As wedding photographers we have to remember that this is not just another job for our clients, it is not a contract or a pay day, it is not wedding number 12 or 463, the weddings we capture belong to the families, friends, and couples who we work with.
As wedding photographers we never have the right to become frustrated and disgruntled, or to see wedding photography as a end to a mean, a stepping stone, a back up plan, a way to make a living—even if it is for many of us. We do shoot weddings to pay the bills, we do become frustrated with difficult clients, and exhausted after 12 hours on our feet, we are at times undervalued and overexerted, but these weddings don't belong to us they belong to those we work with.
We have the honor of sharing in someone’s life story. In their love story! In a day they have dreamed about since they were young, looking back at old pictures of mom and dad, VHS wedding videos, and romantic movies with the perfect ending. Couples ask us to capture their day from wide eyed flower girls and invisible kisses, to their families and friends, their loved ones. We are asked to blend in and move silently among these different lives all interacting with one another.
We steal images, freeze moments, and hand over a gift when the day is done.
Our images, will be ones hung on the wall and sent to grandparents and best friends.
Our images, will be the ones that get pulled out five years later when the couple celebrates their fifth year together.
Our images, will be looked at when Aunt Sue gets cancer and after the grooms grandfather passes.
Our images, are how they will be remembered, the family shots, the candids, laughter and love. A wedding is a celebration of everything these families hold dear.
Our images, are more valuable then we will ever realize.
There are stories and relationships caught up within every shot, and the script writers, the story tellers, wont take on their rolls for many years. It won't be until sickness and loss bring back memories and old albums. It wont be until a blushing little daughter points at a dusty frame and says dad looks young and handsome. It wont be until relationships last for 50 years, and wrinkles make beauty a term much deeper than skin. Then, in time, our images will be story books, memories, smiles and tears and the stories they hold will be cherished.
Often I hear other photographers exclaim that they “hate shooting weddings, but it pays the bills” or they “shoot weddings so they pursue their real passion on the side.” I have had friends and family members, other photographers, professors, and clients who encouraged me to pursue something else. Explaining that “Weddings are difficult, brides can be trouble, grooms can get drunk, the days are to long and the work under-appreciated. There is too much competition and too many family friends with a DSLR.” I have heard it all and think that it is good advice—for photographers who do weddings because “they have to.”
If you don’t love your job, if you don’t value your clients, if you don't work and stress and seek out ways to capture a better image, to tell a better story—If you don't love weddings, don't shoot weddings—your clients deserve better.
As wedding photographers—we have an amazing job and a terrifying responsibility. Cherish it.