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Why My Wedding Photos Mean So Much To Me

So. Here I am on the other side.

On 17 October, I married Jonathan and we had an incredible day. Despite having been a wedding photographer for the past goodness knows how many years now, there were still things that took me by surprise that I simply didn’t expect. I didn’t expect to feel waves of emotion at certain points, partly because it takes a lot to make me cry. I didn’t expect to stand during the ceremony, with my mouth feeling increasingly dry. I didn’t expect Jonathan to think the morning of our wedding was a good time to hang washing on a clothes horse (which I then threw into a cupboard because photos come before washing – always). I didn’t expect to feel so incredibly humbled by the attendance of all our guests. I didn’t expect to feel as I still do now… somewhat speechless and unable to find the words to describe what a wonderful day it was.

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When we left the venue at the end of the night, we both agreed that we wouldn’t change a single thing about the day. We had no regrets. It hadn’t been like the many imagined scenarios I’d had in my head over the last year since I got engaged. Those ideas felt somehow childish and primitive in comparison to the day we actually had. This was our day that was polished and perfect for us, with all the elements we couldn’t predict thrown in for good measure. If you could give a day a personality, if you could make it into a living form, it would be the perfect representation of us.

There was one thing though, I didn’t fully anticipate. I know it happens, but I didn’t know how it actually felt. How quickly the day passes in front of you.

Every wedding supplier will tell their couple to savour every moment, and you nod your head, and you really try to do that, but it’s actually harder than you realise. There were so many special moments that I think it was impossible to take all of those memories in and hold them. Within a few days, my memories had already started to blur into one another. Some were still clear and special. The moment when Jonathan, Miho (my stepdaughter) and I had our first look. The moment I saw my dad standing at the venue, waiting for me and looking so smart. My hands feeling clammy and warm and my finger feeling inexplicably thick as Jonathan pushed my wedding ring on it. All of those moments remain strong and clear in my mind, but others were fading quickly and blur into one another (and I wasn’t drinking either as I’m pregnant at the moment!). It was like waking from a dream, and all the memories, the colours, the vibrancy, start to disappear as real life settles back in.

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Three days after the wedding, my wedding photographers – The Gibsons – sent through a selection of highlights from the day. Beyond the wedding itself, that was perhaps one of the most incredible moments, to receive that email.

When I looked through the photographs, the strength of those memories instantly came back to me and I genuinely had no idea the power of the emotional impact seeing them would have on me.

That moment of getting those highlights and reliving those precious memories was one of the best moments for me outside the wedding itself. I love photography anyway but I genuinely didn’t know what it felt like to see it from this perspective. I didn’t know just how wonderful the impact would be or how intense it would feel.

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So many incredible moments. My dad sitting patiently during the ceremony in the pose he does when you know he’s secretly twitching to go out for a pipe. My stepdaughter giggling while she scoops up our girl cat, who tolerates her with her toes splayed. Jonathan’s face during our first look, and a candid moment where we are giggling and smiling. My aunt avoiding the camera, while my mum sits next to her, beaming away. My cousin and grandmother who hadn’t met before that weekend, sitting next to one another during dinner. Those photos already mean the world to me and their value will only increase in the years to come.

I’m a photographer myself so it was always going to be high on my priority list, but what I didn’t fully appreciate was the impact it would have afterwards.

So I thought I’d share my experience of my feelings, for both couples and photographers, and what I hope I can pass on to you about what photography really meant after the wedding.

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First, to the couples looking for a wedding photographer.

Maybe you’ve read every photographers ‘about’ page, that use the same stock words and phrases – ‘precious memories’, ‘treasure forever’, ‘capture in time’, and perhaps you feel a bit jaded having read them so many times, that it’s someone trying to cash in on something intangible like a memory, to panic you into investing and playing on your emotions and feelings purely for the purpose of squeezing money from you. I totally understand where that cynicism grows from. But please keep looking until you find the photographer whose work you love, when you look past the stock phrases, and you see something special, something magical.

Don’t skimp on the photography. Don’t settle. Book someone whose work makes your heart skip a beat when you see a photograph because that’s what you want. Blow the whole budget and then some if you have to. Beg, borrow and steal if you must. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’ll only look at the photos once. Don’t be fooled by people who try and make suggestions of quick and cheap ways to cut your photography budget with voucher website deals or friends or family members with ‘really good cameras’. It’s not a symbol of vanity to want beautiful photographs of you, of your family and friends, of your day. It’s fine if you don’t want a 6 foot high canvas of yourself for your lounge – please don’t think that’s the only reason you could have for booking a wonderful photographer. Don’t let people tell you it’s a waste of money or time, ignore them if they sneer dismissively about wedding photography.  The best weddings aren’t designed by committee. If you want beautiful photographs from your day, you have every right to that feeling and you should go out and find the best photographer you can. Don’t let others tell you that wedding photographers simply hear the word ‘wedding’, cash symbols pop in their eyes and they add hundreds or thousands to the quote. Ignore them if they pull that fart-in-a-lift expression when you try and explain that you want beautiful photography from your day. You are responsible for your own happiness, and if you choose to listen to the advice of someone else or allow them to persuade you to go against your own feelings, then that’s your regret to carry, not theirs.

