Weddings were not what I originally wanted to get into. I had this dream of being a high fashion photographer for Vogue magazine, and traveling all over the world being able to shoot Lara Stone, Gisele, or Doutzen Kroes. But I was definitely kidding myself…I am a home body. There is no way I could live that life! I need to be around the people I love, need to hug them, and dance with them, and laugh with them. And you can’t do that to the fullest behind a phone or a screen.
So, once I realized that I could not do that kind of photography. I went to school that day and talked to an advisor that told me that the program I was in (media & communication arts) was really geared towards web/graphic designers, game designers, etc. and that I was going to have to do all my own searching to find a studio to work for because they really had not contacts to provide for me. When I got home, I cried on my bed for two hours thinking I would never get to do what I wanted. Then I started surfing the web, I think I googled something like “photography studios metro detroit”. I then proceeded to send 10 emails to each of the first ten studios that came up in my search. I heard back from none of them. Then, a week later, on my birthday, I got a call from my now boss, Jason Samkowiak of JS. Photography saying that they were looking for a second shooter for weddings, and that he could use me that weekend. I said yes, got all of the info, and we hung up. Then I was like…omg what am I getting myself into!? Wedding photography sounds awful, long hours, bridezillas, drunk groomsmen. NO THANKS.
I should have known I would fall in love immediately, because I am a huge romantic sap. Are the hours long? HELL YES. I come home with every joint in my body aching, and usually with a headache. There are DEFINITELY some bridezillas, but I haven’t come across one I can’t handle (yet). And there are definitely ALWAYS at least one really drunk obnoxious groomsmen, but they aren’t hard to handle either.
Other photographers I’ve talked to (mostly ones I went to school with) almost seemed to have this snarky, har har, oh bless your dear sweet heart, attitude when I said I had started doing weddings. Almost like they were looking down on me for doing that because it’s cliché, and mundane, and not REAL photography. I have two theories about this.
Number 1 is that they have never shot a wedding before and CLEARLY have NO IDEA what they are talking about.
Number 2 is that they have tried it in the past and failed miserably because you know what? IT’S F***ING HARD. Between the time crunch, having to manage the bridal party & newlyweds families, making sure you get all the shots that they want and you NEED to get, and LOADS of other unexpected things that always come up…it’s overwhelmingly exhausting. AND YOU HAVE ONE CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT. Because guess what, you can’t redo a couples first kiss at the altar after they’re pronounced husband and wife, you just CAN’T. You can try to re-pose it if you don’t get a good shot of it, but it is NEVER the same as that first time. And if you don’t get that shot, you WILL hear about it…from multiple people…over the next few months…and you will be humiliated.
Besides that…the 3 hours you have between the ceremony and reception you think you have? HA. You will probably get half that time because between driving to locations, getting everyone to LISTEN to you so you can pose them, and wardrobe malfunctions…the moments just slip away faster than you can even being to imagine.
And then there the people (and they are at EVERY wedding) that come up to you at the reception that say “oh did you get a shot of this? did you get a shot of that?” (which are always shots that are must haves that I do at every wedding) And I want to say “you know what? No I didn’t! This is my first wedding I’ve ever shot by myself and I have no idea what I’m doing!” Then I want to snatch the stupid dinky little Canon powershot out of their hand and chuck it into a pond.
PHEW! Rant over…can you tell what really pushes my buttons? LOL. But all the whole reason for this post is to share why I love shooting weddings…so FINALLY…here it is…
Every couple is different, every ceremony is different, every reception is different, every detail is different. Weddings are not all the same. Every couple puts some kind of personal touch on their big day that makes it “them”. The sacrament of marriage is holy and beautiful and something to be cherished, and none of that is seen more than on a couples wedding day because it is one of the most important days of your life. The love in their eyes is undeniable and remarkable and helps remind that even in this crazy world we live in, amazing things still exist.
I really do think that having the wedding (and husband) of my dreams has molded me into a better photographer. The sole factor being that my perspective has changed. I’ve been a bride, and that makes a HUGE difference because I’ve walked in those shoes. I know now how every single little detail is important and that brides want their hard work documented to perfection. I know how long it takes to plan a wedding and how fast the day actually goes when the day finally comes. I know the kind of comfort and reassurance you get when everyone from the photographer to your guests tell you how awesome your wedding was.
The food gets eaten, the dress gets put in a box, the flowers wilt, and people forget. What helps remind you of how amazing it was is photographs. You display them proudly on Facebook and in frames at your house as a reminder of that special day. And on days your spouse is being really annoying, or did something stupid, you will pass them in the hallway and glance at them and they will remind you of how happy you were that day and how blessed you are to have them and it will start the resolution process. I know this because I’ve lived it.
The incredible emotion on your face the day of your wedding that is captured in a photograph cannot be matched, duplicated, or redone. For me it’s the happiness in a brides voice and on her face when she sees her wedding photos for the first time. That is what I live for.
And here is a really good example from a shot I took this past May