have spent the evening musing about the process of discovering what I do (and why I love it), while being a part of others love and “I do’s.”
You can click here for a little playlist I made for the approaching day of love. It’s also what I was listening to when I was writing the following post, so forgive me if my reflections are too sappy, or too emotive.
Between my candle-lit living room, Carla Bruni playing on spotify, and a glass of white wine, my environment might have had something to do with it.
When I was thirteen, my friend Dustin Leigh made a comment in passing that she had been working for a wedding photographer, and that she might not have as much time to keep assisting her for weddings. I immediately felt a sense of excitement, as she shared that there was a chance I could take her place on some weekends. I had recently taken my first photography class, and had fallen in love with the art, the process, the component of capturing humanity in my own way. So, the thought of seeing a real-life professional photographer in action, thrilled me.
That summer I assisted on a handful of weddings, and continued assisting throughout high school. Julie Buell of Buell Photography was the gracious photographer who took this annoyingly curious little charge under her wing. I just loved watching Julie work; she would bring the bride and groom a little care package on the day of the wedding, and seemed to have a magical way of interacting with people and making them feel at ease.
I learned so much from her and the way she served, loved, and photographed her clients and friends.
I would carry Julie’s bags, hold reflectors, set up lights, fetch us water, and eat the delicious sandwiches Julie would make for us. (Oh the memories a thirteen year old decides to store away…) Julie treated me with such a respect…I never felt like I was thirteen when I was working with her, I felt honored, valued, and respected as a woman, and I remember feeling really impacted by that.
Only a few months ago, I had the privilege of photographing Julie’s son John’s wedding to her fabulous new daughter-in-law, Lindsy!
At fifteen, I asked a new friend if she would mind if I took some images at her wedding. She happily agreed, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity! I photographed her wedding, which was held in a church that sat probably 800 people, and the sanctuary was almost packed! It was one of the largest weddings I have attended or photographed to date, and it felt very dramatic as a first experience of “my own gig.”
I have Todd and Molly Merry to thank, for being up for having me play a role in their day over ten years ago! I love seeing images of their life and love pop up on my facebook news feed every now and then…
…and always think back on that monumental day, where I whispered how nervous I was in my Dad’s ear, as he dropped me off and helped get me set up.
Speaking of my dad, I have my inspiring parents to thank for always feeding the parts of me that dreamed about things that seemed outside of the realm of possibility, my age range, or what others told me I could or couldn’t do.
According to my parents, I could do anything, and that gave me the ability to start to believe them. (Well, that, and my thick will to get what I want or prove people wrong.) My parents have continued to see me this way, and while I love so many other parts of them, this is what I am feeling deeply grateful about while writing this, and feel it essential to highlight and honor. They’re amazing.
Following that first nerve-wracking, but exciting wedding, I started to “put myself out there” and photograph other weddings. It continued the path of uncovering one of the biggest “work loves” of my life….photographing people.
I felt like I had uncovered some sort of secret.
I felt like everyone else was crazy for not loving it as much as I did. And, at the time, facebook was non-existent, as was most social media, so photography wasn’t as “popular” or saturated as it is now. Before meeting Julie at thirteen, I had never met a professional photographer before, and I didn’t even fully realize it could be a profession. I loved it so much in fact, that it felt almost ethically “wrong” to accept payment.
Over the years, I have had the honor of photographing probably close to a hundred weddings. And while photographing weddings has never been my “full-time” job, I must say it has held a prominent place. It has been so prominent, because it matters so much, that it seems to pull me in in a deep place emotionally.
I am not just seeing things, I am feeling things.
I get immersed in the excitement, fears, and anticipation, and climax of it all. I have cried multiple times during ceremonies, and have learned how to effectively hide it behind the camera.
Through the years, I have danced with great-grandparents, been asked out by groomsmen, and I even gave a toast once. (long story, but it seemed appropriate…) I’ve held a gun in one hand and a camera in another, and I’ve helped get my brother down from a roof who was assisting me for the wedding and was getting the shot I really wanted. (Major props to my brother, Tucker!)
So thank you, to all of the brides and grooms I have been able to work with. I have felt deeply honored to be let into your story, and to be a little fly on the wall for one of the most life-changing days of your lives.
I have recently considered the option of not photographing weddings anymore. As a photographer, I have to admit that weddings can be stressful, make for long days, and always come with a lot of unexpected twists. But just like love, sometimes it’s the hard things that are worth the effort and emotional energy!
And when I think about not photographing them, I also go back to all of these collected memories. The idea of not making them anymore, or capturing them for others anymore makes me sad.
This whole blog post started with the intent of being a little “blurp” about how I am opening up my schedule for weddings again this year. And then I just got carried away as I started to type, and the “blurp” turned into an essay. 🙂 (So, I am going to “pull the trigger” and schedule the blog post before I change my mind.)
(And, for any of you who are reading this with any sort of English degree, I hope you have not written me off as an incompetent human being for my poor writing skills. Actually, you probably didn’t even make it this far, but if for some reason you did, I will have you know that this is being posted in it’s most raw, un-edited version. So save your judgements, listen to my playlist, light your own candles, and drink your own glass of wine. (wink wink))
So, back to my original point of writing this…. I have booked a few weddings for this year, and have a few spots left. If you, or anyone you know, is getting married this year, have them reach out! We can chat about their day, and the possibility of me being there with my camera around my neck.
Also, starting NOW, I would love to hear YOUR love story, or the love story of someone you love. I am hosting a contest, where if you simply post a photo of your and your lover with a story about the two of you, or a photo of a couple you admire with their story, you have a chance to win a mini photo session. Click here for the scoop.
Share this with friends, if you think they might be interested in entering as well!