Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An Aside: Photographer or guest at my brother's wedding?

Something occurred to me while I was photographing Jessaca and Nathan's wedding earlier this month: is my own life passing me by while I photograph pivotal moments in others lives? It was just a passing thought, and I spoke briefly to my friend and second shooter Sean Donnelly about this feeling I had where I wondered if I would forever be documenting the joys and happy times that happened in my clients lives without truly experiencing them for myself.

I don't usually have a problem with stray thoughts like this because I generally DO feel as if I'm experiencing at least a portion of what my clients are feeling when I photograph them. Whether they are cuddling with their loved ones during engagement sessions, romping with their kids in family portraits or sharing that first dance during the wedding reception, I'm the kind of person who can empathize with their emotions so it makes it easier for me to capture true life experiences in my photography.

But my brother's upcoming wedding on Feb. 14 in my hometown in Texas has been troubling me.

Should I shoot the wedding as my gift to him and his bride or should I be a guest and just revel in the fact that my little brother has grown up and is getting married to the love of his life! I'm torn. I would never forgive myself if my brother hired a photographer who didn't do less than an excellent job on their photographs. I almost feel obligated and honored bound to do it myself for that reason alone!

But then, I think to myself, I want to experience some life too. I will be taking my camera along with me of course, shooting that wonderful time when my brother meets his nephew for the first time, and when all three siblings reunite. The three of us, my brother, baby sis and I, haven't all been together in several years since our mother passed away. We all needed to find new lives in the wake of our Mom's death. My sis is now a new mother herself. My brother is in college and due to be wed. And I am pursuing a dual career as a print and photojournalist. We are slowly finding our way, and when we see each other again, now with our hearts nearly almost healed of grief, it will be a moment that I can't yet express in words. I definitely want to take some shots of my brother with his fiancee, whom I've yet to meet. And I can't forget that this is supposed to be my vacation too...shooting a wedding is hardly taking time off!

My sister, her boyfriend and my nephew

What should I do?

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