Last night after I posted a photo from a wedding I’d shot a month or so ago, and I received a message, one of the most heartfelt ones I’ve received in a long time.
As a photographer myself I knew you had something special going for you when I first saw your photos. Every single one of them was transcendent – like you could envision the moment before it happened and were on guard and ready for when it happened. Now I see your wedding photos and I am continually in awe. I shot one wedding myself and swore never to do another, too much pressure and too much knowledge that I could never capture the love that was between the two people in front of me on film (I’m old, we used film them). I thought from that moment on that wedding photographers were a special breed. Seeing your work in my feed shows me constantly that of that breed you are the most special. Your work goes beyond ‘wedding photography’ it shows that same transcendence and beauty I saw years ago but it has continually grown and evolved in to become something truly special. Every image you post is its own moment, its own work of art and always something truly beautiful. Your work makes me want to get married.
Nice huh? But first, let’s go back in time a bit.
The reason I became a photographer was simple – I had too much money for my own good and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was at University and on a pretty healthy scholarship and had a part time job while I was living home with my parents. I had no idea what I was doing with my new Canon 350D, it had all these buttons and dials, and I had only the most cursory knowledge of photographic theory (“If you over-expose, it looks all white, if you under-expose, it’s kinda black”). It was going to be an adventure indeed.
I remember, one of the very first things I ever used my camera for was at a music festival called The Great Escape held in Sydney. I wanted to take some photos of Sigur Ros who were the headliners that evening so waited patiently in the “mosh pit” for them to come on stage. All my photos were terrible, out of focus and motion blurred. But I somehow ended up taking a photo which I loved – it was Stephanie Ashworth from Something For Kate and I considered it, for a long time, to be one of the most elegant images I’d taken (ignoring the numerous technical flaws).
This image was all that I needed, I’d caught the photographic bug. Having already failed as a musician, I wanted something to stay in the scene somehow and I really enjoyed the adventure of photographing bands so I found some music websites to effectively volunteer for. They organise your media accreditation, you turn up, take photos and send them off to the website for publication. This model is still running and it’s a great starting point for a lot of photographers (but the exploitation that happens afterwards is another issue entirely). But there was one website where I never felt exploited – The Dwarf. The main editor at the time was a young woman called Jade and slowly over time, via email, we became friends. Every gig I ever photographed for The Dwarf, she would shower me with praise, which at the time I felt was very undeserved. But it still felt nice getting positive feedback when you’re at such an embryonic stage of photographic development. It helped me push myself to that next gig; the long drive to Sydney from Wollongong, the waiting around, the photograph 3 songs and get out of our venue policy some places had. But seeing your work online and people telling they liked what you did, as egotistical as it is, was all the encouragement I needed. And my first opportunity as a wedding photographer came after I shot a band at a venue in Sydney – the bassist in the band contacted me a few weeks later and asked if I could photograph his wedding.
The message last night really inspired me today to think about the real positivity that can be instilled in a person because someone believed in them. We’re all fragile beings in the world and having someone out there trusting you (more than you trust yourself even), is a pretty powerful thing. I get that on a daily basis from Kristen so on the days when I doubt myself or find it hard to get out of bed, her encouragement is all I need.
And it’s all come full circle – the message above is from Jade. Even after 6 years, she’s still out there encouraging me and helping me push myself to the next level. We’ve never met in person but I’ve already promised to her that I when the day comes for her to get married, I will be there, holding my camera and trying to repay her for the belief she instilled in me so early on.
So tell me, who believes in you? Tell me your stories let’s take some time to reflect and think about how we can all do the same for others.
Keeping up with blogging is proving to be somewhat difficult due to the schedule I’m currently in the middle of so here are a selection of images from three engagement sessions that I did with Caitlin and Tom, Claire and Mitchell and Simon and Tania. I find portrait sessions challenge me a little more than weddings because there’s nothing to really distract you from the two people in the images (nice flowers, dresses, suits, guests, etc), but it’s a refreshing thing to take on every now and then. But like I’ve said before, when the “wedding stuff” isn’t there, you’re left with the pure essence of why these two people are together – their relationship and love for each other.
I think one of our roles as photographers is to be able to show the true nature of the world and its people. Some of us like to make silly faces when others capture us while there are others who simply refuse to participate and put their hands in front of their face. But neither of these images are a true reflection of what we look like as humans – they’re simply moments in time where we’re aware of ourselves being recorded. Since Simon and I share a love of physics, I will use a scientific analogy to illustrate (or perhaps confuse). In Quantum Mechanics, there’s a well known principle that the moment we try and measure the state of things, the system is forever disturbed and not in the state it was before we tried to measure it (look up Schrodinger’s Cat). So taking an image when someone is aware we’re taking an image is in my mind not as real. Sure, there can be some amazing images that result out of a little direction and staging, but at the end of the day, they’re not true reflections of who we are.
Fiona and Simon are shy – perhaps the quietest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a long time. And they’re very much happy to not be the focus of attention which obviously makes things challenging when you have a wedding with your family and friends present. But somehow, they opened up and I feel like I captured them. I defied the laws of physics and measured a system without altering it. Their personalities are visible, more so perhaps because I actually know and relate to them, but I definitely think you can tell who they are. And I also feel like you can see the love and respect they have for each other in each of these images. That, I guess, is the exact reason I was asked to be there.