Having recently just shot my first solo wedding, I found myself feeling a bit emotional and reflective on the drive home that night. In the lead up to the day I had more than a few moments where I thought, ‘what on earth am I doing?!’ But the thought didn’t enter my head for one second on the day itself. What happened instead, is something amazing but first you need some context to understand how amazing it is.
As a child, I was self assured, confident, even quite outgoing! With lots of friends, I wasn’t afraid to try anything. I was always dancing at parties, or in some cases, the only one!) and I’m pretty sure I spent half my time singing into my little cassette player that had a microphone attached.
Things changed as I went through my school years as I started to get bullied quite a lot and I became quiet and withdrawn. Friendships came and went and I spent most of my time at high school trying not to be noticed by anyone, but of course that made it worse. I did start to come out of my shell at college which I really enjoyed but university was a step back into my shell. I left university feeling deflated and broken by the experience (it was as cliquey as high school at times) but I plodded on, trying to make a career for myself as a freelance graphic designer. I gave it a really good go but my heart simply wasn’t in it. I started exploring as many areas of graphic design that vaguely interested me as possible, trying to find something to spark my passion but nothing worked and I floundered.
It all changed when my husband (then fiancé) and I, got a new puppy in April 2015.
I had not picked up my camera since college because coursework and actual work had been so time consuming, but I remember thinking to myself that if I didn’t take photos of my new pup then I’d miss the opportunity to document her growth. I dug the camera out and started shooting and it was like a lightbulb switched on. I remembered my love of photography all the way back to when I got my first camera at the age of 11 or 12 and I couldn’t get enough of it. I took so many photos of my dogs that they would stop and pose as soon as they saw me point the lens in their direction. Really!
As I did this, I realised that this is what I should be doing with my life. What I needed to do with my life. I wanted to share my love and passion for photography with my clients and give them beautiful images to remember their love and passion. I wanted to bring joy to people through photography in the same way that I get joy through taking the photos. Suddenly my life had direction but after years of being hidden in my shell, I was struggling to have the confidence to move forward.
In the end, I got myself booked on a course for wedding and portrait photography and came home with a sense of direction and portfolio images to start with. I got myself a few bookings for weddings and spent weeks going over the timeline of a wedding day in my head, figuring out what I would do or say at any given moment.
All of that went out of the window when I turned up to shoot my first wedding. What happened instead is nothing short of amazing.
Out of nowhere, I stepped into a self assured, confident and outgoing version of myself and hit it right out of the park. The whole day went amazingly well and I got some fantastic images that I’m currently editing and can’t wait to share with the newlyweds when they are back from their familymoon.
Some of you may think that I reverted back to the confident character I had as a child but I beg to differ. I watched a program this week called ‘Forces of Nature with Brian Cox (Somewhere in Spacetime)’ which I urge you to check out if you haven’t seen it already. As Brian Cox explained in the show, our lives play out on earth in both time and space but once it has passed, we can’t return to it. We can return to a space (or place) where something happened in our past such as a place we lived, but we can’t travel through time to be back in that moment. He explains that somewhere out there, that night where I was dancing on my own at a dinner and dance as a child, or the moment that I picked up my camera to take photos of my new puppy, is happening right now. Beautiful thought, isn’t it?
So at my first solo wedding, I didn’t revert back to the confident, self assured child. What I did was bring those qualities forward, instead of leaving them playing themselves out in the past and combined them with the best qualities of me right now. I was able to be confident in my abilities to take the photos and direct the groups when I needed to. I was able to be outgoing, laughing and joking and putting everyone so at ease with me, that we all felt like great friends. I was also able to be quiet on the sidelines and get some fantastic natural and heartfelt moments and I could bring my calm and collected demeanour to the take to help everything keep moving along nicely without anyone feeling rushed or harassed, while still getting all the images I needed.
We all look back and wish we could return to a moment and live it again but it is like looking through glass, always unable to reach it. What I managed to achieve that day, was subconsciously recalling the best parts of my personality in the past and manifesting them in the present, in a totally new way to blend with the person I am now. It is not erasing the past hurt but more a way of saying, ‘you know what, yes it happened, but now… now I’m okay’.