Sometimes couples ask me about my favourite shoot. Can you show us your favourite slideshow, they say unsuspectingly. I always tell people I like photojournalism. I always have. My dad was a journalist and I remember growing up, hiding under desks in the newsroom, reporters running around smoking and drinking coffee from brown plastic cups. On my mother’s side we have the artists. My mother paints and so did her mother before her. At my grandmother’s house you’d find oils and canvases all around the place.
So naturally I never wrote.
I never drew.
It took me years to address my need to tell stories and express myself creatively. Ten years as a copywriter in advertising helped me, but even though I won a lot of fancy awards, I soon realized that wasn’t the stories I wanted to tell.
The stories I had to tell.
I’ve always loved photography but I didn’t get into to it until 2002. I learned the basics of the darkroom, shooting black and white film. Soon thereafter I moved into digital and I haven’t looked back since. A couple of years later I started writing for myself, through blogs and columns in various magazines. I started to realize I could tell the stories I had in me, but I also understood I knew how to capture the stories around me, the small things that happen every day. After years of making things up for ads, it was liberating capturing real life.
And that is partly why I love shooting weddings so much. It’s got its rules and in some ways it’s a very orchestrated event, you know what’s going to happen, you know when people are going to do what. And yet you know nothing. Every wedding is completely different, every couple adds something new to the mix. I love being there to capture their day and I hate being in the way. You won’t find me running around telling people what to do, hauling flashes and umbrellas from room to room, setting up shots I’m good at. I try and walk in with a sense of naivety. I try and capture the events as they happen.
I know the story is there, all the beauty and drama, all the characters and the details. I’ve started to trust the day. It will be beautiful, people will be relaxed with me around, I don’t have to tell them what to do, where to look. I watch the story unveil and try to capture every bit of it. Today I work as a photographer capturing these things the way I see them.
I’ve realized I’m good at telling stories – long and short – mine and others – and there’s nothing I love more. I don’t need to do much, the stories are already there. You won’t see me creating moments, telling the groomsmen to “fight” with the groom or hear me tell dad to hug his daughter before walking her down the aisle. He probably will anyway and if he does, I will capture that moment, because that is the moment that matters.
Over the last 8 years I’ve been incredibly lucky, I’ve shot weddings all over the world for people from all walks of life. The stories I’ve seen have brought me to tears, they’ve made me laugh out loud and they’ve made me believe that love truly is all we need.
I’ve learned to listen to the stories presented to me.
I’m not there to tell mine.
I’m there to tell yours.