As I write this post, I have tears in my eyes. While not wholly unusual for me (I tend to be very emotional, especially while pregnant), the reason for the tears this time is a little more poignant. I’m sitting at my computer, printing out pictures from my wedding last December to send my grandmother in Costa Rica. My grandmother is not doing very well and my family doesn’t expect that she has a long time left. She wasn’t able to make it to my wedding due to her condition and I haven’t made it down to Costa Rica yet to visit with her and share a few pictures from the day. The tears in my eyes are for the sad reality that I might not get down there to share these with her myself and I need to send them now, while there is hopefully a little time left for her to enjoy them.
While I like the pictures of the cake and the flowers and the super creative angles and shots of my husband and I looking lovingly at each other, as I sit here printing, I realize again a lesson that has become only more important to me since my wedding passed: the pictures that I want to share with my elderly grandmother are the pictures that us “modern photographers” frequently downplay — the family photos. I love my wedding photography — it is stunningly beautiful and my brilliant photographers did just as I asked them to — but I do regret not getting more up-close pictures of my husband and I looking at the camera. I wish I had a few more shots (I do have some) with mom and sister that weren’t candids, where those faces that I love so much are totally visible. They may not be the most creative shots, but they ARE meaningful. They’re meaningful because the people in the pictures are meaningful — not just because of the emotion that they are capable of capturing.
So often, my clients come to me and tell me how they love candid photography and roll their eyes when they explain they’ll get a “few family shots because mom and dad want them”. Oh, mom and dad — they’re old, they don’t know anything…or maybe they know something that we don’t. Maybe they weren’t raised in the age of Pinterest and Style Me Pretty and Facebook, where our generation has learned the value of awesome sun flare in a landscape-type shot while the couple walks hand-in-hand toward the sunset (no disrespect — there are pictures like that in my portfolio and I love them!!!). Maybe our parents didn’t have these awesomely creative pictures we have. Maybe they don’t even appreciate them as much as we do. But maybe they’re also right in not throwing the baby out with the proverbial bath-water. They see a place in modern photography for family photos at a wedding and that’s why they still ask us for them.
They’re so patient with us as we learn these lessons in life, aren’t they?
As I grow as a photographer, my goal is to always improve what I offer my clients. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Yes, the photos are the only thing you get to keep from your wedding day. And, yes, the “story” of your day is important. But the day may come when you wish that you had a picture of your grandmother or mother smiling proudly beside you while you smile at the camera — a picture that you can point out to your children some day and say — “Look at grandma on my wedding day. Didn’t she look beautiful?”. After all, traditional portraits can tell a story too — they tell the story of the people beside us that big day that meant the most, enough so that we took the time to take a special picture with them.