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.