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The ONE Thing No One Knows About Wedding Photography

April 18, 2016

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Oh, the life of a wedding photographer. I was reminded of so many things this weekend as I packed and prepped for my first wedding of the season with my girl Erin. There are a million things people would never know about wedding photography, like how we don’t drink champagne and dance ’til midnight every weekend or how the editing takes five times as long as the actual wedding day!  I think we, as photographers, have done a pretty good job of glamorizing things, of making it seem like it’s one big party after the other, but here’s what you don’t know about wedding photography.

First, as photographers, we live in fear: fear that our gear won’t fire, that it will be stolen, that our car windows will be busted in and our camera bag gone. We live in fear that our memory cards won’t work, that our back up drives will fail, or the million other ways your precious photos will disappear. We literally strap your memory cards to our bodies in case we are mugged on the way out of your reception and refuse to stop for gas and leave our cameras in our cars. (Seriously, these are all things I do every week.) Every time I swap memory cards, I number them, account for them, and say a secret prayer over them that all will be well. I have nightmares that I wake up from where my shutter won’t fire – legit, cold sweats. 

Second, as photographers, we live in a state of in between. The limbo that is a wedding day is indescribable. I generally drive home from weddings with no music in silence, because I am trying to assemble and gather my thoughts. You see, as photographers, we are forced to be fully present. We want to catch every hand grab, the way your dad looks at your mom, how your grandmas grab one another’s hands in celebration, that first (and second and third) kiss but we also have to always be thinking and anticipating what’s coming next. It’s like this delicate dance (and you all know my favorite move is the sprinkler) as we shoot what’s happening in the moment but prepare for what’s about to unfold. We’ve seen it all, so we know those special moments to capture, the truth is, that limbo is both exhilarating and exhausting! 

Lastly, we have these things we call “Sunday Hangovers.” No, we weren’t spiking our kiddie cocktails at your receptions, we just know that we will literally feel like death on Sundays and we will know without a doubt that it’s totally worth it. From running around on our feet all day to the “crouching tiger, hidden dragon” poses we do to stay out of the view of guests,, the carrying of gear on our backs and the blisters on our feet,  every single moment leads to these glorious Sunday hangovers that leave us in bed or limping around like we are 80 (but with a smile on our face!)

The biggest thing no one knows about weddings, is that most of the time we don’t want to leave. We spend this precious day with your closest friends and families, inserting ourselves into these moments that we know you will cherish forever. We aren’t just a fly on the wall, we are invested, animated, emotional pieces of your wedding day puzzle. We hold grandma’s hand as she meets you for a photo, we play with your little nephew as he dances around, we see your mom blink back the tears as she zips your dress, and we are there when your dad refuses to let you go.

As we live and breathe and move through your day, we are pretending as if it is our own and documenting it in such a way that it will be impossible for you to forget it. The thing about being a wedding photographer is that at the end of the night when I hug you and say goodbye, I am secretly praying that this won’t be the last time our paths cross, because I have lived this entire day through your eyes and I never want to forget it or forget you.

 

 

 

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  1. Paul Coleman

    April 18th, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    This is so accurate. The small prayer over memory cards. I was recently contracted to travel through Eastern Europe for 3 weeks documenting a charities work. 3 weeks of work backed up on memory cards and USB sticks strapped to my body in a money belt. One night I couldn’t find my belt. I thought it had been stolen. I eventually found it but I was so panicked. I said more than a little prayer when it surfaced.

  2. Leanne Hunley

    April 18th, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    This couldn’t be more true! Well said.

  3. Katey Mac

    April 18th, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    So dead on Jenna! I love it.

  4. Bessie Black

    April 18th, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    What an amazing, true depiction of our daily stuggles and feelings as a wedidng photographer, thanks for putting this to such wonderful words!

  5. Jenna Doughtry

    April 18th, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Yes!! So glad I’m not the only one! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  6. Stephen Booth

    April 18th, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Yes! Sometimes I wonder if we’re the only ones who feel this way. Glad to hear we’re not alone. So true, Jenna

  7. Michele with one L

    April 18th, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Okay, this is seriously the best blog post I have ever read. This is exactly what it’s like for me on a wedding day, and on Sunday!, and you captured it beautifully with these words!! 🙂

  8. Ashley Camp

    April 18th, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    This is perfect!!!

  9. Kristi Helm

    April 18th, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Jenna, this whole thing is perfect. Especially that state of in between that I think all great photographers should be doing. Anticipating, living in the moment, but also being aware of what’s next and keeping things on track. Thank you for documenting my passion and exhaustion for this job! xo

  10. Laura Beth Robinson

    April 18th, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Jenna, this is amazing… The tears are rolling right now and I wasn’t able to breathe as I read. Because every. single. word. is so spot on. It’s been SO hard to describe to my family and friends why I do what I do… why I give up my weekends to go to someone else’s party. Oh my word, this is everything. <3

  11. Anna Kardos

    April 18th, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Girl, you nailed it right on the head.

  12. Jordan Craig

    April 19th, 2016 at 1:13 am

    You nailed it Jenna

  13. Cassandra Eldridge

    April 19th, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Boom. Perfectly written. xo

  14. Lori Riley Pope

    April 20th, 2016 at 12:29 am

    You are truely a wonderful young Lady. Thank you so much for being a part of the Riley family.

  15. Heather Barr

    April 22nd, 2016 at 2:30 am

    Oh my goodness! So well said! I connect with every single word! <3

  16. Celebrations Studios

    May 27th, 2016 at 12:34 am

    What an amazing heart felt article that rings so very very true. As photographers or “creatives” we invest so much of our hearts and souls into our clients days. Beautiful article.

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