I don't hate weddings …
I have a job to do. And it starts with a mental affirmation.
Think of all the pretty pictures.
Don't even have to close my eyes. … the inspiration is all right in front of me.
A sunlit field. A treeline pond. The most beautiful place for a wedding if ever there was one. And I haven't even mentioned the bride; a natural beauty from all angles even when her face twists into an asymmetric sneer just for laughs.
There was no way to screw this up, short of equipment malfunction or stunning natural disaster.
There I was, cameras in hand and filled with dread, trying to blend into the woodwork.
I don't hate weddings. I just harbor the Charles Bukowski sentiment of happening to "feel better when they're not around."
It's an odd attribute for a so-called wedding photographer to harbor, I'll admit.
If shooting one wedding a year (that I refuse payment for) suffices for the use of that moniker.
I just have to do my thing. Be me. Plod on through the awkwardness of my being.
"Be careful of this one," laughed the father of the bride. "If anyone makes a horrible face, smacks a kid or falls into the water, she'll get the pinnacle moment. Guaranteed."
I am not put off by his jest or the statement. He knows me well enough to know he was opening a door. He'd probably even asked for that imaginary picture to be framed for posterity.
Of course, in that moment, I had to confess to feeling apprehensive. And going through a penance of meaculpas, to I'm not sure what ends. I should have said 'No.' The bride would have been better off with a real photographer. Someone who can control a crowd.
He assured me I am exactly the perfect fit.
I have never been a commanding presence. And weddings -- despite their familiar form -- always need someone at the helm whose skills include taming lions and herding cats.
That's not me. I'm not even skilled at pouring liquids through a funnel.
I can't seem to make the scene in front of me – the 160 guests; a roasted pig; the bathroom on wheels, fancier than any fixture in my house – fit into Just An Ordinary Day.
Behind a lens, however, I have a sense of timing that seems to work in my favor. I don't even understand why or how. It just happens.
Maybe it's as simple as the difference between looking and seeing.
Which I guess is also the bridge between pomp and circumstance.
For richer or poorer.
In sickness and health.
As long as we both shall live.
The most meaningful, if not somber moments of the entire event, lifted by a kiss and a DJ spinning "The Best Day of My Life."
And me, clicking away the whole time.
It was a really good day. Maybe one of the best.
That evening as pictures of smiles and glances full of love flash past me, and I funneled them into cyberspace for an optimal viewing experience; I breathed a little easier.
I know why I don't hate weddings. As good as they are, they remind me, the best days are still to come.