I have a few stock phrases when I talk about my wedding photography. Like, I do few enough of them that I really like it when one comes along. That I know I'm not burned out so long as I still get teary during the ceremony. That I feel like a privileged witness able to burrow deeply into an intimate and emotional event. All this is true enough.
Here is a non-obvious answer. Getting paid for the gig raises the bar, creatively, professionally and interpersonally. I am in the middle of these really personal, intimate moments, with people I hardly know, because that's the contract we made. There's no other way in which I would be in that spot. And no other access to the possibility for stunning images.
Wedding photography, really, is better done by women. Yet I appear to have an ability to be a non-threatening male witness with a group of women as they “prep” the bride by, say, taping breasts and dress together so that nothing pops out. Those hours of rising tension before the ceremony are my favorite part of the wedding day. I can feel the buzz of emotions around me, and I love that I am embedded in that swirl.
It is eight hours in (and four to go), at the start of the reception, where I don't know anyone and I feel so completely like the geek with the camera, walking up to strangers to take their photos, that I remind myself, this is a job. This is why I'm getting paid. Buck up and keep at it.
On Flickr is the first look at the Valentine's Day wedding of Susannah and Bill.