It starts with why. Why do you do this? What drives you? What inspires you?
Well, actually, it doesn’t always start with why. Why comes later. It starts with that first picture. The first one that comes out of your camera to make you feel something.
That something might be the excitement of making your first half decent picture. The feeling of freezing a moment in time. A moment 125th of a second long, and you captured some of its essence. That’s where it started for me. With the realisation that I could create something using a camera. After years of misery inducing art lessons at school, where I was written off as artistically lacking, discovering that I enjoyed taking pictures in my late 20s was surprising. Finding a hobby that I loved enough to pursue obsessively and with fervour was a new experience entirely.
There was no examination of why at that stage though. My why was a need to explore photography itself. As time has moved on, I’ve gone from being a first time camera owner to a full time documentary wedding photographer (and photography conference and photography festival organiser!) and my why, the driving force behind me doing this, has grown, developed and changed with me.
Here are some of my ‘whys’.
The images I’m creating for you become a part of your family history. In 50 years no one will remember that I was the photographer who took them, but the pictures will still exist. Future generations of your family will look at them to learn something about the people who came before them. They’ll laugh at your haircuts and the fashions of the day. Some people in the pictures will no longer be around. The pictures I create for you are a snapshot of a time in your family history, taken on one of the few occasions you’ll have all of your favourite people around you. And on that note please print your pictures!
Having a job you are emotionally invested in is a privilege. I say job. It’s more than just a job. My business is my baby and I show up at every single wedding, ready to do my absolute best and rooting for you. I’ve shot weddings with chest infections, colds and having heard news of a close family bereavement that morning. I take my responsibility to you exceptionally seriously and I want to do the best job I can do for you. I get emotional at every single wedding.
There is no greater feeling than pressing the shutter and knowing I’ve captured a shot that excites me. Feeling impatient to get home and edit it. Wanting to see the final outcome. That feeling is intensified when I know that a picture or a collection of pictures will mean something to you, the person who trusted me to capture your wedding day. When I get an email to say you love your pictures and that you cried while watching your slideshow. When you thank me for capturing your memories. THAT is a brilliant, brilliant feeling.
Photography makes me brave. I am a little shy (I’m an outgoing introvert. It’s a curse when everyone thinks you’re bubbly but you’re actually a bit socially anxious!) but my camera gives me a legitimate reason to step outside of my comfort zone and the push to take that step. To get closer and to explore, both relationships and environments. To find a different angle and way of seeing the world.
The photography community is amazing. Running your own business, especially one where you work almost constantly over the summer because your work is seasonal, is demanding and exhausting. It can sometimes be hard to keep your energy levels up but knowing there’s a supportive community around you who you can turn to for advice and support, who have the same struggles you do, and who are equally passionate about their photography businesses is a massive help. I have photographer friends that I’ve met along my journey dotted around the globe and they inspire me every day.
Weddings have everything from a photography perspective. You get to be a documentary photographer, a still life photographer, a portrait photographer and a fine art photographer. You can shoot with natural light or add your own lighting. You can be your own art director and you have complete creative control. Lots of people ask me if I shoot anything other than weddings and my answer is always that I love weddings and I can’t think of much else I’d enjoy shooting as much.
And then, finally, there’s love. I love the idea of love. Not in an unrealistic, overly romanticised way but I love that people are prepared to vow to love each other. To try to navigate the world together. To support each other through good times and bad. To be each other’s best friends. To try, what ever happens, to do their best for each other. It’s an honour to be invited to witness that.
It doesn’t always start with why, but why is what keeps driving you and pushing you to be a better photographer, artist and business person.