Sometimes, a lot of times actually, I meet people because of work. We show up to some pre-determinded destination after having exchanged emails, or phone calls, and try to break the ice quickly before the camera goes up. Most people handle this rigid exercise with a heavy degree of uncertainty and that's to be expected.
Being photographed is a far more personal experience than you realize, until you're standing there doing it.
You don't know what to do with your hands, you wonder if you chose the correct outfit, if you'll look stiff and posed in your images. But you realize the overarching importance of professionally documenting milestone moments in your life. You get excited to see the final images, and perhaps think of what they'll look like hanging in your space at home. A constant reminder of the beautiful relationship that you so carefully created with another person, quietly hanging over you at dinner, or while you watch Netflix. Okay, you can do this. It's really not that big of a deal.
As a photographer, I've become more sensitive to peoples hesitations going into a shoot. It is, after all, my job to make people feel at ease so I can go about taking beautiful images of them. You can tell when people arrive what their expectations are, if they're nervous or confident. I'm terrible at chit-chat, so I usually dive right in an proclaim how awkward taking photos is, and how there are NONE of me, because it makes me anxious. I promise to do my best to direct them when needed, which puts most people at ease.
I rarely direct, though. I'll place people in a position, and start talking to them like they're old friends and telling catty jokes and spouting off random information in an attempt to transition them into a sense of comfort. And it works. Almost always, people take the bait and they begin to let down. They start kissing each others noses and doing goofy things that they'd be doing if I weren't there. We talk about how they met, and these stories are NEVER simple. They're raw, and exposed. Our conversations narrow from the trivialities of life, to the essential meaning of it instead. It's a blessing, to know people so well in a matter of two hours.
Then we part ways, say our goodbyes and insist that it went well. I can tell when I get in the car that I am going straight home to pour through the gallery. I have never been able to stop myself from looking at a session that very night. I secretly hope that there's an image or two that they'll see and think, "Wow, nobody has ever seen us like that." They are meticulously, but quickly edited, exported to a folder buried in a hard-drive (ask Belle about my intimate relationship with hard-drive organization) optimized, uploaded to an online gallery, and delivered.
Then I receive an email, thanking me for the shoot and the images. Wondering how to purchase prints or a release.
And that should be it. Fin. Done.
But for SOME REASON, I keep up with these people, or they keep up with me. Countless couples have emailed me on a regular basis following their session. It's mind-boggling. KRISTIN & ADAM my new BFF's, Brianna from Valdosta, GA. Angelica from Charlotte. Olivia from San Diego. Chelsea and Steven from Charlotte. Carley in AVL. Lyndsey from GA. Tori from AVL. Jazmine from CA. I'm totally hooked on meeting these people now. And 2018 is already shaping up to be a year filled with memorable people and places.
I can't wait.
So this year on Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for my clients. Y'all are the best.