I started photographing weddings professionally when my youngest son was 6 months old and my oldest was 2.5 years old. When my business started I was in the thick of their babyhood, when every milestone was important and needed to be documented by me, the pro. Every family event and every school event necessitated me packing up my various bodies and lenses. The idea to me to not bring them would have been totally unthinkable. I considered this my “gift” to be shared not only with my family as a documentation of our legacy, but for my friends as well.
As time grew on, digital changed the face of photography and the cameras moved from unbelievably expensive to being reachable to the average Joe and available at Best Buy. Around this same time, I was feeling something different about photographing my kids. I wanted to watch my kids school play in real time. I wanted to experience life without the camera in front of my face because as soon as it goes there, my mind works in f stops and shutter speeds and not how adorable they are singing that song.
I do not take casual photos, ever. Every time I snap a photo, be it on a 4K worth of camera gear or my iPhone, I am thoughtfully composing the photo for the best light, surroundings and outcome of the photo. Occupational hazard.
Photographers are getting used to having guests and bridesmaids post photos now more than even and as a colleague and I spoke about recently put it “If their photos look better than ours, then we have something to worry about”. For the most part we don’t really care if guests take photos as long as it doesn’t interfere with our job. We know you want to share photos, we get it.
What breaks my heart is to see parents taking photos through their children’s wedding. Of course I don’t begrudge you some photos. But for those important, key moments…watch with your eyes and your heart. I’ve got this, okay?
Because let’s face it, you just paid me THOUSANDS of dollars to photograph this once in a lifetime event and now you are walking out into the aisle to snap a photo with your iPhone? Oh and by the way, you just blocked my shot of the groom seeing his bride for the first time.
Put your camera down. Watch her come up the aisle. Watch his face when he sees her.
I always think that when I die, there will be an epic slideshow of my life that will flash before my eyes. I imagine that in it will be moments in time of my life that were life changing, snippets of feelings and sounds and even smells and yes, photos. But not just photos.
There’s no photo of when my son Caleb was placed into my arms after he was born, but I remember so many things about that moment. My relief, the awe, his fuzzy little head, the smell of the room, his father’s words to me. That memory is as powerful as any photo I have of him in those early days.
My hope is that when I take that epic photo of your child getting married, you’ll not only love the visual of the photo, but you’ll remember that feeling.
Put your camera down. Add a memory to your life slideshow. Be present.