If you've been following along the last few weeks, you've read all about these two- Holt and Lauren Williamson (But if you haven't, please read their little love story because it all ties into this post! - Part One, Part Two, and Part Three).
If I've taken photos of you in the last six months, or if you're one of my couples for 2016, or if you've just asked me about being a photographer, chances are I've talked to you about these two once or twice (or 100 times, but who's counting?!). Yes, these two are such an attractive couple; yes, they are super photogenic; yes, I was there when they met and witnessed their relationship blossom- but those aren't the only reasons why I want all of my couples and families and portrait clients to be like them.
I lead Young Life in Salt Lake City. Young Life is built around the idea of building relationships with high school students (although the ministry as a whole does extend to middle school, special needs, teen moms, and college students), walking alongside them during this time in their life, and talking to them about what it means to follow Jesus. On the opposite end, I am running this photography business. I'm a part of many groups of people who are chasing after more clients, more money, more blog features, more destination weddings, more camera gear; more, more more. I can't say that I don't identify with this mindset. Truly, there is always something else that I can or should be doing in order to reach more, be able to charge more, put my name out there in more places.
So when I started reflecting and dreaming about this year as it related to this business, I kept bringing myself back to this question: When I am taking photos, when do I feel like my work matters? And it all kept pointing back to the same reason I love leading Young Life. I feel like my work matters when I have put in the time to build relationships with my couples and families.
So when I sent out a questionnaire to have Lauren and Holt fill out so I could blog their story and got nothing by radio silence for a few weeks, you can only imagine how much that affected me. I had built this amazing relationship with them, and I had this absolutely amazing love story that I wanted to share with anyone that would listen, but it wasn't mine to share- it was theirs. And I needed their words to do so. And I didn't have those words.
A few weeks later, I got this text from Lauren- and it all hit me like a ton of bricks.
At the beginning of the year, I wrote about wanting to document the process (you can read that post here), and I really meant it. I want to tell stories that are authentic, stories that are true to who you are, stories that shake you to your core and make you go, "wow, I never thought I'd know someone else who went through that." I want people to know that these stories are not a facade. I'm not slapping the word "story" on my work that only consists of pretty, posed, styled, and culled images.
This text from Lauren made me realize what it is that I'm chasing with this art.
I don't want to just show up on your wedding day, take some pretty pictures, send them over and call it done. I don't want to just be invited into your birthing space, take some pictures, say congrats and leave. I don't want to take the same, posed and styled family photos so you look like the "picture perfect" family everyone tries to be.
I want to be friends with you. I want to know who you are outside of the person who is wearing a pretty dress or a nice suit. I want to check in to see how your honeymoon went and how you're adjusting to life as husband and wife. I want to celebrate with you when you find out you're expecting. I want to document that little bump grow and grow. I want to document your first moments at being a parent. I want to be there as they grow.
You see, I love being a photographer. I love pretty light and styled shoots and the most intricate details. But, more than that, I love stories. I love your story. And I mean it when I say I want to keep telling your story long after the white dress is put away.
I am so thankful for Lauren and Holt and the way they so seamlessly allowed me into their story to tell it in such a real and authentic way. I can't wait to watch Lauren's baby bump grow, and see a mini-Holt grow up. We may not live near each other, but it hardly matters. These two are not clients or just faces in my portfolio. They are our friends.
Before making it public or posting it on Facebook, these two thought that I, their wedding photographer turned friend, deserved to receive this text. They wanted to share their joy with me. I can't even begin to explain what that meant to me.
And that is what this business is all about for us.