Work is work, no matter how much you love your job; work is still work. Without a doubt being a wedding photographer is my dream job; however it has deadlines and targets, accounts, admin, advertising and marketing, long days and endless nights of sitting in front of a large screen, backing up and backing up, oh and backing up one more time just in case the 'back up' and the 'back up of the back up' lets you down. Hours spent transferring files to USB's, visits to the post office, late night emails and Facebook enquiries that require instant replies, because we live in an age now where everyone needs a reply, or it might be too late, someone else might reply first and all of a sudden your ideal client is in love with someone else work and the opportunity is lost.
It hurts too. The weight of a two stone bag (I guess the weight of a two year old child) it hurts your shoulder (both shoulders), your back, your stomach, it affects your posture, in fact every muscle in your body hurts for a couple of days after. 10-12 hours on your feet trying to get the perfect shot, capturing the most memorable parts of such an important day; leaving the house at 7am and getting home at midnight, with a few thousand images to be put in a safe place, whilst you process them and prepare them. Getting those 'one off' moments that cannot be recreated if missed. It's stressful, it makes your stomach churn because you want so badly to be good at what you do, not for fame or fortune, but great at what you do for your clients. It's only for them, it's ALL for them.
I make it sound like it's the worst job. It's not, it's the best job, for me it is the best job for my personality and the way I am or rather who I am.
I am terribly shy, but I like people. I like talking to lots of different people and finding out what makes them tick, what they do for a living, what their political views might be, who their family are and their family dynamics, who they adore; I love seeing people who are properly smitten with each other and who dream about growing old together, who believe in love. I love all of it.
I always thought that success was measured by how much money you had in the bank, by how many qualifications you have achieved, by how many people you manage or who work for you, and the number of bookings you have in one year and maybe even which camera you are using and which lenses (ie which ones you can afford). Up until now I guess I have felt very up and down about work sometimes, I have always loved this job and every single one of my clients, they are all amazing in their own ways. But I have never felt like I could say I am successful at what I do, not that I haven't felt appreciated or acknowledged, I was frequently comparing myself to other people who I think are successful, and I never believed I could be a success in photography because I measured myself against others.
We are not the same though, we probably don't even have the same targets or aspirations.
My clients, whether they have had big budget lavish weddings or small intimate family only weddings on very modest budgets, the one thing all of them have had in abundance has been love and gratitude.
Love, for each other (obviously) and the people they are sharing their wedding day with. But they have shown me so much gratitude, just by being more like friends than clients, greeting me and saying goodbye with a hug and thanking me for being amazing before they have even seen what I have captured. Trusting me to see their day in a way that they want to it to be remembered, basically being their eyes and their eyes in the back of their heads. They have ALL been lovely.
Four things this weekend gave me a massive kick up my bum, because I have felt like since March I haven't really stopped, I feel like I am not getting everything done, I have been focusing on shooting weddings, delivering the images on time and not much else has been achieved.
I am 36 years old and when I spoke to my mum the other day I told her I was feeling anxious about two weddings this weekend, I had met both couples and got on really well with them, but I was worrying about tricky logistics and the most horrible, wet and crappy weather that we have been experiencing this week, just basically worrying because I felt I might not be my at my best if these factors played against us on the day.
My mum stopped me in my tracks, telling me 'you must be positive, you have a natural gift from your Dad' and this made me think about one thing by which I would measure success. Are Mum and Chris proud of me? yes they are. Would my Dad be proud of me? undoubtedly I am certain he would and he would be proud of my brothers and sister for all that they are achieving and doing in life. Is my husband proud of me? I shouldn't even need to ask the question, he tells me all the time unprompted. My little boy is only just understanding that mummy goes to work to photograph people who are getting married, he doesn't quite know what that means just yet, but he knows I take pictures. He loves camera's hopefully he will be interested in photography at some sort of level, maybe for fun, maybe for work, who knows.
The two weddings I was most nervous about, were both incredible, enjoyable, emotional. My two couples this weekend; Ellen and Ben on friday at Packington Moor in Lichfield and then Jon and Mel on Saturday at Upper House in Hayfield, Derbyshire. A message to you all. Thank you, it is beyond my capability to even find the words to express how much I loved this weekend and working with you all and I have so many more weddings in 2016 that I am excited about and looking forward to. I am tired, I think I have had 10 hours sleep this weekend and I have been surviving on caffeine and croissants. But I am so happy and excited and a couple of things you said to me just blew me away and made me realise that this is all good, right now. I am so glad you found my website, I am really glad I got the chance to work with you and more than anything I am so grateful to have witnessed such happiness, extraordinary and amazing love that you have for each other.
Above: Mel and Jon being bombarded by confetti as they left the church yesterday, thank you for being so amazing and having me capture your beautiful day! xx
Above: Ellen and Ben laughing at the fact I managed to get a very wet bottom sitting in a cornfield! You both were lovely to work with and gorgeous, again, thank you for being amazing xx
The fourth thing, which was such a lovely surprise, was a very moving message from a couple whose wedding I photographed two years ago - 'just want to say thank you for all your hard work in making our pictures so special. You caught every little moment, which looking back made us both smile and cry, but above all remember how special the day was, thank you' I am so grateful for that message, that two years afterwards they still felt compelled to let me know that they still love their images. Lauren and Tom were married at The Ashes in 2014 and I am delighted to be featured on the supplier directory as an Ashes Exclusive Country house Wedding Venue Photographer, looking forward to being back there soon!
I am emotional today. It's Father's Day after all. I wish I could just have two hours with my Dad, I guess we would probably talk about camera's, but mainly I would tell him how much I love him and wish he was still here. I am pretty sure that he would say success is immaterial, immeasurable, but feeling content with you job and personal life is what counts and he would be right xx