I dont even know where to begin with this post but I thought about it a few days ago and its hasnt left me since so I figured I should act upon it.
Rachel has been a client and now friend of mine for the past 4 years or so. I have photographed her engagement, bridal session and wedding day several years ago and just a few weeks ago her newborn baby. Her dad unexpectedly passed away a few weeks ago and I just cannot quit thinking about it.
I met Rachel and her sweet family at her wedding consultation. It is pretty rare that a bride comes to the consultation with her parents but I love it when they do! Parents are normally the ones paying for photography so its normal that they might have questions/cares/concerns as well. I got to meet all of them and see how close their family is and I loved every minute.
For Rachel’s bridal session she wanted to do them at her childhood home. To be completely honest I didnt want to do them there. I never know what that will look like or how the light is and if it will be awesome or terrible but I agreed. We decided to do half the session at her childhood home and half the session down the street in some trees at sunset. When I showed up to her house her parents were waiting and her dad, Stan, carried around this huge comforter for Rachel to stand on and not get her dress dirty. He grabbed her bouquet for her, told her how beautiful she was, had tears in his eyes, and doted on his daughter at every turn. He wanted a few photos of Rachel on the balcony of their home and I took a random picture of him carrying the sheet and comforter for her to stand on and not get her dress dirty. It is not the best technical picture with the light hitting his face and him tangled in the blanket but I just knew it was a good memory to have. This picture has to mean everything to her now. (I also want to mention that her dad was a busy cardiologist. He MADE the time to be there for Rachel and his family)
I always try and remember to take a picture at bridal sessions with the people who came and helped fluff the dress or carry the bouquet. NO ONE wants to take this photo ever. They all normally say they didnt know THEY would be photographed and they have to stand next to the gorgeous bride- but I make them and quickly say its for posterity reasons that they can remember this day. I know that soon they will have photos from the wedding day when they are all dressed up but I love capturing this last photo of the night of the bridal session. On this night, I told them that their family reminded me of my own. My husband and I have one son and one daughter and I could just see us in the future just like them.
There are so many images of her wedding day that included her dad. He kissed her cheek during family photos, her giggling at him right before the ceremony, them walking down the aisle and Rachels fingers clutching his arm tightly, his face during the ceremony, walking out with his sweet wife after, their daddy daughter dance, and my favorite him waving Rachel goodbye as she left in the getaway car. There are lots more photos that include her dad but these were the ones that I saw first and loved. I think as wedding photographers we sometimes can forget that our jobs are not in any way about US. It is about documenting all of these moments, and more, for families to enjoy for a lifetime. It is their legacy. It is an honor. We cannot take it lightly.
I walked thru a bit of a hard place with my work this summer as I had to miss two important moments of my own families lives to document a few weddings that have been booked for over a year. I put a big smile on my face and served my brides gladly as best as I possibly could while my heart was breaking for missing my own big moments. My brides had no idea about what I was missing because I would not want them to. This work I do is SO important and I TRULY LOVE IT. I love it so much. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling to photograph than a wedding day. So while walking thru a tough few weeks myself and then finding out about sweet Rachels dads passing it has put things into perspective. I had the privilege to document several HUGE moments in Rachel and her families life. I got to see the servants heart that her dad has had for his daughter and I captured it many many times on their wedding day. Although Rachel has a million memories with this sweet man, she also has these photos to look thru to see her daddy’s face at each and every big moment of hers. I say it all the time but the last few weeks I have had to say it to myself, I am so honored to witness, document, and be a part of families most treasured memories even if it means missing a few of my own every now and then.
I feel like wedding photography has been changing and I actually hate it. When I sign into Instagram (which is rare) and see color curated feeds, trendy editing styles, styled shoots, and the same photos of details over and over I just hate where this industry looks like it is headed. I am in this for the people. The families. The legacy. The friendships. The watching and documenting their families grow. The moments that I get to witness and capture. The end.
Sweet Rachel, I have been SO sad for your family this week. I am praying so much for you guys as I can only imagine how hard it is to walk thru something like this. Your daddy loved you so much and it was a joy to witness his love at every stage throughout your wedding festivities. Thank you for allowing me into your families lives for the past few years… it is an honor to continue documenting your sweet families memories. I just love you!