She sits down… Three photographers in front of her… and she can really only choose one. ONE! She’s been following all four for over a year and now… she’s engaged. All three would be wonderful, but she has to choose… She’s been following John and Tammy since she saw the imaged they posted of a vineyard wedding in Scotland… Julia since her work in Georgia… and her good friend Jessica since she started two years earlier. All three would be wonderful! In exasperation she goes over the choices again, comparing prices, packages, reliability, trust, and a seemingly endless list of further criteria. How to choose?!?!?!
The thing is… when she chooses, whoever she chooses really, she could have picked any of the three! They all would have done amazing work! But, when she chooses, that will be it. I think as photographers we forget that what we do isn’t a necessity. We aren’t the fire department, who has a pretty solid monopoly on extinguishing overcooked mac & cheese. At the end of the day, if we are chosen to photograph ANY moment, we are privileged to be allowed to do so. That is the essence of being a thankful photographer, realizing that they don’t have to choose us.
Practically, how does this change things? Well… once you realize that the person could have chosen anyone… it could really take your mind in two directions: pride or humility/thankfulness.
1. Pride – Yes, she chose you. Out of the three, you ended up being the person of choice! The one to carry her photography banner throughout the wedding day! And this is where so many photographers get it wrong!!! All of a sudden, a brides really difficult choice becomes so simple. “Of course she chose me! I’m… ME!” But my friend, I hope I’m not being too blunt when I say that… it’s not about you! They could have chosen anyone. Sure. And they chose you. Yup… but who wants to work with someone that’s full of themselves? An attitude like these breeds a photographer who’s often snobby, selfish, and sometimes just downright unpleasant to be around. I certainly wouldn’t refer them in they were my photographer! So, here’s the alternative.
2. Humility – Thank goodness, but this is something I’ve never really struggled with. I love my work. Don’t get me wrong there! I think I do a great job, and where I’m weak, I’m still actively growing. But… I really don’t believe I am the bees knees when it comes to photography, and until I reach my goal of being one of the top 100 wedding photographers in America, I don’t think I’ll ever struggle too heavily with fighting down pride. Humility is this INCREDIBLE word that honestly gives me shivers when I think about it. To me, humility is realizing that weddings aren’t about me at all. I was chosen to capture one of the BIGGEST moments in someone’s life, and that right there is an incredible responsibility. Photography is not at ALL about the photographer. It’s about the photographs themselves, and the memories they represent for the generations to come. It’s about the space we create for couples to be together and forget that a world is going on outside their hour session. It’s about the babies who will only look 0 years old one time. It’s about being he best we can be so that they can remember the best they can. And what kind of photographer does this create? The best kind actually! It turns us into people who LOVE our clients, because we realize that they didn’t NEED US. Without people to photograph, us wedding photographers really have no memories to capture… Just a bunch of flowers and rings with no hands to hold them.
This holiday season, choose humility and thankfulness. You have a gift my friend, and God gave it to you to be used. So use it in a way that honors him.