There comes a time when my friends who’ve just ecstatically announced that they’re engaged must make a decision. Some, I know (because they’ve told me so) have already made this decision long before any dream proposals…because I can’t be everywhere. I can’t do it all. Even though we all know that that is exactly what I’ll try to do.
There comes a time when my friends who’ve just ecstatically
announced that they’re engaged must make a decision. Some, I know (because they’ve told me so)
have already made this decision long before any dream proposals…because I can’t be everywhere. I can’t
do it all. Even though we all know
that that is exactly what I’ll try to
But – the decision is this: Is my wedding photographer friend going to be IN my wedding, a
GUEST at my wedding, or is she going to actually BE my Wedding Photographer? It’s a tricky decision to come to, because…all
three roles are entirely different,
and very rarely – if ever – do the lines containing those roles ever blur.
Although, as a wedding photographer? I’ve certainly heard a
friend or two proclaim, “You should’ve
been a bridesmaid…” as I fluff her dress or help to remove her veil. And, I’ll smile and catch her eye and quietly
say just between us, “I am…just one with
a camera.” She knows, immediately,
what I mean. This is my career. I’m safer here; THIS is what I KNOW how to
do. This is the BEST way I know how to
share in a wedding day with someone, to ensure that they don’t just have these
moments for today…but forever…through photographs.
Being a guest, really, is always something I enjoy though
too. When you go to as many weddings as
we wedding photographers go to? It’s
like getting an invitation to Cinderella’s Castle when that pretty wedding
invite finds it’s way to my mailbox.
From head to toe…nearly everything changes. My ninja black photographer’s ensemble is
traded for a pretty dress – that, I promise you – I spent a ridiculous amount
of time selecting. My hair isn’t “up and
out of the way” but perhaps “up and damn this looks good!” I’ll probably still be in flats…because
Casie’s don’t do heels, but they won’t
be my working sneakers…and you’ll find me out on the dance floor, drink in
It is RARE to see me with a camera in my hand if my role
doesn’t require one. Although – I’ve been caught looking at
something for just a fraction of a second too long…a detail on your reception
table, a moment between you and your groom…and caught eyeing it as a photographer;
in a way that no one else could see it.
Sean will most definitely lean closer to me and say, “Just take the photo, babe…it’s what you
do.” And I will. But it’s a personal shot, just a moment in
time that I happened to witness, that I needed to have. Then it’s back to the dancing and the
Trust me, my comfort zone is definitely behind the
camera. Where, in that role, I’m constantly seeking those moments — I
can’t MISS those moments – and I’m in hot pursuit of the best angles, the best
lighting, and making SURE that every single second of one of the biggest days of
your life is captured forever. Plus, I
get to go home – tired and sore…but sober!
I take being a guest pretty dang seriously, and a bridesmaid
even more so. Everyone’s got a job on
the wedding day – and, if you didn’t hire me to capture your big day? Then I’m not going to do the job of the guy
who’s there to do exactly that…because then MY job has become to ensure the
bride’s as cool as a cucumber, or to dance and drink and be merry.
Besides, nothing – as a photographer – makes me more anxious
than seeing a guest with a big ass camera standing right behind me acting as my
adorable photographic shadow. As your
photographer? That’s their moment to
shine — they’re in charge of the photographs.
I’m just in charge of the cha-cha sliding and doing my best to smile
pretty when in front of the camera.
Sure, I’ll probably take a few instagram photos at your
wedding (I’m known for sneaking one or two of these if I’m your wedding
photographer anyway) – but, I take it seriously to be present in the moment too. I
would be HORRIFIED to be one of the “paparazzi” family members who appear in
the background of all your photos with a camera glued to their face. No, sir.
Sean and I were some of the first people to arrive that
afternoon, and the last to leave that evening. We stayed until the lights came on, the photo booth was being taken
down, and the bar had long been closed. Only a handful of cupcakes remained on their tiers, a few had fallen
over from being bypassed for other flavors that stood behind them.
Months ago in Orlando, we ran into the bridal party at EPCOT
as they were celebrating Lauren and Dave’s “Last Fling before the Ring”– where
Sean and I had both been informed, multiple times, that we were to ENJOY this
wedding (we always do!) – NO, really. ENJOY.This.Wedding. That wasn’t a polite invitation from the
Bride’s Mom…that was an order. Having a Northeast Mom of my very own – I know when an order’s an order.
And, so…at EPCOT…months ago…we had promised. It was only natural then that a bridesmaid,
upon seeing us towards the end of the evening with only our point and shoot
camera, and beers in hand…perusing our prop options at the photo booth table
proclaimed, “Ohmygod! I’m SO.PROUD. of
I don’t think that they believed it would happen. In truth, this was the FIRST TIME that I had
let the wall down and allowed it to
happen…but, we, the wedding day photographers, had transitioned from just that
– to bonafide guests. And as we left
that evening, we received hugs from her bridesmaids and his groomsmen, the
bride’s father, and friends of theirs that we had just met a few short hours
ago. We had shared a few good laughs
with them throughout the day, captured them as they teared up when two became
one, we were all there for the same reason – to ensure that Lauren and Dave had
the most incredibly perfect day of their lives. And, I think we accomplished
just that…and maybe even then some.
We were on our way back to the hotel that evening, our box
of carefully chosen cupcakes in the backseat, multiple photo booth images of us
with the bride and groom resting quietly on the dashboard – our car winding
through darkened, hilly, northeast roads and I couldn’t stop smiling.
I know a ton of photographer’s who won’t so much as consider
capturing even a remotely good friend’s wedding, and maybe they have some very
good reasons for it. This is a
decision, entirely, for my friends to make though. And, typically, they decide to have me attend
as a bridesmaid or guest. I think because
they’re afraid I won’t “enjoy myself as much” if they decide to hire me as
their photographer. But, here’s the
thing. I simply LOVE what I do. I can rarely ever shut it off; photography is
one of the biggest pieces of my heart. In fact, I’ve been known to tell people that they could take my vision –
and I would STILL find a way to photograph the world around me.
So, for me – for this
wedding photographer? This is EXACTLY
why I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in the whole wide world. I just captured my best friend’s wedding,
with the love of my life by my side. We
were there for every single moment, and when it came time to pack up and leave
– or stay and become guests? I looked at
Sean and smiled, “Let’s go have a beer
with our friends…”
And, so – hand in hand – we walked back inside, and did
Does it happen at every wedding? Absolutely not. But, for me? That night was pure magic in finally understanding that it’s okay – once all the photos are captured
– to cross that line ever so slightly, lower the lens, and raise a glass to our
friends who have just started this incredible new journey in their lives.