One thing I’ve learned being a photographer: people don’t feel worthy of being photographed. In today’s age of selfies, iPhone photos, and with constant access to a camera (that’s attached to your hand) our lives are being documented more today than they ever have in history. The truth is, the moment a big black camera goes up, people shy away. There’s this fear of being documented, of being captured in your raw, natural state. When I talk to my friends, most have the same experience: they have had grad photos, a few awkward family photos, and maybe wedding photos but that’s it. Why? Because they don’t think their lives are worthy of being documented in a special way. I see it happen all the time, my friends have babies and these children are photographed every couple of months – the parents believing this little babe needs to be captured and remembered, but what about us? Why not us?
For Drew and I, we get in front of a camera once a year. We don’t have a photographer follow us around all the time, we don’t schedule multiple themed shoots: one, just one. It’s embarrassing but I suck at taking iPhone photos of us, we aren’t the kind of people to ask a stranger to capture a moment for us, or a date night out. We rarely post photos from our everyday lives, why? Not because they aren’t picture perfect, because we are terrible at taking them. So why do we take the time to get dressed up and be documented? Because we are worthy. Our story needs to be told, even if it feels like it hasn’t changed since last year. I’ve heard all of the excuses: Once I lose ten pounds, maybe we will when I have kids, we are waiting for our fifth anniversary, perhaps when we buy a new home… we wait and wait and maybe those milestones never come. So what does that tell us? Are these years we are living unworthy? Are the moments we experience even on the most monotonous days not worth remembering? On the contrary. I want to look back and see that first apartment that we thought was a palace. I want to look at that hallway that sat undecorated for a year. I want to remember that cornfield in our backyard before it was plowed down and construction began. I want to remember our dogs before they were old and gray (and George Clooney-esque.)
It isn’t because we think we are the new Brad and Angelina, it’s that even though things feel the same from year to year, we recognize that we have changed, our marriage has changed, and things will look different. It’s that our marriage deserves to be celebrated four years in just as much as it did the day we said, “I do.” We believe that life, milestone, heartaches, and triumphs should be remembered because the stories themselves are worthy, even when we are not. I challenge you next time someone holds a camera in your face: don’t shy away, don’t pretend you shouldn’t be documented, don’t worry about those extra ten pounds, and smile. Just smile so hard the light shines through your eyes and tell yourself that the moment you are in will be something someone will cherish someday – even if you don’t. The way we share our children? The way we see our parents? The way we want our hands on every portrait of our grandparents? Someone is looking at you in the same way. You are worthy of being documented, your life is special, and photos of you will change the lives of those who love you.