It used to be that if you could get a publisher to print your book it meant you had something valuable to say. Now, anyone can get a book deal if they want, and most publishers are in decline. This is a monumental shift. Thought and meaning have been anchored by words since the beginnings of the scribal tradition, and before that even in oral tradition. The integrity of ideas passed down in these traditions is well documented. For example, if a scribe had even a few letters wrong in a manuscript of the Torah it was burned and the work began again. Over time, dissemination of these ideas was pushed from the few with knowledge and money to all who could afford a paperback. And now anyone can publish themselves on a blog for free!
Today people are less sure of abstract ideas and many value tangible experiences above words and thoughts. Concepts of communication are in flux. To feel something is thought to be the more “real” experience of life than to intellectually know something. What this means is that the mediums of creative expression which catch us up in the moment are often more impactful teachers than a thought communicated to the intellect through words alone. From a creative standpoint photos and video have the most powerful potential because they capture and direct the imagination as well as the intellect. Cinema perhaps, even more so than photography.
As I see it, photography stands between the printed word and the living image. The photo doesn’t change and will always be what it is from the moment of capture. Stuck there to be analyzed, felt, critiqued and experienced. Comparatively the experience of cinema is constantly changing and does not allow for as much time to reflect upon the goals or intentions of the directors and writers as one moment gives way to another. Yet cinema can communicate and evoke emotions in different ways than a photo. A photograph is still subjective and experiential as a medium but it allows for a much more defined experience. By now you’re probably thinking, where is this all going? Well hang in there because there is a point to this rambling and I think it’s one worth consideration.
Weddings are also deeply subjective experiences. The nuances of the meaning of a couple’s wedding day are unique, and the nature of the union is a very profound and deep truth. The symbolism tied to the many elements of a wedding day are steeped in the love, hope and dreams of the couple as they stand on the edge of the rest of their life, both now and forever, together. Beyond the personal bits of each wedding celebration, in the mutual sacrificial love between husband and wife we see what Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love for the world meant. It is a perfect picture of His love. This is spelled out in many places throughout the New Testament.
The images of a couple’s wedding day serve as reminders to all of these hopes, and a monument to the principles upon which their relationship is founded in those very moments. I often fight for composure during the more tender moments of the wedding day as I try to capture the essence of what is occurring. When the going gets tough I know that my couples have beautiful images of a day that symbolized, started and meant so much to them. To say that I am blessed to be a witness to these treasured moments week in and week out is an immense understatement.
At the end of the day, 5, 10, and even 50 years later I know that these photos will serve as reminders to the hopes, truth, love and sacrifice that marriage means, even when things get hard and remembering is a challenge.
I believe that reminders are important and needed. How often do we forget what we are doing? “Why did I go into the kitchen, I mean I know I was going to get something… but what?” Or on a more serious level, why did I take that job, or make that move… what is the purpose? When we have reminders we can ford the rougher waters of life with a little less anxiety. They anchor us, like words to ideas, like a photo to a memory.
That’s why I give up so much for this profession. That’s why I can work long hours, then come home and work longer still. This work is one that creates something beautiful. Sure it’s pretty dresses and flowers, and laughter and smiles. But it is so much more than that too. It’s the moment he realizes he was wrong, and loves you so much he will lower his pride and admit that. It’s the moment you decide to continue loving and trusting him to lead as he should. It’s the moment your son tells you he can’t wait to love his wife the way Daddy loves Mommy when he grows up. In the moments leading up to these, I know that my clients will look up and see reminders on their wall, or down to the coffee table and see an album, remember what it’s about. I hope that they will remember what it meant to them and make the right decisions. I hope that the legacy of these remembrances will leave an imprint on their children’s hearts. I hope that remembering will be many small decisions that lead to more successful, joy-filled, selflessly loving marriages. And that is a work worth everything if you ask me.
What do your wedding photos mean to you? Do you find some other meaning in them? Maybe the symbolism in the rituals captured has helped you in some way?? I would love to hear all about it! Sound off in the comments section below, share! We’re all friends here.