I just got off the skypeyphone with a prospective wedding client who threw me quite the curve ball. Little did they know I’ve been doing some hardcore ponderance about exactly this question for the past few weeks.
“So we’ve been looking around at various photographers, and we like your photos *but* everyone is offering the documentary thing and everyone is around about the same price… so… what makes you different?”
Sweet baby Jesus.
The terrified, self-doubting artist in me wanted to pool into a flood of heaving sobs and explain that NOTHING makes me different, actually the only thing that makes me different is I SUCK way more than everyone else.
Deep breath. Pull it together Anna.
It’s not really in my kiwi kid nature to get all “I’m fucking awesome because…”, but the more I think about it, the more the question makes me realise that *doyouknowwhat* I am different. I can’t help but be different. No two humans are alike. And that’s what this business is all about. Photography is about people. People connecting with people. I’m a people, you’re a people. We’re all different people.
Now I have to get a bit personal here team, I have to tell you some real stuff about me. (It seems only fair, since I want you to show me the real you too). The thing about me is: I am lucky. Born lucky. Born into a family with two parents who love each other and love me. A Mum who often pushes my buttons with the enthusiasm with which she loves, and a Dad who’s always made me feel like I was his favourite. Although I’ve suffered no lack of love, I’m sort of addicted to it. I got married myself years ago (it didn’t last), I can still remember the sense of complete safety and unconditional love that radiated off my Dad as he walked me down the aisle, tears in both of our eyes, neither of us breathing, smiles achingly wide. My brother was singing. My sister was up the front with my best friend. All of my friends were hiding behind hankies, looking at each other wide wet eyed thinking “this is so beautiful”.
What is it about weddings! It’s like all that love we keep for only one partner, or only let out in birthday cards with “love from…”, or only whisper timidly when someone is unwell, just floods out at weddings. The whole air hums with it. It’s infectious.
It will be at your wedding too. Everyone you love, is there. Everyone who loves you, is there. This is the day your Mum and Dad talked about before you were even born. Probably they thought about this moment long before they even met each other. Have anticipated and dreamed of for a lifetime. ‘One day I want to walk my daughter down the aisle, to the waiting arms of the man who loves her.’
It’s a bloody intense thing, this getting married business.
It’s this love. This all over the place, pouring out of hearts and eyes, unstoppable, palpable, everywhere love. The not just between the two of you getting married, but between everyone in the room, in a thousand different directions, love.
Love, capital L. That’s what I’m documenting.
The moment you come down the aisle on your Daddy’s arm, both shaky with nerves, him about to give away his baby girl.
That moment of uncertainty when you look for your bridesmaid’s reassurance, and the expression of adoration returned by the girl who’s been your best friend since forever ago.
The way your friends and family all reach for the hands of their lovers while you recite your vows.
The moment your groom sees you in your dress and suddenly thinks “holy crap, my wife is a babe!”, raises an eyebrow at his Best Man as they hit a mental high five.
The mothers in the front row, eyes shining, hearts bursting with pride.
The way you look at each other, when its just to two of you, and you realise you’ve done it, you’re married. Finally.
Your Gran’s bubbling laughter, through her tears, as your reception speeches recall that tidbit about Poppa who passed away last year.
That sneaky glance you throw at your sister when the Father of the Bride starts his speech with “I’ll keep this short” and you know that means you could be here a while.
The long, clutching hug you give your friend who’s come all the way from London for your wedding.
It’s this. It’s these. And so many more. These moments. Connections. Love, pride, admiration, happiness. Family. Love capital L.
These stolen moments.
They move me too.
When I capture one of these moments, in a truly beautiful, poetic way, when the light is gorgeous and the expression is pure; and its frozen, caught, perfectly stolen and sealed in time to be looked upon ten thousand times in the next hundred years. It’s like. It’s like… It’s proof.
That you were loved.
That’s what’s different about me.
Anyone can prove that you got married.
I can prove that you were Loved.
To illustrate my point, here are just a handful of moments where love bubbled over while gorgeous Annah was getting ready for her wedding ceremony.
Not to spoil the mood, but if you’re not one for fluffy stuff, I’m also pretty funny, and I’ll keep you calm even if you’re a stress-bunny, I can hold your hand through the planning stages by referring my friends and making sure your timeline is right, and then after your wedding you’re going to get your 10 thousand tonnes of beautiful real moments turned around really quick (like sometimes less than a week later). I’m good at this wedding thing, honestly.