"To photograph is to hold one's breath
when all faculties converge
to capture fleeting reality."
|| Henri Cartier Bresson ||
As 2013 closed I thought to myself, with three solo shot weddings under my belt and a handful of 2014 weddings booked in front of me, "It'll be fun to grow in this area! That way I can know if wedding photography is what I want to do mainly in the years to come."
It's funny how God answers our pondering thoughts even when we don't really present them as prayers. As I sit here, my 2014 behind me, I still cannot truly believe I had 18 incredible couples who entrusted me with the responsibility and honor of photographing the day they became husband and wife. Though I never really asked God to show me clearly if weddings was the direction my business should go, He went ahead and showed me anyways...."In 2014, you're gonna be a wedding photographer."
With such little experience, a heart bursting and ready to learn, I set out to do my very best at what actually seems like an impossible task. Anyone can take pictures...anyone can bring a camera to a wedding....it takes the grace of God to adequately create a memorable and beautiful depiction of couples, each intricately unique and special, sharing the day many will call the best of their lives.
The feeling I get on a wedding day is an intoxicating mix of overwhelming joy, excitement, and utter terror....I love it! I'm not one that can normally handle stress -- openly admitting I'm an emotional, sensitive, and tender creature -- but on a wedding day? I'm Allix 2.0...I ride the waves of adrenaline and answered prayer and somehow, I adore ever hectic minute of it.
For instance? I mentioned in one of the previous countdown posts about how nerve wracking it is to handle a bride's dress and the couple's rings. It is such a delicate process that takes intense concentration and precision....which naturally means I look pretty ridiculous shooting such things.
"Of course this is the only way to get the best angle, why do you ask?"
"Alright you two...you have an important part to play later today so I would very much appreciate you balancing politely and obediently how I positioned you....and not falling perilously into the grass where I can't find you. Thanks so much for your cooperation."
Another thing that is critical to how I shoot is, quite obviously, my incredible form and stance while shooting. I mean...look at this!
Purely impressive. Extra glory points for being barefoot half the time when I'm shooting. ;) Future couples, bear in mind, me going shoeless at least once on your day is really more a certainty than a possibility.
I can't be all serious and business however...much of my job consists of being pleasant, friendly, and comedic.
Producing genuine laughter is key!
For this particular group of groomsmen, it was required of me (by their request) to direct them in a British accent for them to comply. A "Look this way!" in Cockney here and a "Now turn slightly to the left!" in her Majesty's English there had them preforming brilliantly.
And that brings me to my shooting style....I am a lifestyle photographer so does that mean I never pose my clients? The answer is, it really just depends on who I’m photographing. While some people feel more comfortable with me guiding them to create images I know they'll love, others fall naturally into pleasing facial expressions and poses. But my goal always is for my clients to look at ease, happy, and comfortable -- even if I have directed them.
Seriously! Who needs shoes?
Though its a strange sensation, some of the most intimate pictures I take, I'm actually very up close and personal. It takes a great deal of trust and respect from my clients, treating me equally as a professional and a friend, to let me enter into such moments and it not be an invasion or a discomfort. Whether its walking around during their ceremony or being just a few feet away from their first look, I am so grateful that those that I work with leave me to what I do and keep living in the moment as if I wasn't there.
"Enjoying this sweet moment together?"
"Great...don't mind me, y'all just stay cozy....I'm going to join you."
Another thing I've gotten lots of positive feedback about is...well, my positive feedback! I'm very vocal while I'm shooting...even when I sound absurd. ;) Often I'm gasping in delight or exclaiming how gorgeous they are or groaning because sometimes all the beautiful is just too much for me to handle. I loved when all my babbling and incoherent noises of glee lead my clients to tell me, "You made us feel so confident! We always knew when we were doing the right thing! Did we really look as good as you let on?" I can't help it. I get excited about what I do. Seeing people in love is too much of a high and rush of emotion to keep it to myself.
An ideal situation is when I truly become their friend and not just their vendor. And I feel like all of my clients this year really embraced me and treated me that way. Some were actually dear friends of mine before they contacted me about shooting their wedding (or portrait session or family session) and others I met the day of! Yet I feel like I walked away from each and every job I did this year feeling close (or closer!) to all of the people I worked with...their wedding parties and families included!
Another interesting thing about a wedding day is, sometimes you have an incredible location to work with and other times....creativity has to go into hyperdrive. I learned to look for the best light and make it work. Most often there was no time to go off location and find someplace magical or easy to shoot at. Learning how to masterfully avoid toilets, trashcans, and all kinds of eye sores in my images made me a much stronger photographer along the way.
See this bathroom?
It's where I took this glorious picture. I repeat...my motto was,
"Look for good light and go forward from there."
