(I’m including this photo just cuz it’s pretty.)
I’m asked almost daily how we ended up with photography as our career. I always explain that Jacob was a professional photographer when we started dating and how he taught me to shoot once we got engaged. The other day I came across the images from the first shoot I ever did with Jacob: an engagement session for two of our best friends. It reminded me how much my photography has changed since that day.
After that engagement session, we sat down to look through the photos and Jacob helped me recognize the areas that I needed to grow, things I could change for our next shoot. For starters, I apparently needed to get my images in focus. (Who knew that was important??) Second, I needed to change the way I was tilting my camera to make the images more “artsy”. I remember being super annoyed by the changes he requested. Little did I know all the ways my photography would change over the next 8 years.
With each new engagement or wedding I made small changes, swallowing my pride and recognizing that there was always room to grow. But the first drastic change occurred after my wedding day. Once I had experienced our wedding, felt the emotions of a wedding day, and saw my own wedding photos for the first time, I would never approach a wedding as a “job” again. All of a sudden, I understood what it felt like to feel my mom place my veil in my hair, to grab tightly to my daddy’s arm right before we walked down the aisle, and to twirl around a dance floor under twinkle lights with my new husband. And I wanted to capture those same moments for our couples.
Our style was originally pretty “trendy”. We posed our couples in unique ways, cropped our images differently, and used lighting to get “epic” shots. The more I shot, the more inauthentic it felt to me. I would think, If I were hiring a photographer, would I want trendy, “epic” shots, or sweet, romantic ones? How do I want to look on my wedding day? Like a fashion model, or like a timeless bride? The fact that I was even asking these questions made me realize that my photography wasn’t going to be authentic until I started capturing images that I personally loved. Over that first year our style changed from trendy to timeless, from a high-contrast, bright-color look, to a soft, naturally-lit one. Our photos became less “epic-ly artsy” and more genuinely romantic. But again, this was just the beginning of the changes.
My photography changed again on the day that I got the call that my Oma had passed away. I would never again miss the opportunity to photograph a grandparent laughing or kissing their granddaughter, now all grown up and getting married.
The way I photograph weddings most significantly changed on the day I became a mom. I could finally understand why it’s not actually possible for a mother of the bride to keep her makeup on. The tears will come… it’s just a question of when. Because when a momma looks into the eyes of her daughter on her wedding day, she doesn’t see a 26-year-old woman. She sees the 7 pound, peach-fuzzed baby that she couldn’t stop kissing all night long even though she had been in labor for 37 hours. She sees the blond-haired toddler who couldn’t say her S’s or R’s and ruined $60 of makeup “decorating” her room. (“Thowy, Mommy.”) She remembers the 3am wake ups, the mountains of diapers, and the endless joy that her sweet daughter brought her. How could I possibly photograph a mother and daughter in the same way once I held my very own, 7-pound-peach-fuzzed-baby?
When we had our second daughter, it changed again. I have my own sisters—my best friends—but placing Sadie in Lilah’s arms just a few hours after she was born brought me a new understanding of sisters. The bond is so deep and my Sadie may very well stand next to her sister on her wedding day, as so many sisters do. Now that I have seen their sweet relationship from that very first moment, I will never photograph sisters in the same way.
It goes on and on. The changes continue, and the change isn’t always easy. I’ve had to walk through hard things and amazing things in order to change… I got married, I lost family members & friends, and I became a mom. The more I live life, the deeper my understanding is of which moments matter. And, with the changes life brings, the deeper my inspiration for this art becomes.