Writing the Story ~ Wisconsin Wedding Photographer
I have a picture that sits on a shelf in my library. It's sepia toned, which....ugh, don't even get me started on sepia tone....but it shows its "age", I suppose.
It's from my wedding (sepia tone was still acceptable in 2006, apparently). It's half out of focus....because, well...I didn't choose my wedding photographers very well.
But, it's framed. And it sits, looming large, over the rest of the pictures on that shelf. It's of me and my grandparents. I'm smiling ear to ear. Grandpa is a tad fuzzy....Grandma is beaming.
I love that picture more than any other shot that day. More than the posey images by the garden. More than any shot of any detail. More than any staged image created that day.
That image shows love. It tells my story. Those two people, prior to creating a family of my own, were my world. I loved them most. I loved them the best.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in creating "cool" images....perhaps "award winning" set-ups or perfectly lit, editorial concoctions with amazing skies and dramatic posing.
Those may get you noticed. They make people say "that is incredible work"....and I really do enjoy crafting images of those type, at times. I love when a plan comes together.
But, lately, I've had the feeling that I needed to really work at stripping down my wedding coverage to its raw, emotional base. To rediscover the narrative. The story the two people are crafting as the day progresses.
When I meet with a couple, I want to know their vision. Their likes and dislikes. What do they see for their day?
But I'm finding now more than anything, I want to know their story. Who are their "people"? What connections do they have that are wildly important to them? What do they find funny or what makes them cry?
There are things you just cannot fake on a wedding day, no matter how hard you try. Cameras are amazing things...they can capture tension. They can capture relief. They can capture overwhelming, unashamed joy or crippling sorrow.
That's what makes my job so beyond incredible.
I have to admit....a year ago I didn't know if I wanted to continue in the field. Part of me was probably a bit burnt out. I also have this thing that most creatives have where I feel that I wasn't "good enough".....I would look at absolutely breathtaking work my peers were putting out....or see peers that were booking like mad-men (or ladies) and just feel maybe I was barking up the wrong employment tree.
We had just sold our record store....a dream I had chased on behalf of my husband. But it wasn't mine. Honestly? Part of me thought maybe dreams were foolish and I needed to just get something 9-5 that was "practical".
I went into a directorship for an assisted living facility because that's what I went to college to do and I felt that if I didn't at least TRY it, I'd always wonder. Maybe it was what my dream was. Maybe it was what I was meant to do.
I knew immediately it wasn't. That wasn't my story. I was playing a part, but I was woefully miscast.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. I wrote day and night: stories, journals, I wrote anything and everything. I wrote like breathing depended on it. I relished writing assignments...I dreamed of one day writing the great American novel.
That dream, like so many others, went by the wayside...in favor of practicality and other endeavors.
But, I'm quickly realizing that it's entirely possible I have become a writer of stories....my medium has just shifted a bit. It's not pen to paper....its camera to eye.
When I reach out to the masses in hopes that they'll consider Type A for their wedding coverage, I want them to know that I'm all about customer service...that I'll work my fingers and feet to the bone for them....that I'll create some awesome images with my trusty "light on a stick" and softbox.
But, 8 years in....I want them to know I also want to strip it down to what its about: the story. I'm still that little 7 year old girl with pen in hand, wanting to be a writer.
The importance of what we do as wedding photographers is not to be wrapped up in gimmick. Gimmicks are fleeting. Your story is forever....no matter where the plot line leads down the road...it's forever.
One lesson I've learned BIG TIME this year....(and I can't believe it took me 8 years to learn) is that I'm not for everyone....but I am the perfect shooter for someone....for quite a few someones. The stories I've been privileged to document and tell this year....the players are all people who connected with Type A in some way.
I don't want to be the shooter people go to simply because of price.
Or because of gimmick.
Or because of frustration with overwhelming amount of choice (dude, I feel ya.)
I want people to seek out the storytelling...and decide "that is how I want my narrative told".
And someday....I want a place on the mantle...on that library shelf...for a picture that perfectly wraps up the story of your beginning as a "WE"....or a picture that says everything about how you feel about someone.
That's all I can hope for...and that alone keeps me shooting and, yes, dreaming.