When Rae and I first started shooting weddings, our ambition was…ambitious. And stupidly simple. We wanted to be the best photographers in Halifax. Period. Maybe even the world. I wanted to produce photos that kicked you in the eyes with maximum visual impact. Explosions of WOW!!!!! I wanted my 15 minutes of fame.
To anybody reading this blog who isn’t familiar with my style of blogging:
Sometimes I have something on my mind and so my blogs are only slightly related to the photographs. This is one of those blogs.
We figured that if we came at it with all the earnestness, persistence, creativity and single-mindedness we had going for us, we’d win. It never even occurred to me that I might fail. Looking back I’m not sure where all that gusto came from, but in devoting our being to the craft of photography, we sure learned A LOT in a short period of time. We were eating, breathing and sleeping lights, depth of field, compositions, posing, and post production. We had our eyes on glory (through the camera’s viewfinder).
We felt simultaneously delighted and vindicated when we got noticed, but down and out that we hadn’t yet won any international photography award. In fact, I wanted to be showered in awards. I wanted to win so many that they stopped having any meaning. We needed photos of unexpected moments, perfectly lit, framed exactly right, with maximum emotion and abstract enough that anybody could relate. That was the photo that won the award. We spent money that we didn’t have on camera gear, workshops, lessons, and software. My daydreams became filled with how I would capture that moment. Photography magazines came in the mail. Our circle of friends became mostly photographers. Our conversations became business, and business became life.
Our heath suffered. Our relationship suffered. Our sanity definitely suffered. Our line of credit suffered. We went vegan, took up meditation and yoga, and started to seriously budget our money. The international awards seemed less important.
Then, something happened. Someone died actually. I don’t know his name, but a bride we photographed called him Popsie and he was very, very important to her. She reached out to us to let us know, and to thank us for the photos we got of him. A particular photo we took of the two of them embracing suddenly took on more significance.
Of course, I knew that wedding photographs were important to families. I knew in my head that the photos were preserving memory and not just about awards, but suddenly I felt it in my bones too.
Rae knew this at an even deeper level than me. She lost her brother in a car accident 18 years ago and is very grateful that she has the professional senior portraits of him taken two weeks before the accident.
We stopped submitting our photos for contests. These contests began to seem like a sham…a bunch of people I’ve never met judging the quality of photos to events they didn’t attend. It seemed ludicrous to pine for the approval of anonymous photographers when our own clients were often opening up their hearts to us. It became more important to capture the photos that we thought clients would want to see (good photographs of intimate moments), rather than contest judges.
The wedding depicted in the photos below was another impactful reminder of this shift in priority. This wedding was at the beautiful Lot Six in Halifax, which happens to be a restaurant where the sister of a groom we photographed works as manager. When we met up with her she told us that her other brother (i.e., not the groom) had passed, and expressed tearful gratitude that we’d captured some of her favourite photos of the two of them together, laughing, hugging, dancing. We’d actually met her brother a few times and remembered him well, due to his disarmingly friendly way of conversing. The gravity of being a photographer hit me a little harder. It’s about the people…..