If another photographer was to judge this photograph based on the normal standards, they would probably think it was a terrible shot. It is completely blurry and isn’t well framed at all. This photo itself is not a good indicator of the quality of our work as photographers. However, it is one of my favorite photographs of 2007, and I feel it is a great indicator of who we are as photographers because of the story behind it.
Lauren & Danté planned their wedding on November 10, 2007 for over a year. Matter of fact, they booked their original wedding photographers in August, 2006. When it comes to weddings though, things sometimes don’t go as planned. I know November 10th didn’t follow the plan for Elaine & myself, and it definitely didn’t follow the plan for Lauren & Danté. Their photographer, for reasons that are still unclear, did not show up.
Elaine & I spent the first half of November 10th photographing the wedding of Mercedes & Tim, as was planned. We started shooting at 8am, and the reception wrapped up a bit early and we were on our way home by 4pm in the afternoon. I decided to go to Elaine’s house to download her photos from the day (I do all of the post-processing of the photographs), and as I was downloading photos, Elaine decided to check her email and Twitter messages. Turned out, it was perfect timing – our friend Mark Austin had sent us a message asking if we were available to shoot a reception that night. Confused, we started making phone calls so we could get the rest of the story and work out the details.
Dan, the owner of BarStool magazine – who we have done shoots for in the past – was in Lauren & Danté’s wedding. And when it was determined that the original contracted photographer was not showing up, he started making phone calls which lead him to us. When we learned all of this, I pointed out to Elaine that if my photographer had not shown up at my wedding, it would have been the worst thing possible next to my husband not showing up – the car was still loaded, we were in “wedding” clothes, and I simply had to do it. I could not possibly leave them in such a bind. She agreed, and we were off.
One problem? We were about 30-40 minutes from The Woodlands, and the wedding was originally scheduled to start in 15 minutes from the time we got off the phone. We took the fastest route possible to get there, on the phone with Dan and the coordinator much of the way, and they held the ceremony for our arrival.
We are always treated very graciously by guests at a wedding, and have been complimented frequently for our professional attitudes and how we treat all the guests, but this wedding? We were treated the entire night like superheros, from the minute we arrived. As we walked in the door, I had my camera in my hand ready to start shooting – and the photograph above was the result of me practically throwing the camera over my head to get the whole scene. Lauren is there, about to hug Elaine who is in front of me. Tami, her mother, is giving us the “you scored!” move in the background. Morgan, one of the maids of honor, is reaching out to hug Elaine too. Everyone and everything is a mixture of emotions, and I still get a warm fuzzy feeling when I look back at this photograph.
It still breaks my heart to know that there is a vendor out there that don’t follow through with their commitments. It makes me feel great though to know that we were there and able to be a part of their special day. The entire experience has made me so very thankful that we could be there for them.
Which takes me to the second photograph.
Elaine & I have known each other for years, and in my opinion, we make a fabulous team while photographing weddings. As the ceremony begins, Elaine takes her place inside the venue and photographs everyone as they come down the aisle. Meanwhile, I stay with the bride until the last possible moment, capturing the emotions that are happening out there. Then, right as they close the doors to prepare for her to walk down the aisle, I enter and speed walk up to the front of the aisle to capture the expression on the groom’s face when he first sees her enter.
This is Danté, at the moment that he first saw Lauren.
What makes this photograph so important to me is not just in the photo itself, it is in what Danté told me a few weeks later. One Saturday, Mike (my husband) & I were out Christmas shopping at The Woodlands Mall. I had talked to Lauren earlier that day, and we had discussed maybe getting together for dinner. After dealing with the crush of the mall, I called Lauren and learned that they were heading over to Morgan’s house. (Morgan, the maid of honor from above.) They were having a Wii party, and we were invited.
As the evening went on at the party, Danté & I were talking about the wedding and all that happened that day. He brought up this photograph, and told me that it was one of his favorite shots. He said how he could feel how happy, nervous, scared, joyous he was at that moment – all the emotions rolled up into one – as he looks at it now. That it captured it all for him. But the best part? He told me, “I never saw you. I never saw either one of you (Elaine) – I didn’t even know you were there. I had no idea that you took that photograph until I saw it later on.”
Seriously? That makes me, as a wedding photographer, so happy. That is my goal. To capture the moments that no one else realizes are happening. To be unobtrusive while taking photographs, blending in almost as another guest. To see the little things that you will otherwise forget someday. To see it all and to gather as much of it as possible with my camera. When I have done that, I know I have done my job to the best of my abilities. When the wedding day is over, and anything remaining is packed away, the photographs are all that are left. Knowing that we are responsible for that? That years from now, our photographs will be full of cherished memories? Well, I can honestly say it is the best job in the world.
This one day, in the end, was a turning point for so many reasons in what I do – I can’t even put it all into words.
I’ll share more photos from their wedding over the next few days, but I felt that so much of what I do is wrapped up in these two photographs, they deserved a post of their own.