“Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?”
I never stop being amazed at some of the people I’ve met and opportunities that have come my way via the internet and social media. Through blogging, I have met some of the most amazing people that have become some of the closest friends in my life (I briefly thought about tagging and linking to y’all here – but figured it would take too long, you know who you are, y’all know I love you and would move a body for you). I’ve gone to some great conferences. Had some great exposure to some great brands. I even learned how awful I am at doing laundry while getting to meet Tim Gunn at the same time. Y’know? Not too awful.
And as I have fallen in love with photography over the past several years, I have continually been exposed to photographers who showcase their work and mad skills on line – people with more talent in their little finger than I can shake a stick at. There’s an inspirational bunch of people out there – people who make me want to be better, people with such a clearly defined eye that just a glance at a photograph on my screen and sometimes I can identify who shot it (That KILLS me, y’all – when I can recognize someone’s art like that with absolutely nothing but the visual? Ah-maze-ing).
And sometimes those talented people reach out and give people like me an opportunity to come out and assist shooting an outdoor wedding in Detroit on a gorgeous eleventy-billion degree day.
Admittedly, I have only shot a few weddings – all small, intimate events. Typically, I’ve shied away from them altogether. I knew a photographer a long time ago who never shot weddings – absolutely refused – because, as she said, “You get one chance. That’s too much pressure.”
That’s kind of a cowardly way of thinking – but I see now what she means. There’s a whole lot of margin for error when shooting a wedding, and it IS stressful.
A good wedding photographer? Y’all don’t have ANY idea really JUST HOW MUCH TALENT it takes to shoot a wedding and shoot it well. And I give mad mad props to those who can, because not only are you charged with capturing the happy couple’s special day – face it, emotions are running high on a wedding day. People are stressed. You have all sorts of elements out of your control (hello WEATHER?). You have to just roll with it – come what may.
I had the opportunity to use some amazing glass that weekend. I had the opportunity to soak in knowledge from someone who has been doing this for YEARS. I had the opportunity to ask questions and really? I learned a lot that I will carry with me as I move forward and with whatever I do.
I am grateful that I was asked to assist – it was an opportunity and a lot of hands-on experience I would not have otherwise gotten. The wedding was beautiful, the bride and groom and their family and friends were joyous and beautiful and the occasion was a laughter-filled riot, including a lot of festive touches to incorporate the bride’s Armenian heritage (can I just say that I’m in love with the Armenian dancing? LOVED. IT. Truly).
I could have sat and just watched people all night.
And I did, to a degree – from behind a camera.
One of the things I have found more than anything through this experience is that my style of shooting – more by feeling and less by technicalities – doesn’t necessarily lend itself to weddings. I don’t know if I want to juggle and pose and organize and wrangle a wedding party. I want to sit back and catch those moments when a flower girl is grabbing her daddy by the hand and trying to drag him across the garden. I want to capture those moments when people aren’t looking – the backs of the groom’s parents, his arm wrapped around her, as they face the dance floor watching their son’s first dance with his bride. Flowers on a windowsill.
The discarded shoes of a bridesmaid who has traded her heels after a long day for a glitzy pair of flip flops. That’s what I want.
And it may not be what anyone else wants. Which, is why I don’t market myself as a wedding photographer, really. Shooting stills, things, candids of people, children being children… that’s what I really love. I love the moments that cannot be manufactured or recreated or staged – because I am simply no good at doing so… and I’m not sure that I want to be.
There’s a lot of criticism for photographers like me, I suppose. People who go by gut rather than a technical understanding of lighting and shutter speed all the clicky little buttons (I know I may have made the photographer cringe SEVERAL TIMES during this shoot! But he taught me a lot) – but, as I figure, you can learn that stuff. And I am. All the time. If you can’t see the world around you with passion and with perspective, though, you can’t really learn that.
I take any and all opportunities to learn and improve seriously and am grateful for those who are willing to reach out to people like me and mentor and teach and help us improve. I learned more in those hours on my feet than I had in awhile – and even though it was a long, HOT, difficult day I am so very glad I went.
But will I be shooting your wedding? Um. No. Probably not. I may Uncle Bob some moments at your reception, but beyond that? Call me when your ready for baby’s newborn shots. I’m SO there.