A while ago, I put forward the idea of photographing weddings in exchange for non-money payment. I figured it would be a good way to meet interesting people around the world and also an outlet to experience the culture of wherever the couple were. Anya was so frustrated with the all-business-no-niceness model that she had encountered from a lot of photographers she had already looked at and was excited about the prospect of exchanging something with me to photograph her and Srijan’s very small and intimate NYC ceremony in Central Park. I had spoken to them via Skype a few weeks earlier and I knew that this was exactly the kind of thing that I imagined myself doing. Besides the fact that the wedding was a mere 8 hours after we landed in the USA from a 30 hour journey from Melbourne, it sounded perfect.
So many people out there are probably have strong opinions about this business model – effectively, we’re back to a bartering system. But in this case, the kindness and generosity shown to Kristen and I more than made up for the fact there was no money exchanged. In fact, after we finished photographing for the afternoon, Anya and her mum and dad invited us to their celebratory dinner as not photographers, but their guests. Alas, Kristen and I were severely jetlagged and both suffering from viruses so we accidentally slept past our alarm and missed the whole event, but random acts of generousity like that restore one’s faith in the world a little more. Both families will be having ceremonies in their home countries (Anya is Sri Lankan and Srijan Nepalese) and I was asked to photograph either or both of these weddings as a result of meeting and working with Anya and Srijan in NYC which was deeply humbling. Unfortunately, their dates clash pretty badly with my bookings in May so I guess I’ll have to wait a little longer to experience another amazing cultural extravaganza!
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been speaking to Anya’s mum via email and she has asked us to come and stay at their beach house in Sri Lanka when we’re visting over the new year. Again, this is not something we ever expected or even felt we deserved. They’re simply opportunities that happened because by chance someone saw my post and I valued something other than money for my time and services. I guess the point of what I want to say without hopefully sounding too sanctimonious is that opportunities open up to you when you put yourself out there in the world. These things are random and they’re not things that you can ever predict or expect. You simply have to do it and just see how it goes.