Life Lessons from a Wedding Photographer
Weddings are some of the most important days of people's’ lives - it is literally the party of their lifetime. We collect people and things over the years that will help make our special day, well, special. Wedding photographers are there to do the collecting of the memories and moments that day for you, preserving your day in photograph for years and generations to come.
But, I am not a simple bystander in the day. I have to observe and interact strategically that support the mood of the day while simultaneously elevating it in almost a silent manner. I do find myself hilarious and often refer to myself as a ninja-cowboy mix as I weave through the crowds with my two cameras in hand (and well, hanging from me) to grab moments.
In the past three years, I can proudly say I have photographed or help photograph over 50 weddings. That means 50+ couples, 50+ groups of families and friends, 50+ stories and moments, and days that I helped freeze in time. While collecting these memories, I have also collected some general life advice that I keep to the side for myself, and I would love to share the top 3 that I believe apply to our everyday lives.
1) Let yourself sleep. The worst wedding days are not those that the caterer runs late or the flowers are wrong (or even that the mother-in-law showed up in white) but those that the couple (and sometimes even the wedding party) is literally falling asleep. No matter how aesthetically pleasing your wedding day is or if things do or don't run on time, it is all wasted away because you cannot experience it.
As the photographer, it is my job to help you remember the moments, but even photographs and videos can’t give you justice to experiencing the day. This applies to everyday events as well - keeping yourself grounded is a type of vulnerability that helps us feel alive. And, as science and experience have proven, good sleep means good times while awake.
2) You are not obligated to keep certain people in your life. The best weddings I have been to are those with smaller ceremonies, letting those you really love be part of that big moment. Sometimes, this means it is just the couple and two witnesses. These couples made the conscious choice to say “no” to family, friends, and peers (and sometimes even wedding vendors) to make their day (and life), theirs.
*as a note, sometimes these couples keep a small reception or decide to throw a huge party to celebrate with those families/friends/peers. But, they set the precedent that selectivity is important!
3) Humans are social creatures, and there is no such thing as work-life balance-- and that is good. Our jobs are part of our everyday lives, and although professional boundaries are super important, society has become a bit high-strung on keeping them separate, and sometimes we accidentally corner ourselves into loneliness trying to find or fit into that balance. I have seen couples resent not having “newer” friends closer on their wedding days, and even regret having some older ones as close as they did. Friends, collected from anywhere, are timeless. Do not miss out on a potentially good one, just because you work at the same company 40+ hours a week. If anything, use work as an excuse to meet more people who you want to integrate into your daily life.
Eventually, I want to integrate these tips into my own brand and the stories I get to share. When I eventually finish my own website (the irony, I know, I work in marketing full-time and have thousands of photos in content, yet have the hardest time marketing/advertising myself), I want to create a series of these types of lessons and the unique stories that went behind them. Weddings are transformative for me, but couples usually walk onto the other side learning more about themselves and life. I am lucky that they share these learnings with me, knowing that I may further share them with the world.