I am not a photographer. I do not, nor have I ever, owned a camera. There happens to be a camera on my phone but I usually do not open it and if I do it is generally so that I can hand it to someone else for taking a picture.
My most in-depth and recent experience with photography was my daughter’s wedding last year. We were on a budget and she was considering having family members take her photo’s rather than hiring a professional. I was not in favor of that idea. After all what’s left once the day is done and the invoices are paid is the photos. As luck would have it my daughter found a reasonably priced professional photographer at one of the wedding shows. Washinton’s Best Photography offered a three hour photography deal for $750. For this we got the three hours and all the photos were sent to us on a flash drive. We still had to spend a lot of time editing and printing our pictures but we got to have a professional using professional equipment to produce the original shots. We used the professional for the wedding ceremony, posed pictures following the ceremony, the couples first dance, and the father daughter dance. For the rest we did hire a family member who was an armature photographer with a decent camera. What turned out to be great was the professional photographer let her use one of his lenses on her camera and she took some amazing candid shots before and after the ceremony while he was taking the more posed photos. I definitely see the value in two photographers at a big event like this. One just can’t be everywhere to capture it all.
Once the flash drives with over 2,000 pictures arrived, I spent weeks going through them. One thing that struck me from Jason Eskenazi’s video on Storytelling and Visual Literacy was his remark about it also being about what “not to include” in the photo, he put it as “removing the noise”. That is what I agonized over with the wedding photos. There was a beautiful shot of the ceremony site showing the water behind the alter and a mature tree flanking the guest seating, and under that tree was the photographers camera bag! When I reviewed the photos I tortured myself over these little imperfections. My husband thought I was being negative and not happy about the photos. But as it turns out it was the beginning of my creative process. My daughter set me up on Shutterfly, an online photobook making site (among other things) and I began to load the photos into an online album; from the album I chose items to include in a hard cover storybook which was printed and mailed to me. I cropped and edited the photo’s and arranged them so that they told the story of the wedding day. The hardcover and back of the book, and even the binding were from wedding photo’s. The pages allowed me to add text to help narrate the story. I am still making payments on the wedding loan, but when I feel annoyed by that, I just go look at the storybook of my daughter’s wedding day and I feel happy again.
It’s odd, but my favorite shots are those that do not include faces. I love the empty ceremony cite before the guest arrived, the building of stone and wood with tables setup on the patio, the back of the flower girl and ring bearer walking away holding hands, and my daughter running with her veil covering her face. She ran from the ceremony because of the threat of rain. The photo allows you to see details without focusing on her facial expression. In this photo you can see her dress, flowers, necklace and even the boots she had on under the dress. The background shows all the reasons she picked this wedding site; tree-lined pebble paths, manicured grass and a pond. The act of her running in her wedding dress is funny and reminiscent of something you might have seen in the movie, run away bride. The shot is not posed, she took off running holding her dress up with one hand and her flowers in the other when the wind blew her veil over her face. These faceless photo’s strike emotions for the viewers whether you know the individual in the photo or not, but are even more special for me since these are my babies.