As a wedding photographer we capture the first images of a story. However sometimes we capture the end of someone’s story as well.
Being a wedding photographer is a fulfilling and happy job. We get hired to capture the images of the union of two people in love and the celebration of that union. It is always joyful taking pictures of people having fun and enjoying themselves and seeing the newlyweds being happy and surrounded by people they love and whom love them.
Dawn and I always make it a point to take “table portraits” of every guest. We know from our own wedding that we don’t remember who all attended and only by looking at some of the photographs can we begin to recall who joined us on our special day. So we go around to every table and take pictures of each guest.
Dawn and I also make it a point to ask if there are any specific people that the bridal couple and/or family wants pictures taken of. Generally there are always family members that are out-of-town that they want to make sure they get “updated” pictures of. We understand that, as most of my family is on the East coast and we only see each other when one of the nieces or nephews get married.
At Gina and Carlos’s wedding we were asked to make sure we get images of their grandfather Pat, who was ill and in a wheelchair. It wasn’t difficult for Dawn or I to take his picture, as all the family members were constantly at his side engaging him with big smiles and laughs. The bridesmaids were especially willing to make a “fuss” over the grandfather, and I think he loved the attention they were giving him, if the smile on his face was any indication that is.
Soon after the wedding, while the couple were on their honeymoon, we received a call from one of the other sets of grandparents, telling us that the grandfather had passed away. We were instantly saddened, and went back to the images we took that night and looked at them again.
When Dawn and I take photographs of people, we don’t just point the camera and push the button; we form a relationship with them through our lens. I think any good photographer feels the same way; that to capture the real essence of a person, you have to get to know them. Unfortunately at weddings, we generally only have a short time, if any, to get to know the family members, and even less the guests. However, still we do develop an attachment to them as we are constantly engaged with them for an entire day. By “engaged” I mean that we are always looking at them to see what might happen, is a smile coming, are they about to laugh, is the punchline of their joke about to be told, are they about to see someone they haven’t seen in a long time. As photographers we anticipate peoples actions and reactions as well as expressions so that we can capture those moments and when you do that long enough you create a special attached to your subjects.
As sad as we were to hear of the passing of the Pat, we felt some solace knowing that we had been able to present the family with some happy and joyful moments captured in time of him from the wedding that the family will be able to look upon and remember him in the good times.
Photographers give the gift of lasting memories, and that is something that repays us in and of itself.