Friday, February 24, 2012

Weddings Aren't Just Good for Business...

This past Saturday, shooting a wedding, was a poignant reminder to me about how much more there is to photography than simply "business." Yes, weddings mean hours of preparation, hard work, editing, diplomacy, and more...
But this past weekend, shooting a wedding wasn't just good for business, it was good for my soul.

See, the week before a good friend of mine was in a terrible car accident. The initial reports from the Highway Patrol were that he died at the scene, but those reports turned out to be wrong. He survived (barely) the crash, and though in critical condition and with questionable brain function, was alive in the hospital. My friend (Dean Gittleson) was a pillar of our small town -- Little League board member, coach, friend, mentor...liked and respected by all. Our whole town hoped and prayed, and held our breath awaiting word of his condition. Finally the sad news came that he wasn't going to survive, and his family made the difficult but courageous decision to allow organ donation, so that his passing would help save the lives of seven other people.

Last Saturday started out, then, at the memorial service for my friend. It was a profoundly sad and moving morning, and it was difficult to say goodbye to him. I had been scheduled to photograph a wedding that afternoon for several months, and was a bit worried that I wasn't going to be in much of a mood to do so because of my friend's passing. Still, I did my preparations, and headed out to the wedding.

What happened when I got there surprised even me. The love and joy of two people starting out on their life together is infectious...and such a great uplift to me just when I needed it! It's hardly even possible to remain sad and depressed in such a joyful atmosphere -- and this wedding was even more joyful than many others.

Brandon and Ashley (above) are both in the Navy, stationed halfway around the world from each other. Trying to arrange leave at the same time for a wedding has been a real challenge for them, and last weekend was when they finally managed to pull it off. The bride flew in from Japan just two nights before the wedding, the groom just the day before. Most of the planning was done remotely, by the Maid of Honor -- who herself was working to plan this Southern California wedding from Utah, where she lives with her military husband. Think about how challenging it is to get everything set up for a wedding, and then add on doing it all from hundreds to thousands of miles could have easily been chaotic, frustrating, and disorganized, a real mess. Funny thing is, it was a little chaotic and disorganized...but a mess it wasn't. It was wonderful.

I suppose I've been very lucky over the years. Of all the weddings I've photographed, I've never been part of one of those famous "bridezilla" type of weddings. You know, the ones where the bride (or the groom, or the planner, or the mother in law) gets angry at any deviation from the "plan," where everyone is tense and on edge, where the slightest glitch induces anger, yelling, arguments...
Every wedding I've ever done has been a real love-fest. Sure, little things go wrong, and in the end nobody cares. The spirit of the day isn't lost, they don't forget why they're going through all of this, and little glitches get laughed off as quirks to be remembered. That's how last Saturday was as well. It was a celebration of love and family and friends, and it was exactly what I needed to remind me why I love doing what I do.

This one was also fun because the maid of honor that had done all the long-distance planning was a previous client -- I had photographed her wedding at the same church more than four years before. That's her and her husband above, right after being hitched! That they thought enough of me and my work to not only recommend me to their friends, but to trust me to take care of all the details without meeting up with everyone ahead of time (not possible in this case!) made me feel proud of my work, and very grateful to my clients. That's the happy couple from four years ago below, at this past weekend's affair, still happy and loving life.

It's so easy to lose yourself in the business of photography, in the technical details, in how much work something is. This past weekend was a reminder to me to remember how much I love what I do, and that what I do for people is record important moments in their lives that have great meaning to them...and to me. To be part of these moments isn't just business -- it's good for the soul.

Brandon and Ashley -- I wish you a lifetime of happiness. And thank you for sharing your love with the guy with the camera. It was just what I needed.

1 comment:

  1. aww! oh my goodness Paul! Thank you so much for everything you did for us. It was our joy to have to be a part of our day. Everything turned out just the way it was supposed to turn out... was it stressfull? No doubt about it but with you being the amazing photographer that you are you made our day so much better! looking back on the pictures you took we are in awe at all that you captured. the day to both of us is in a blur.. we wish we could relive every moment you captured on film. thank you sincerely for everything you have done and you better believe we will be reccommending you :) may God bless you.