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Having Chantal and Scott there as our photographers was simply one of the best decisions I made (beside the words “yes” and “I do”). Had I booked anyone less brilliant, had I simply ‘settled’, I know I wouldn’t have had this intense pleasure. They’d simply be ok. All those memories are mine forever. The photos I’ve seen so far have made it all real again, they’ve brought back those fading memories into brilliant vivid colour. Post-wedding, has been like waking up from a dream, but getting those sneak peeks of photos has genuinely felt like it happened, someone else was there, and those fleeting moments of my dream which are fading faster than I thought (seriously – it’s only a matter of days, not months or years!) have come back into my life, as if to say – it happened, it existed, and now it always will.

I felt also the photos weren’t just for me, so my feelings about being in front of the camera weren’t as relevant as what they will represent to my stepdaughter and my baby in the future. Without wanting to sound too morbid, but there are family members who won’t be around forever (although I’m pretty sure my gran will have a go anyway!) and I want our children (and any children they may have) to enjoy looking at these people long after they – and we – have gone. I want them to see where certain characteristics may have originated, and to see all these people who are important to us together and united in the happiest of circumstances. I want them to see personalities come to life and to be able to imagine being there. These photographs are our legacy to our family history.

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I’ve never heard anyone complain that their wedding photographer was too good. I’ve never found a single article where people say they were disappointed because the photographer fulfilled everything they ever wanted from their wedding day. I’ve only ever read news articles about disappointed people who gambled on their wedding photography – and lost.

Now for wedding photographers.

This is the experience I want to give people, this is the feeling I want to find a way of encapsulating and telling them. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you feel the same.

So next time someone tells you that you’re too expensive, next time you’ve been standing at a wedding show by your stall on your feet all day, with people telling you pointedly that they think wedding photography is a scam, that it’s a cynical ploy to make money and cash in on love, the next time you are berated and feel a bit jaded and fed up because of people’s skepticism and negative attitudes, instead of posting links on social media to blog posts defending photography costs due to kit, insurance and business overheads, please remember none of this matters to to the people who matter – your clients, your couples.  It’s about making them feel the way my photographers made me feel. You can’t put a price on that. Every penny of our budget that we invested on the entire wedding day was equalled (and then some) by the value of those highlight photographs.

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Work for that. Work for your couples to give them that experience and feeling my photographers gave to me because that’s why they have come to you. Forget trying to educate people who hold cynical views on your right to earn a living as a wedding photographer. The people who don’t get it probably never will, so focus entirely on those that do. Please don’t lose heart because someone doesn’t want to pay you what you deserve and walks away from you. Give those who deserve you, your heart and soul every time. Strengthen those memories, steal every moment you can and hold it for them. Surprise them, stun them, and do everything you can to take their breath away with your work, with your expertise, your ability. If you only have one wedding booked a year, make it the best wedding in the world because you were there. You don’t need tens of bookings to certify that you’re a good photographer. You just need to make sure that you put your heart and soul into your work.

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Credits, because frankly I reckon I have awesome taste in wedding suppliers:
My dress and Miho’s dress: Flossy and Dossy www.flossyanddossy.co.uk
Hair: Blush Hair Design www.blush-hairdesign.co.uk
Make up: Sophie Edwards MUA www.sophieedwardsmakeup.com
Flowers: I Heart Flowers www.iheartflowers.co.uk
My headband: Gioia Mia www.gioiamia.net
Celebrant: Gerrie Douglas-Scott www.humanistweddingscotland.com
Cakes: Three Sisters Bake www.threesistersbake.co.uk
Jonathan’s suit: Slaters www.slaters.co.uk
Venue: Glengoyne Distillery www.glengoyne.com

Wedding stationery designed by my stepdaughter Miho.

And of course, Chantal and Scott from The Gibsons were our awesome photographers.

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1 comment
  • Thanks Kristen for putting together such a beautiful post and congratulations of course!

    It’s so good to read the thoughts of a photographer from the other side of the camera experiencing her own wedding day.

    What I love is the photos that appear to mean the most to you, the ones of your family, the ones that show personality and will be a legacy in years to come aren’t necessarily the photos I see on most photographers websites (mine included), they’re not the “hero shots” but the ones showing your loved ones in their true light.

    Lots of food for thought here – for photographers and engaged couples.

    Congrats again! Your photos are fantastic and the day looked perfect!ReplyCancel

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