Why Do You Want a Wedding Photographer?
It sounds like a silly question doesn't it? But when we think about it, it's a huge question. One that should be determining your criteria for who you are actually hiring to hold this great responsibility. What it's really asking is, "What's the point?" Obviously you'll have memories of the day. Obviously your loved ones will be next to you, witnessing everything that's happening, so why photography? I believe the heart of this discussion is actually a different question altogether:
Who do you want to see your wedding photos?
I have no idea who the couple in this photo is. Lord knows if I did, I would have gently explained my opinion on the longevity of a ruffled dress shirt. They are young 20-something's with decades of life in front of them and no stress of children. Ah, you see where I'm going with this now don't you? Yes, this newly wedded couple are my parents, but it's still true that I have no idea who these 20-something kids are. More accurately, I had no idea. I've only ever known the Mom & Dad version of these people. It wasn't until stumbling across a box of photos in our basement as I prepared for their surprise 40th anniversary party that I discovered my dad was the original hipster! The guy in the photo with high-waisted tiiiiiight jeans, a big ol' beard and a PBR in hand couldn't possibly be my conservative father? Does.Not.Compute. Yet, it's all true. And you know I'm thrilled to have learned the truth. ;-)
I'm making my point with humor, but it only takes one phone call from a bride this summer to ask if we could possibly send over a few photos earlier than expected to remind me why I became a wedding photographer. The photos would be used for a display at her uncle's unexpected visitation and funeral services.
Your photos will spur amazing memories for you and your spouse to reminisce about in the future. In my opinion, they'll do more than initiate the fun retelling of great stories. They'll also remind you of how you felt that day. They'll bring the butterflies back when you turn to the pages in your wedding album that document your First Look. They'll bring back the tearful joy of your dad's speech and the laughter of your friends on the dance floor. These are reasons enough to have meaningful photos, but what if someone that was not even at your wedding could feel all those same emotions?
I am a wedding photographer because I deeply believe that having access to a visual legacy is important for the generations of people that come after us (perhaps even more than it is for ourselves). Ironically, as meaningful as the photos we make for ourselves are right now, I've experienced that they become far more important when someone else inherits them. Yes, my parents' wedding photos are important to them, but I've looked at those photos far more often than they have.
The truth is, I don't document your wedding for you.
When you have memories of a person, you think of them whether you are looking at a photo or not. But when you don't have your own memories, how do you know who that person was? How can you learn about how contagious their laughter was or the excitement they found in being the center of attention? How do you learn that even with being 6 years apart, you practically could have been your sister's twin?
You two know each other. You know your quirks and what makes you tick. You know what you can do after a long day to help your spouse relax and what gets their eyes rolling. All of these things make up who you are and I firmly believe your story matters. But your story also matters outside of yourself. Your story matters for people in 25 years. A great niece will want to learn about those quirks. A great grandson will want to discover his penchant for terrible jokes reminds you of your own grandfather. Countless generations into the future will want to experience your story because their life will be intrinsically linked to yours.
While you are thinking about what wedding photographer to hire that might get you published on Style Me Pretty, I'm thinking about how I can get to know you well enough to be able to document your authentic personality. Not for your husband to look at on his desk in a frame when he's missing you (although that's powerful stuff too), but for someone that might not get to meet you in person. For me, I have learned the stories of my loved ones who were gone before I could make memories with them through photos. I not only learned what they looked like but who they were as people. Those personalities contained in snapshots are who made me into the photographer I am today.
So who do you want to see your wedding photos?
Interested to learn how to ensure your wedding photos last for generations to come?
Check out this blog post to learn more.