Five ways wedding photography has changed me

November 12, 2020
Sarah Vivienne photographing table decor at a marquee wedding

One of my favourite childhood memories is dropping film (yep – actual old-school camera film!) off at Boots for developing.

Snuggled inside that tiny black plastic barrel, this film was full of hope and anticipation. I’d fiddle with the flexible lid, rolling it on and off (just a little, it was important not to let any light in) with a satisfying snap.

I’d pass the container over to the shop assistant, and then dream about what would develop (pun intended) in just a few days.

Okay, sure, I say “just a few days”, but trust me – the wait felt like an absolute eterrrrrnity.

So by the time the photos were ready to collect, I’d rip the envelope open and flick through the photos on the spot, totally immersed in my own exciting world and completely oblivious to everything else going on around me.

I’d buy an album on the way out, then rush home to spend the evening cross-legged on my bed, putting them into order and lovingly sticking them into the album.

Even the random – but inevitable – shots of my blurry fingertips made me smile.

Because even way back when building my Sindy collection was my biggest life goal, I saw the world in pictures.

And although it was a long and winding path to becoming a wedding photographer, taking photos was always on my mind… But I had no idea how much taking photos for a living would change my life.

Curious how being a professional photographer can transform you? Here are five ways photography has changed me into who I am today.

Five ways photography has made me me

I now notice the little things

Back in my corporate days, I didn’t realise the little things were a thing. Life was a blur of deadlines and demands. I spent most days rushing from meeting to meeting to meeting. And I never even considered slowing down and taking time to really notice things.

But, as a photographer, it’s my job to make sure I don’t miss the little details of your day.

Because it’s only when you slow down, that you notice the intricacies… The way an old door has worn at the edges. How a grandmother squeezes her grandson’s hand just before he walks down the aisle. The glee on a child’s face as they bite into a sugar sprinkle doughnut at the reception…

It’s a world that so many miss, but one that never fails to make me smile.

Page boy asleep on his mum's lap during hymns
Naps wait for no-one

I’ve learned to appreciate light

Light is easy to take for granted. Heck, before I became a photographer, I never even thought about it.

So when I sashayed off to a photography conference as a newbie, I decided Costa Coffee was more appealing than the ‘Using Natural Light’ seminar. “Pfft! Light? Why do I need to know about that?”⁣ ⁣

I’m not kidding. I was a walking cliché – all the gear and no idea. That soon changed!

Learning to see and understand how to use light changed everything.

The more I learned about it, the more my world burst to life… Sparkles of light twinkling across the top of the water on a sunny day. Clouds floating past during sunset, transforming one sky into many in the blink of an eye. And the way the low autumn sun shines through the trees making patterns on the ground.⁣ I could spend hours just watching light play.

Through learning to see light, I found a love for spending time in nature. And I’m so grateful for that.

I can see beauty in everything*

Before becoming a wedding photographer, I thought beauty was all about things like sunsets and sunflowers. Things which are commonly thought to be beautiful. But through photography, I’ve discovered it’s everywhere.

The way a blade of top-heavy grass curves under the weight of its seeds and sways in the wind. The changing height measurements of long grown-up children revealed by peeling wallpaper in a derelict home…

Wedding photography has taught me to see beyond first impressions, and explore things more deeply, to work out how to show something off at its best. Because everything is beautiful in some way. You just need to be open-minded and take the time to see it.

*Even the rusty oil can that someone left on the dining room table in front of me. Pftttt…. But when I stop and really look? The mottled orange tones, climbing up from the inside like they’re trying to escape, are a delight.

Engaged couple in front of an old wooden door

I’ve become a country girl

Pre-wedding photography, I was a townie through and through. There was something about being immersed in the crowds and chaos (not to mention the cafes and shops) that made me buzz.

But the more I escaped town for weddings in the countryside, the more I realised there’s peace in the pause.

And now, being in the middle of nowhere is my favourite thing.

The soothing sound of waves crashing against the shore, colourful leaves crackling under my wellies as I walk in the woods…

Ahhhh… There’s nothing like the creative rush of photography whilst soaking up the calming atmosphere of nature.

Yep, countryside weddings are my crumpets and cuppa tea.

I’m more flexible

No no no! I don’t mean I’m a whiz at downward dog. I mean I’m *now* more flexible with planning.  And, yep, there’s a reason “now” is huddling in asterisks … because in my corporate days, I was definitely NOT flexible.

“Sarah, you need to be more willing to change plans mid-way through a project.” my boss told me as I got annoyed with yet more moving goalposts of yet another project.

“But,” I protested. “I worked so hard on creating the perfect plan!”

It took me a while to learn that lesson. So the universe sent it back to me in a new disguise.

In my early days as a wedding photographer, I made detailed plans for each wedding outlining exactly what photos I’d take where and when.

(My wedding photographer friends will be sniggering knowingly.)

(I even roll my eyes at myself.)

And when something scuppered my plan, I was so fixated on following it, that I got flustered and found it hard to think on the fly.

That lasted maybe one or two weddings. Because I soon learned that weddings don’t go to plan and that any number of things – like furniture move-arounds at the venue, continually changing light, and constantly moving guests – can throw a plan off course.

So I made my plans looser. And as time has gone on, I’ve learned to trust my experience and intuition, and go with the flow more. I’ve realised that the magic is in the unplanned moments.

Being a wedding photographer is more than just a job – it’s part of me. And I love who it’s turning me into. I wonder what I’ll be able to add to this list in another few years.

And even though I’m no longer counting down the minutes to collect my precious packet of prints, sorting through the photos of another weekend’s beautiful country wedding makes Monday the best day of the week.

What to read next: Thinking about booking me to be your wedding photographer? Want to make sure I’m not a boggart first? Read more about my story here.