So it's my 19th wedding anniversary and it's been a while since I looked at those pictures. They are pictures taken during a by gone photography age when the formal photographer had a medium format camera and nearly every photo he took was staged, not only that they stayed until the cake was cut, up to the first dance and they were gone.
If you were lucky a few friends had cameras and took some snaps through the night on a range of film cameras. If you were even luckier they got some pictures worth keeping and gave them to you.
Either way the moments in time were captured and memories were saved. I don't look at those pictures too much, and I really should look at them more. It's nearly 20 years now. Many people have come and gone and it's these pictures that capture them at their best. My Father in Law, never prouder, my Father never happier. Mother and Mother in Law beaming alike. Older generations are captured also, Grandparents on both sides, all of them now long departed. The small children in those pictures now all grown up and in some cases married themselves.
Since becoming a photographer I look at these memories in a different light, with a different purpose. These are the pictures of our day, the pictures of memories long since faded. More than that they are a window to a generation that my children rarely saw if at all, and sadly barely got to know or remember.
Almost 20 years on it's never been easier for people to take a picture we all carry camera phones and frankly they take a fine picture but in some ways the photo has been devalued because of it. When was the last time you sat down with holiday pictures, printed 30 or so and put them in an album. They mostly stay on the phone, or computer and as soon as they were taken, forgotten, it's onto the the next event. Instagram ... the clue is in the name Instant not Lasting.
I'm often asked why professional photographers are seemingly so expensive, after all as I said we all carry cameras and the gap to professional equipment for a budding hobbyist is now shorter, if you can afford a high end camera and lens you can buy them and use them. However when you hire a professional to capture your memories you are getting so much more, not only do I carry many bodies and lenses, all for a purpose and a reason, but I know how to use them. I know how to cope should something break, should the evening not go to plan. But it's not just that, you are investing in my style, my personality and my skill, in short you are trusting me to capture the event for you. It has taken me many many years to get to this stage and I've not learnt it all, I'm still inspired by every picture see. I try to deconstruct it and look at how it was made, what I can learn from it. I also know what to do with a picture once it's gone from camera and on the computer. I have spent many hours, and continue to spend many more, with Photoshop and it's companions. I can make a photograph into a picture and a picture into a memory. A memory that will go beyond my life time.
Many times, too many to tell, I will be told that, after consideration a friend or family member has offered to standing and take pictures at an event. That's fine, I started there too, but I always wanted to be a photographer in the end, once I had experience and skill. I've been at functions where the friend is taking the pictures and frankly often I have to hold myself back, knowing precious moments are going by without being captured.
So it's 20 years almost since my wedding pictures were taken and there have been a lot more taken since. I do look at them from time to time and now and again that old fashioned leather album comes off the shelf and we remember the night. We look at it more than the video. Video, who has one of those machines any more, my children don't know what a DVD is let alone a video. Once a photo's been printed it's there it's won't ever date, be in a format you can't use any more. Sure the computers are going to come and go and the electronic image formats will change but print a picture, keep a memory.
People ask me why I'm a photographer, what's my favorite thing to shoot, how can I put up with the stress of the job. Frankly I worked for years in the City that was stress. Nothing beats loving what you do for a living and putting smiles on faces. What's my favorite thing to photograph ? The trite answer is the pictures I haven't taken yet and that's true, but then it's also the pictures I already took. Pregnant mothers, new born babies, birthday parties, family portraits, bat and bar mitzvahs, weddings, 70th birthdays and everything else in between. I hope that all of those pictures will stay with their families for many many years, family histories to be told to generations beyond this. In the more immediate future, babies change so quickly, children grow rapidly, events come and go, your grandparents and parents will pass. Hold all of those things in your hands for forever with a professional photo and please print them and keep them safe.