This is a personal blog post written on my work website.
This is not an attempt to market my “Fall Mini Sessions!” or even an effort to drum up print sales.
This is not me prattling on about the importance of professional photography although I do feel that way. Obviously.
This is just me talking about how the last 9 months have shaped and changed photography for me.
Want a brief summary of this post?
Take photos, any sort of photos, with the people you dig.
2017 has been a year of loss for my loved ones.
Gut-wrenching, horrific loss.
It began with my beloved and hilarious grandmother, Jean, passing away in January of this year.
This was followed by the practically unspeakable, unexpected death of my 23 year old brother, Thomas, in April.
Eight days ago, we lost our brilliant friend Caroline.
I’m writing this in the first 5 minutes I’ve been home to Austin after her memorial.
Take photos with the people you love.
Bad photos, out of focus selfies, photos that your arms look fat in, whatever. Take them.
I would let someone slowly rip out all of my toenails for a collection of blurry selfies with my brother.
I don’t think even one exists.
Proof. Proof that we were together. That we existed in the same place together.
This is a photo of my dad and all of my paternal siblings. A blended family, our ages and looks are all over the place.
This photo is terrible on many levels.
It’s blurry, we’re all smiling for different cameras. My blue eyed sisters have demon eyes.
This photo is printed and framed in every single room in my dad’s house. This was even before my brother died.
I haven’t checked but I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s a copy in the glove compartment.
I can almost guarantee this is my dad’s favorite photo of all time.
Group photos are important.
The photo below is my favorite photo of all time. I have 6 copies of it printed and it’s backed up everywhere.
My husband and I started dating (he’s the one in red and I’m the drunk girl with a beer in front of her face to his left) around this time.
This was a trip my friends and I took to visit my now husband in Hawaii where he was working on his Phd.
The girl to my husband’s right, Marina, had to literally swim to safety during Hurricane Harvey last month.
The girl in purple is my friend Caroline that passed last week.
Group photos are important.
Grief is weird.
If you haven’t experienced it yet, I don’t recommend it.
I expected the forgetfulness, the spaciness.
I think I did expect the paralyzing regret, the inability to change history.
I expected the complete lack of motivation.
I guess I could have guessed how this sort of sadness and despair would play out amongst family members.
I didn’t expect that it would affect how I thought about my job as a wedding photographer.
How much more valuable those clumsy, sweaty group photos of my clients with their favorite people seem to me now.
I try to imagine my clients in the future. Getting that shitty phone call with bad news.
How they might cry and scream and then begin the search. The search for the photos of them with the deceased.
Trust me, I’ve spent 9 months looking for photos of myself with the deceased.
If you’re a professional wedding photographer and don’t already do this…take the group photos.
Get rid of any ego and just do it.
Hover around anxiously, wait for that “hey, let’s all get a photo together”!
And remember that it’s okay for people to actually fucking look at the camera. It’s totally okay.
I know….you love the epic background with tiny people portraits, the incredible first dance photos shot thru candles.
The beautiful bride’s eyelashes as he kisses her on the check, the backlit exit shot…..
These images are important too, very important even, but after this year I’ve become a huge fan of “boring group shots”.
Even in social situations, I’ve become that annoying girl wanting to get a photo with you or take one of you.
We live in world where a pocket sized device can take a bitchin’ photo of the people we love, be shared immediately with other people we love, backed up safely forever and still make a good quality print.
This is amazing. Absolutely freaking amazing.
Believe you me, you’ll want that stupid photo so bad one day.
Grief and photography