When people ask me how many weddings I have booked for the year, I tell them the number, and I always follow up with a, “but that could change.” I do this because it inevitably does. Every year without fail there seems to appear the unorganized bride who waited until six weeks before the wedding to actually plan the wedding. Or the bride whose husband is unexpectedly being deployed. Or the bride who just wants to get the damn wedding over with and refuses to waste away the obligatory year of engagement musing over flower arrangements and place cards.
But I’ve never had anyone book a week before the wedding. In a panic. In another city. Because their photographer double booked and didn’t offer a reasonable solution to the gaping problem he created. Nope, that’s a new one. So I bought a ticket and got on a plane. (More after the jump)
When the first thought of pursuing photography professionally came to the forefront of my mind, part of its appeal was the sense of adventure it brought about. This concept of meeting new people, seeing new places, photographing the unique and the beautiful; it was very glamorous.
But the reality of a photographer’s life is very much different than this. It’s hours hunched over in the dark editing photos to the soundtrack of retched late night comedy shows. It’s swollen limbs and feet that feel like they could crack in two after long days and nights traversing dance floors and hotel hallways. It’s hurried timelines and emotional rollercoasters as you navigate the murky waters of responsibility that come with documenting one of the most important days of a person’s life. It’s quite the opposite of glamorous.
Despite all this, photography is like my bad high school boyfriend. He batters me, he makes me tired, he tells me I’m not good enough, he makes me do all the work for sometimes what feels like very little reward. And yet, I return. Because something about it is just so damn enticing, I can’t possibly bear to let it go.
My friends tell me he’s no good for me, but it’s too late, I’m a lost cause. I’m entranced by the feeling he gives me, by the magic we create together, by the elusive aching of pursuit.
Because at the end of the day, no matter how difficult the journey, no matter how unglamorous the circumstances, there is this.
There’s the undeniable thrill of creating something that matters. Something that will be immeasurably meaningful to someone else. Something that lasts perhaps beyond me.
This is the way quiet people like me get to leave their mark on the world. What a privilege.
My back hurts something fierce today, and my eyes are foggy from the scant sleep I got last night in the midst of busy wedding editing season, but yet I’m so incredibly thankful. Some days this responsibility seems to much to bear, but even amidst the saturated sagging of my heavy heart and the arduous burden that presses down on my shoulders, I’m just so grateful to be chosen to be here.
It’s not completely the life I’d imagined when I dreamed of a photographer’s life ten years ago, it’s not always perfect or exotic. But sometimes you get to buy a plane ticket one week in advance, fly somewhere you never planned to go, meet beautiful people you’d otherwise never have known, witness what it looks like when serendipity and fate come together to create something huge and lasting, and take on the honor of documenting it all.
Maybe it isn’t usually glamorous, but it’s always completely captivating.
A huge thank you to Damon and Claire for allowing me to photograph their beautiful wedding day at Meridian Hill Park in Washington D.C. and reception in the backyard of their home in Maryland. Coordinating by Laura Levengard at We Plan You Party.