Seven years ago, when my husband changed careers, we moved across country. Being pregnant for the third time in three years made for an added adjustment which lead me to the place where I desperately needed a hobby. That “hobby” quickly spiraled into something that became not only my career but a life-giving source. Photographing weddings in particular has become my passion, it fills me with energy and joy and hope.
Whether I’m photographing my own four children or a wedding I always try to keep a long term perspective. I am passionate and amazed at the power of a photograph. I love how a photo leaves its mark on history.
In a wedding, this translates to my excitement in capturing stories of the wedding day. If you’ve been married you know how much of a whirlwind the wedding day can be. I am a photographer to preserve those stories. It might be the groom who insisted upon bow ties (they are in style!) but didn’t check to see if anyone attending the wedding knew how to tie one (it took HOURS to try, use YouTube to learn, and finally find someone that could) or the bride who ended up at the church without a crochet hook just 45 minutes before the wedding with a hundred buttons to be hooked all the way down her back.
I will tell you the most meaningful and heartfelt weddings have been those weddings where the bride and groom fully understand and have experienced how powerful a photograph can be in its place in history.
Two of my favorite weddings: one that was moved up months earlier because a bride’s mother was on the brink of losing her battle with cancer – and another wedding where the bride lost a brother just months before she walked down the aisle. The people gathered for those celebrations got it. They, like me, saw how photographs played their part in history.
To me that’s what’s so powerful about a wedding. It’s the pressure of capturing a once in a lifetime event. It’s the power of preserving the memory of the tears in your eyes as you say your vows, of your father giving you away and dancing one last dance with you, of your sisters and brothers and mothers standing by your side. Capturing you with a grandparent that might not make the next family wedding or your new spouse overcome with joy. This week, I met with a bride who booked a wedding for next year, telling me how she will be married in the same church her grandmother and mother got married in – THAT is what I love. That is something to capture and celebrate – grandmother, mother and daughter together in that church saying “I do.”
For me the key in successfully photographing the true emotion and feelings expressed on the wedding day depends on one thing – my own personal connection to those people. I don’t want to book a wedding, not speak to them for the next year and then show up at their wedding to follow them around for the day as a stranger. I want to know my clients. I want to know the bride and groom as a couple, to capture them as friends, to celebrate this amazing day as someone who (along with friends and family) is cheering them on in the steps they are taking. People make your wedding. The joy and excitement that your family and friends share makes your wedding individual and unique. And THAT is truly worth capturing well.
So, it is true. I cry. I cry at most weddings. My favorite captures throughout the day are: the father seeing his daughter for the first time, the groom seeing his beloved… The look on the couples’ faces as they come down the aisle as Mr and Mrs, the speeches (oh. How I love the speeches), and the first dances.
Thanks to my sister for inviting me! I love being able to share the joy my work brings to my life. 🙂
Melanie Reyes is Bethanne’s beautiful and talented sister. She hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan. You can find out more about her work online…