I love a beautiful photograph. I get lost within it, my eyes wandering around the frame seeing every little detail, every part of the story that the image is telling. In an era where some people say that photography is now a commodity, where some photographers decry the proliferation of consumer and smartphone cameras, where video is becoming mainstream on all of our devices and where it sometimes feels like attention spans are diminishing I think a beautiful photograph is more important now than ever. A beautiful photo can make us feel.
A recent phone call from a client reminded me of this in an unexpected and emotional way, and I’d like to talk about it for a bit.
When you work with clients it goes without saying that clear communication is of the utmost importance. This is especially true when it comes to setting and managing expectations; you should know exactly what the client desires and you should clearly articulate what you can provide. Because I take this approach with all of my clients and students I was surprised to receive a call from a wedding client, a groom whose wedding I shot last year, in which I was asked to re-process their entire wedding.
Yes, the entire wedding.
(I’ll pause for a minute here until all of the wedding photographers reading this come off of the ledge at the thought of re-processing an entire wedding)
For context: I love black and white wedding photographs. I am very clear with my wedding clients that, unless colour plays a significant role in the image, most of the photographs they receive from me will be black and white. I recalled how happy this couple was with their images last year so I admit that I was puzzled by their request. When the groom finally told me his motivation I felt like I had been run over:
The groom’s fiancé had a significant medical emergency years earlier which had required brain surgery to correct. This surgery saved her life, but also left deficits in her long term memory. Now, only a year after her wedding, she was unable to remember key parts of the wedding and was understandably upset about it. The groom asked me if I could provide all of the wedding images in colour in the hope that it would help preserve her memories of the day.
I was speechless…
It is hard not to internalize a request like this. I have so many amazing memories from my wedding: the gorgeous golf course where we were married outdoors on a gazebo, my wife walking up the isle in her beautiful dress, how great our wedding party looked, the colours of the flowers, the food… I simply cannot fathom being unable to recall one of the most important days of my life.
I was happy to oblige, of course, and the photos took on an entirely different meaning to me while I prepared them for my client.
Just recently, I had a conversation with a friend whose relative was getting married. In total they were spending over $15,000 on their wedding. When my friend asked them about their photographer they said that they couldn’t afford one, so they were just going to have their friends take photos on their iPhones and email them to the bride and groom.
While I admit that I am biased on this subject I just can’t imagine spending that much money on temporary things like the facility, the food, the flowers, etc but not having a beautiful and permanent record of my wedding day. Our memories will eventually fade and being able to look back on these moments in our life is so important.Photography is important on so many levels of course and not just as a reminder of our weddings. We document history and reference historically significant images all the time. Beautiful photographs are works of art, hanging in some of the most prestiges galleries in the world. Photography helps us document our weddings, the birth of our children and so many other special moments in our lives. Strong commercial photography may help to sell a product or support fundraising efforts for a charity or NGO. Sometimes good photography does nothing more than bring simple joy and pleasure to our lives as artists. It is all good.
Whatever the reason, photography matters and we can never forget that. What we do as artists is so important and I got hit over the head with that fact as I re-processed this wedding… all done so a beautiful bride has an easier time remembering her special day.Until next time…