When I started photographing, I was one of those gals that was intimidated by wedding photographers. I wanted to be an artist, a creative, bound only by my own imagination (or lack thereof). Weddings seemed to be a mystery to me. To my imagination, wedding photographers were a secret society of creative yet super organized photographers that had only strengths and seemingly no weaknesses. They could take amazing images without a care in the world, they could finesse the clients and wedding guests with a smile on their face for 12 hours at a time and they had skin so thick that everything from a missed shot to a bridezilla couldn't break them. In short, they were the photography gods, highest on the food-chain (in my humble and inexperienced opinion).
As time progressed and I was asked to photograph my first wedding, I happily jumped at the chance because I was thrilled to understand the BIG DAY, though definitely still intimidated (as you can imagine by my opinion of this career). I knew that it took a "certain kind of person" to control a wedding day, schedule the day out, photograph everything needed and to also have the right kind of personality to withstand the pressure and interact with guests for that many hours. I have to confess, my first wedding went better than I thought but... it wasn't fun for me. The couple was nice enough and I did what I needed to do but when I got home and looked at the images, I didn't see anything too amazing OR too creative. I felt mentally and emotionally drained and I definitely did not like that. I wanted to LOVE IT. I wanted to jump into the wedding photography pool and enjoy the refreshing feel of every second. I was disappointed in myself and my ability. I felt sad afterwards and thought more than one time... "Oh well, maybe its just not for me".
But.... NEVER IN THE HISTORY OF MY LIFE would I be satisfied with the statement "Oh well, maybe its just not for me" and believe me, this time was no different. The next time someone asked me to photograph their wedding, I jumped at the chance and got back on that horse. I realized something horrible though.... IT GOT WORSE!! I not only was unsatisfied with my images afterwards but I picked apart the entire day and saw only my flaws, not my successes. I ripped myself apart after several weddings after that. Weekend after weekend I would come home sad, feeling like the process got away from me. Whether it was the schedule or the creativity in the images, I felt so negative toward my abilities (which for someone like me, is unusual and unacceptable behavior).
After a literal two years of shooting weddings, I figured out something profound. I am GOOD ENOUGH to shoot weddings. The most important ingredient in being better is feeling better about my ability. I figured out that I need to "own it" - I need to own being a wedding photographer, a wedding scheduler, a creative on a wedding day, giving great customer service... every single facet of the wedding day. This profound realization has entirely changed the way that I think and behave on a wedding day. I plan with my brides, resting my schedule on my knowledge of weddings, of people and my experiences. I give myself grace when necessary and I give myself praise for a job well done. Being a small business owner and the only full-time employee of my company, I had to realize that I cannot be as hard on myself as I "want" or feel needed. I have the ability of discouraging myself and if I don't want to do that, I need to (for lack of a better descriptor) "check myself before I wreck myself". This single phrase has transformed my business, my ability and my success level.
At the end of the day, I am at the place where I truly love being a wedding photographer. I am proud and excited to share in one of the most special day in a couples life and a families' life. I realize that being a wedding photographer isn't EXACTLY what I thought it was (in my previously mentioned inexperienced opinion) however I still aspire to be a photography god ;). I can openly admit that there are cracks in my amour now and again, that my skin is still not the thickest in the world and that yes, sometimes I miss the mark on my own goals. Becoming a wedding photographer though has been on of the most educational, uplifting and fulfilling things I have ever attempted (and am only just starting to succeed at).
The secret to my success - give yourself a little grace when you slip and fall and make sure that you don't quit until you are ready to. If I would have given up when I wanted to, I would not be writing this blog post right now. Little did I know that I COULD get here... and just wait until you see where I'll be in the future.