I’ll admit it- last Saturday, I was frustrated. My brother and his then-fiancée-now-wife had been planning their wedding for over a year and I was SO excited to photograph their big day. Ethan and I have had a bit of a tumultuous relationship (as I’m sure most older brothers and their annoying younger sisters have), and this was a chance for me to bless him, to serve him and his new wife. Plus, they were getting married on Bald Head Island, a place I’d been DYING to shoot for years now. So I worked with Jess, my new sister, to create a timeline when I could see they didn’t have one, making sure we had enough time for all the necessary family + bridal party photos, and then plenty of time for couples’ pictures for Ethan & Jess to treasure.
But then life happened (as life often does) and the wedding day schedule was crunched. REALLY crunched. Where I’d originally schedule an hour and and a half to allow for photos, I now had eight minutes.
Eight minutes to take the wedding portraits I’d been dreaming of in my dream location. Eight minutes to capture their joy, to document their bliss. Eight minutes. No more.
The next day on our morning run around the island, I was lamenting to my dad how disappointed I was. That I’d had this tremendous opportunity to create incredible images in front of me but because of the time crunch, I now had a handful of rushed photos that I didn’t feel did the couple or the atmosphere justice. And then my dad, in his everlasting wisdom, said something that pulled me up short:
“But Abby, it’s not about you.”
Ethan & Jess are incredibly laid back- easy going, not stressed by a fluctuating schedule. So when everything was pushed back by an hour on their wedding day, the only person who was panicking was me. Panicking because I wouldn’t get to satisfy my desire to shoot the portraits that I wanted, in the location I wanted.
Let’s take a look at that last sentence and see how many times I referred to myself- I, my, I, I. Four times.
It’s ok that I was disappointed by the crunched schedule- what photographer wouldn’t be? But I was failing to see the big picture- my desires for the day ranked BELOW what Ethan & Jess wanted, and they were ok with those eight minutes in light of the scheduling shift. So even though I was bummed, eight minutes should have been enough for me if it was enough for them. And in the end, we managed to get quite a few portraits that I loved, ones that I know they’ll be proud to frame. I just wish, during those eight minutes, that I’d discarded my “woe is we and my abbreviated portrait session” attitude and chosen to reJOICE in the new union these two, in the fact that my brother was blissfully and incandescently happy in the moment.
The point of my rambling is to remind myself that sometimes, even with as much planning and meticulous attention as I devote to a timeline, things get crunched. It just happens. And my job in that moment isn’t to freak out and feel sorry for myself. It’s to keep the big picture in mind- that this bride and this groom are getting MARRIED, and my job is to document that love, that joy, that bliss in whatever form it takes. Sometimes the best of plans go awry and keeping the big picture in mind honors my couples above myself, serving them in the best way possible.