I am a shutterbug. Although I have the photography credit on eight published books, I am hesitant to call myself a photographer. I often lug several pounds of photography equipment with me wherever I go–hiking, shopping, when I have a meeting in another part of town–in the hopes of capturing just that one image. Not until I capture that one image, that one very special moment that tells a complete story, that transcends the moment, that is equal parts spontaneous, beautiful and true, I will not call myself a photographer.
In the meantime, however, I will photograph a wedding upon request. Ah, weddings! So much planning. So much expense. So many expectations. So many traditions. So many relatives. So many moving parts. Weddings are equal parts sacred, symbolic and silly. Think about it: A wedding veil? Sacred, yes. Symbolic, yes. Silly? In any other circumstance, yes. The same goes for wedding cakes and wedding shoes and bouquets and ring bearers and tin cans tied to the car bumper. At their essence, in other words, weddings are family. Therefore, weddings are humanity. That is why I strive to capture a few images that really express humanity. I photograph moments. Moments are emotions. The most treasured images from the day will likely not be the group photos, but the moment the mother-of-the-bride silently glances around her daughter’s childhood room once last time. Those are the moments I look for. Those are the moments I want to capture for you to keep. I photograph the mother- and father-of-the-groom snuggling in the candlelight remembering their own wedding day. I photograph the moment when the otherwise stoic brother-of-the-bride, wracked with PTSD after serving in Iraq, breaks down in tears as he dances with his baby sister.
As a wedding photographer, while neither a relative, nor particularly close to the couple, I am nonetheless the one person with whom the couple will be spending the most time during this much anticipated day. I am a photojournalist by training and setting up photographs is almost anathema to me. If you are looking for a fashion spread, don’t ask me to photograph your wedding. You’re better off buying a fashion magazine.
As a photojournalist at heart, the last thing I want to do is be part of the wedding story. I want more than anything for the couple and the family to experience the day as if I, the photographer, were not even there. Yet, because I am always observing, I am quick to feel a change in the emotional temperature of the room. If I notice tensions bubbling, I will push my journalistic training to the side, extricate myself from my silent observer role and discretely intervene. For example, I noticed when a hapless father was feeling a bit left out by his daughter on this important day. I made a point to find a quiet place to photograph just the two of them together so that the father could say a few private words while I rummaged in my gear bag. And importantly, I have held last minute, high-level negotiations with an immovable ring bearer (major provision of this peace accord: the ring bearer gets two pieces of wedding cake, not one).
And I notice so much more. Therefore, in my gear bag, I carry an assortment of things besides lenses and flashes. I carry stylist’s tape and safety pins for droopy dresses, a needle and thread, Band-aids, bobby pins, a bit of dish liquid (for fruit acid stains), salt (for red wine), baking soda (for almost everything else). So go ahead and have a mimosa or red wine or chocolate fondue: I’ve got you covered. You think that’s your maid-of-honor’s job? You remember how she barely made it through sophomore year. And you expect her to remember dish liquid and bobby pins? No, I got this.
I watch, I watch out, I keep the peace, I shoot photos. The result? Well, I do know a thing or two about bokeh and rule of thirds and the golden hour and symmetry. I have shot some beautiful photographs. But in a more subtle and important way, I think I may have softened some stressors, and allowed the truly beautiful, happy moments in those images to unfold.
Trust me, I want to capture those beautiful images more than you do. I want to capture that one image that makes me a photographer. I would be thrilled if that happened at your wedding.
Contact me for more information.