OK, I’ve only posted one flashback wedding entry so far… between editing my current weddings and portrait sessions, consults with new clients, and life-in-general, I haven’t had much time to go back and look through these older weddings to find images to post. In fact, the only thing I’ve managed to accomplish for this project is getting the backup disks restored to an external drive, so that I have easy access to all of my past weddings.
one image from each of my first five weddings, 2002:
Copying those images from disk to drive has been a remarkable experience for me. A few weddings I ran across already seeing the full image set in my head long before popping the disk in the drive. A few others, it took opening the image files to remember… but once I saw image #0001 in the directory, the memories came flooding back.
It turns out, I remember every wedding. Every bride and groom. Every flowergirl and ringbearer. Every tearful toast and raucous dance-off. I even remember where I was when I shot each event… emotionally, physically, where I was in my head, what was happening in my life.
I guess it’s been over the last week that I have really realized: this isn’t just a job.
If it were “just a job”, I’d pull the images from 2004-05-15, select the best for the blog, tell you that the bride’s name was Carson, the groom’s name was Mike, they got married on Bald Head Island… and I’d walk away. I wouldn’t spend thirty minutes sifting through the images, remembering Carson’s quirky sense of humor, the mishap as she exited the golfcart for the ceremony (that I caught on film – but politely omitted from the proofset because, eh, it wasn’t cute). I wouldn’t reminisce about the connection I had with this couple, how we laughed and joked while I… did my job. The job that doesn’t feel like a job. The job that leaves me with so many memories, so many connections, so much joy.
I have been witness to countless different ways of loving, each one valid and right for that particular couple, each one unique and wonderful and impossible to explain. I’ve heard secrets and watched as family members put old grudges aside to welcome a new member into the fold. I’ve watched brides break down over the silliest little details; I’ve even watched as a bride berated her entire wedding party for not being pretty enough (not kidding). I’ve also witnessed a bride hold everything together while the details of her wedding silently fell apart around her. I’ve met loving moms and bitter moms, prideful dads and detached dads, bridesmaids who sulked, groomsmen who arrived drunk, and wedding parties who were there only to support and love their friends, their brothers, their sisters. I’ve seen a lot.
Going through these old weddings over the past week has reminded me. Of every little wondrous emotion I have felt over the last nine years, witnessing these weddings. Your weddings. Your loves, your families, your friends, your dreams. I not only witnessed them, but in a small way, I was a part of them. I am 100% invested in each wedding from the moment I take my first shot until the day…. well, I haven’t reached that day yet.
This has been a happy week for me! Reliving these weddings, engagements, bridals… it’s revived a part of me that I forgot about… the part that keeps me doing this, year after year. The part that doesn’t let me get a “real job” with real benefits and a steady paycheck.
My flashback post series was spurred on by a desire to share some of my older work, work that never made it to my blog because no one was blogging back then… work that has been long hidden on backup disks in safes and storage lockers. I’ve shot some incredible events at amazing venues, and I hated the thought that all that work and history wouldn’t be seen by new clients and blog followers. In a way, it was a selfish mission – I wanted a little more exposure for some awesome work I’ve done in the past, and this was a fun way to get there.
But now that I’m really sinking my teeth into the series, planning out my posts, picking images, and reviewing all these weddings… I can see that there is a much better reason to share these with you. These images all have a bit of me in them. I could have spent the last nine years working a dull (but predictable) job, earning a modest salary, enjoying decent benefits, and getting to sleep in my own bed every night. But I chose this path instead. I chose endless road hours chugging red bull and coffee, thirty thousand miles a year, becoming a part of another family for one day, telling their stories, finding myself in those stories.
These weddings are part of my story, and this is the best way I can tell it.
And because I firmly believe every blog entry should have lots of photos, here’s one of aforementioned Carson and Mike, after their ceremony on Bald Head Island in May of 2004. Just look at these two. How could I even try to be disconnected from that? Their day is one of hundreds that have put me where I am today.
I love this job.