While scoping out other photographers where I live, I realized that most of the time, people think of photographers with the prepending adjective “wedding”. I am not a wedding photographer. While I get the fact that people do want to have photos of this once-in-a-lifetime event, that isn’t my thing. Not only do I feel that I am providing squishy-pops for babies but that also I’m not up to the task of perfectly capturing strangers in the best way possible given that I don’t have million-dollar equipment or unlimited time. Either way, I would be the victim of someone else’s expectations. Could I live with myself if I did not create the best wedding photo shoot ever? I would have to, of course, but having that guilt follow me around for the slightest failure is not healthy. So torn between Scylla and Chardybis, I choose neither.
Photography, to me, is self-expression. It is another language, like C+, like PERL, like PHP, like Latin. It is a gift of presenting to the world what I, uniquely, can give. There are literally tons of wedding photographers – people who are willing to subject themselves to others’ expectations for money. There are not as many people who want to communicate visually, using the camera as a paintbrush.
I’d rather chose the lonely road, the road of screaming out the stark truths of what I have found. Let others hawk their boring wares for people seeking mementos of special times. To do that would corrode my soul.
And this is not a new feeling. I’ve always viewed photographers at events as being something like a nuisance mixed with a voyeur. How can I enjoy what’s happening around me if there’s some busybody clicking away? Do I dare crack a joke? Do I dare gesticulate? Do I dare eat a peach? At these times, recording devices inhibit life.
Part of it is also my discomfort at taking pictures of people and all the mess that entails. Do I need to get them to sign a waver? Am I stealing their privacy? Do I look like a pervert?
The latter is no idle speculation. Do I want to have burly angry guys running after me because I took a picture of that cute little girl in their family? Uh, no. Worse, do I want to look like a pedophile? And taking pictures of adults is just as problematic. I avoid taking pictures of women to avoid issues with lust and to keep my marriage in good working order. I don’t want to get into taking pictures of men. That would be creepy. So, there are some boundaries here that I’m completely comfortable with. Nature and architecture are endless subjects and are much more forgiving and communicative than people.
So while wedding photographers are necessary, and while special times deserve to be remembered (as long as every burp or fart isn’t a special time), that’s not my thing and I’m not your guy.