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goodbye to a wedding

May 7th, 2023

Well, it’s the end of an era. After forty years in the wedding photography business, I’m done. I just photographed my last wedding yesterday, and it was a fitting ending to a long career photographing one of the most important events in people’s lives.

I was surprised at all the thoughts that ran through my head as the day progressed. I saw glimpses of all the different weddings I had photographed through the years, all the couples and wedding parties. Watching the processional yesterday, I saw all the other people come down the aisle and into a new life, leaving one part of their lives and entering another: all the good and some of the bad events in the business. Yes, I did tear up a little. Here I, too, was leaving a life that I had for forty years.

I had cut my teeth on hundreds of small weddings at the beginning of my career. When I began in the business, I decided to have low prices to attract more people, shoot more weddings, and have more customers refer me, and for years, that worked out well. Many of those were Hispanic weddings, and last night was a lot of Mexican music that I had heard over the years.

I have many stories and memories from the last forty years, and I realized that on Friday when I gave a speech at my Lions club about my wedding experiences. The thirty minutes had passed fast, and I had just touched on the surface of my stories and experiences.

The wedding business has changed over those forty years; when I began, most of the weddings I photographed were in a church, some were small affairs, a few were what were called cake and punch receptions where they just had a few toasts, some cake and punch and guests went on their way. I have not done one of them in maybe thirty years. Weddings are now more outdoor venues and have become more of a competition to see who has the most unique and memorable wedding. It has become more about the show and less about the relationship that is taking place there at the altar.

Of course, I am talking in generalities here, and I know that not every wedding couple is trying to outdo their friend who got married the year before, but for the most part, that is what I have seen. It could also be that I had become disillusioned with the business and what had become the sameness of it all. I was bored at the sameness of the receptions, the toasts, the dances, the cake cutting, the garter bouquet toss. Man, I thought, I’ve done this 1500 or more times already.

But that last wedding brought back only what seemed to be the good times, the excitement of the day, the beauty and the pageantry of the day. The fun and the sadness of the day. Weddings are all that and more, and the people make every wedding different. Yes, I had photographed that same first dance 1,500 times, but each couple brought something different to that moment. It was a different song, a different look, and a different feeling, and that, for the longest time, made the business of wedding photography exciting and fun for me. But for the last couple of years, I knew it was over. It was time to move on and let others take the helm.

September 14, 2023

It’s been four months since that last wedding day, and I have found that I don’t miss it. Over those four months, I have met many couples whose weddings I have shot, and we have relived those days. I am proud to be part of their lives and help them both have a memorable day and relive it on their anniversary every year. Now, I’m happy doing what I am doing: business portrait and volume photography. Working with my wife Javonna doing school and sports is fun and challenging. That’s where I am headed for the next few years.