As wedding photographers, most us are pretty well practised in the art of explaining to clients why wedding photography is so important. We let them know how quickly the day will pass them by and how in years to come their photographs be the only lasting reminder of the day. We explain how stories are told and moments captured that they wouldn’t necessarily of been aware of at the time. As a client, it’s easy to understand the value and the importance of wedding photography. If you posed the question “Is wedding photography important ” to many couples planning their wedding they’d tell you “of course.”
Yet, as photographers ourselves many of us struggle with the idea that what we do is important. Although we know that there’s so much more to it, on good days we’ll pinch ourselves in disbelief that we’re paid to do something we love. On those days we’ll feel like we’re being paid to run around and click a button. On bad days we’ll wonder what on earth we’re doing with our lives. When we’re bogged down with editing, admin and accounts perhaps we’ll crave a change- a new challenge or a more traditional routine.
We understand that weddings are (for many) a once in a lifetime occurrence. Similarly we understand the pressure on us to get it right and deliver a collection of beautiful images. So on the surface at least, we know that we’re doing something important. We know how cherished and valued these images will become. But time and again I see photographers downplaying what we do. It may not be life or death at the point we provide our service or deliver our product for example, but our service is a significant and important one none the less.
Saving lives is not the only way to be a valuable asset to society. We all have our part to play no matter how minor or insignificant our role may feel. After all, what good is a life if it is not enjoyed? That’s where art and comedy and music and photographs come in.
Wedding photography is important. Not just for here and now and not just for the couple who got married. It’s not just about the photographs but what they represent and how they make people feel.
Modern wedding photography captures and documents all of the things that make a life whole. All of the things that make us human and all of the things that make life worth living. A great photograph has personality. It will capture emotion. Joy and laughter and pride. Happiness. Sometimes sadness. Modern wedding photography documents thousands of unique moments that once pieced together tell a story. The story of the very first day in a marriage. Something that will span decades, a lifetime in fact. Something that will still be celebrated by generations to come.
Along the way there will be many more stories. Plenty of happy ones, plenty that will be recited with glee. Others will by trying or sad or forgettable. Indeed many will be forgotten. But the wedding day is special because it is the first. The very first story of that marriage. Where it all began.
Modern wedding photography will never truly be appreciated until this generation reaches it’s twilight years. We wont necessarily understand the value and significance of all that we have within our photographs until we no longer have it. Photographs of our friends and parents laughing and celebrating may be fantastic now, but when those people no longer stand by our side, then we will realise that the photographs we have are so much more than just photos.
As photographers we are taking beautiful images that can be appreciated for their aesthetics now. That’s the bit that people get caught up on. That true value of what we do comes into play much later.
What we are also doing is handing over tokens for future happiness. For future smiles. Tokens to help jog memories. Tokens that will start conversations and prompt questions. Right now we’re documenting a day and telling the story, but that’s only the beginning. Throughout the years those images will be looked at and celebrated in many forms. As the saying goes:
“You think photographs aren’t important? Wait until they’re all you have left”