Fourteen years ago, I sat in my soon-to-be in-law’s kitchen with my fiancé and her mother and the man who would go on to take the pictures at our wedding. He was the second photographer we’d hired, as the previous photographer, who had taken our engagement pictures, didn’t pan out (that’s for another, more awkward story). I remember instantly liking him. He had a very smooth, kind demeanor. He must have made a good impression, because I can still see his face.
I thought about him today while I was sitting in a booth at Denny’s across from a couple in love as we discussed the plans for their wedding in a few months. Here they were having coffee with the man who will go on to take the pictures at their wedding, and it was reassuring to know that my demeanor put them at ease. In fact, to walk in to what was essentially an audition and walk away with the part was a huge confidence booster for this young photographer looking to expand his business.
It’s daunting trying to plan a wedding, and meeting with all the people who are going to help make that wedding as memorable as possible can be stressful. I remember being there; meeting with photographers and florists and DJs (another awkward story where there were two) and just hoping that they understand what you want because your mind is so cluttered with thoughts that you can’t articulate it properly.
I spent the afternoon looking at my wedding albums, a sea of well-dressed family, friends and acquaintances filling a banquet room in downtown Fort Worth, and I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic. We were so young. Sometimes life moves at such a rapid pace that before you know it you have three kids, have moved over a thousand miles from the home you knew, and you’re growing a business you hadn’t ever imagined would take hold of you (in a good way), and you forget about what it felt like to be young and in love.
I often joke with my wife that I don’t remember life before kids. It’s not that I don’t remember the things we did, fractals of memories of vacations in Alaska and spontaneous trips to the movies (on a weekday, gasp!) and discovering Vietnamese food in a sketchy neighborhood, but the point is that as a parent (now for over a decade) I often don’t think back further than the birth of my kids. Our children become our reference points, the events surrounding their day to day development (physical, emotional, etc.) being the way we gage time. There isn’t anything wrong with that. In fact, being a father is one of the things I’m most proud of, and talking about my kids never gets old (to me…I’m sure if gets old to others), but meeting with the soon-to-be bride and groom today brought me back to a place before the kids, before the pressure, before the responsibility; to a place where my today, tomorrow and the next day weren’t planned out already.
But planning, that’s what I do these days, and so pulling out of the Denny’s parking lot I was already planning how I would shoot their wedding, and I have a few months before the pressure will truly be on. In that planning, my mind was taken from that time of youthful ignorance to the present and back to my children because as I was remembering my wedding photographer I also remembered a slender blonde frame standing behind him in my mother-in-law’s kitchen and that same frame trailing behind him during the wedding and I remembered suddenly that he was accompanied by his daughter, who was not much older than my wife and I were on that day (the ripe old age of eighteen) and it brought a smile to my face because my assistant is also my daughter.
If you’ve looked through my portfolios, you’ve seen her. She models for me quite often (the curse of having a photographer for a father) but if you’ve hired me then you’ve met her in person because she accompanies me on my shoots. The best assistant I could ask for, it’s such a wonderful experience to be able to build this business beside her, hopefully building a career for her as well. While she currently assists in seemingly menial ways (carrying equipment, cheering up grumpy kids, providing snacks and water for clients) I can see a passion for the profession growing in her and I look forward to helping her hone her craft as a young photographer.
She’s a storyteller, like her father, and I can’t wait to see the stories she helps others tell.
After the Wedding
Nostalgia is a funny thing. We often use it as an excuse to look backwards and pine for yesteryear, and there is something to be missed about the years when things were possibly easier or less predictable, but I know that one day nostalgia for my youth will be replaced by nostalgia for my right now; a time when I had everything I needed right here under one roof. I was a lot thinner fourteen years ago, and I had a full head of hair (although it was cut awfully short on my wedding day and is kind of awful) and, for nostalgia’s sake, I had everything in front of me. The world was my oyster, as the expression goes (I wasn’t rich, by any means, but I wasn’t as broke as a man with three kids) but I don’t miss it.
As fast as the time went by and as much as the things around me have changed and as un-easy as certain parts of the journey has been, I can’t think of a sound sweeter than that of my children scurrying around in the morning light or a sight more satisfying than that of my wife sleeping soundly on a Monday morning or a taste as pleasant as the coffee I drink because the life I chose is as tiring as they come.
But that’s the point; I chose it, and I’d choose it again.
Speaking of choices, I chose 10 new songs for y’all to indulge in this week. Hope you enjoy!