All the joys and fun moments were expected going into it but what I grew more acquainted with this year is the grind of shooting weddings full time. The shooting was just a percentage (sometimes small!) of all that went into it. Renting lenses, spending endless hours in front of my computer (I haven't had a break from wedditing since July....), simultaneously staying fed and hydrated during hours and hours of being on my feet, and then going home looking more or less like an urchin...it all became second nature to me. :)
2014 introduced me to two new teamwork dynamics....videographers and a second shooter. Though it wasn't much -- I only worked with an official videographer a handful of times and a hired second shooter once -- it was a great learning experience! Shoutout to Kevin Renkes, Adrian Pereyra, and John Moore (all outstanding videographers) and my precious friend Susanna Simpson of Southern Pines Photography! It was a pleasure working beside all of you! :) Thank you so much!
Speaking of teamwork, I think it's about time I introduced you to my right hand man...and woman. :)
First off: My mama. My momager, my assistant, my bag carrier, errand runner, ice water obtainer, necklace straightener, hair checker, cake cutter, boutonniere pinner, after wedding ice-cream buddy, an open and ready listener to my rambling ideas or fears in between shots, main behind the scenes shooter (more than 3/4 of these pictures are by her)....Basically, she is a million jobs in one person and an invaluable help on a wedding day. With her along I feel like I have a secret weapon that my couples are not even aware is coming with their package when hiring me. ;) I haven't had one bride and groom who have not, after meeting and experiencing their wedding day with my mom, gone on and on about how awesome she is and how much she really helped. They all adore her!! She is so much more than a tag-along even though that's really what it began as! She just loves to watch me work! :) Honestly though, I don't know what I would've done without her by my side helping me, encouraging me, cheering me on, and co-coordinating to aide things run smoothly at all the weddings she attended with me. Of course, being married, I experienced the answer to "What would I do without her?!" a few times. ;)
For those times....there was Trevor. :) I will be frank with you in saying -- he's just not my mom. ;) But! He succeeded with flying colors when I needed his help. From actually doing a little bit of second shooting at a couple of weddings, being my shoulder to rest on during long receptions, my dance partner occasionally, keeping me fed and watered almost as good as Mama, sneaking in a quick foot rub when I slipped out for a bathroom break, just his companionship on all the flights and traveling...I certainly couldn't have done all this without him either. Not to mention enduring my endless editing, tied up weekends, and all the other interesting territory that comes with the job. I love love love him so and am beyond thankful to have spent the last half of such an adventurous year as his wife.
So in closing; from the getting-ready, to the portraits, from the ceremony to the reception, to the final goodbyes....2014 taught me "The Wedding Day" inside and out. All different and yet all the same..."Tale as old as time. Ever just the same, ever a surprise." Each day as unique as the people who starred in them...and I a puzzle piece in the grand scheme. What a blessing!
So here they are...my 2014 Brides and Grooms. I am not exaggerating when I say I love them all, when I say they and their wedding days changed me, when I say that I eagerly look forward to watching their married love flourish and deepen...I share a mysterious and immutable bond with all of them, not just as their wedding photographer, but as a fellow bride of 2014. No other year will I be able to say "We were married in the same year." It gave us all a closeness that cannot be explained. It gave me a new dynamic of understanding them, their joys, their bittersweet emotions, the gravity of all that they were living out.
Dear Colin + Tori, Brady + Abra, Derick + Emily, John + Kellen, Aaron + Hannah, Cody + Sarah, Tairi + Bianca, Daniel + Mary, Tom + Amanda, Phillip + Jasmine, Nate + Kat, Allen + Chelsey, Kyle + Madlen, Gonnie + Michelle, Samuel + Rebekah, Andrew + Charissa, Nathan + Rachel, Derek + Reagan -- you are now and forever my friends. I love you all and thank you from the deepest bottom-est part of my heart....truly without your appreciation, interest, and trust I could not have had the year that I had. Every text you have sent, picture you have shared, loving caption you have written....it does not go unlooked or untreasured. I reread them often and praise God again for all of you. He was was far too kind when He placed y'all in my life. I am pretty sure I was blessed with the most grateful group of men and women and it is something I tear up and smile about daily. I've heard many or all of you call yourselves "Allix Ruby fans" but honestly, I am the biggest fan of you guys. :)
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers" - Ephesians 1:16
And a final thank you to you! Whoever you are, reading this blog. You're so nice to take time out of your day to scroll through all this. If you've been keeping up with the 2014 Year in Review / Countdown to 2015, you're too cool. ;) I didn't do it as faithfully as I could have but 7 out of 10 posts and getting the last one done only two days late is pretty good for me. :) If you missed any of them, feel free to see them here
One - Ring Shots || Two - The White Dress || Three - The Flowers || Four - Favorite Portraits || Five - Favorite B&Ws || Six - Favorite Kisses
and know that in the coming months, I'm really excited about endeavoring to blog many of the weddings that I haven't yet. There are so many beautiful stories to share and pictures to see so I hope you will stay tuned!