Hard Work {Personal}

"there is joy in work. 
there is happiness...in the realization that we have accomplished something."
henry ford


After a number of those wonderfully long yet incredibly fast and also blindsidingly exhasuting weekends, 
I'm spending my Monday slowly getting house and office back in ship shape.

But I have a thought running a track in my head,
and at each lap it reminds me of it's presence up there:
Working as a wedding photographer is hard work.

THE hardest work of all?
No, not by a long shot.
Are there more emotionally, physically, mentally, relationally tedious and difficult jobs?

Am I a saint who should be awarded, heralded and praised for the throes of stress and complexity and charity I enter each weekend?

Hahahah heck no.

But being a wedding photographer is in fact hard work.
Let's exclude the "work" of getting to a place where you truly are skilled and trusted enough to shoot weddings, for a X price, and let's also exclude the "work" involved before the wedding, namely e-mails, meetings, office work.  I'll also exclude the hours of editing, production and presentation of a final product.

The wedding day.
6 hours.
7 hours. 
8 hours?
9? 10? Even 12 hour shooting days.

It starts with getting a (hopefully) good-nights sleep.
Not forgetting anything - cards, bodies, lenses, batteries, back-ups, la-ti-da.
In my area, at least, most venues take an hour to drive to (give or take.)
(But the past seven days I've shot weddings in three different states,
which has ended up being about 16 hours of driving time total.)
I have to factor in traffic, getting lost, and possibly getting pulled over (my bad.)
into my wedding day travel plans.

Once you arrive, the fun begins in a blessed, effort-ful whirlwind.

Making bad light not seem so suck-y "Maybe you could move closer to the window to put your veil on?"
Getting angles that don't show your soon-to-be-sister-in-laws panties in the background.
Getting flattering angles.
Getting details.  Oh those details.
Making sure your second-shooter is where she ought to be.
Staying on schedule - but being flexible when needed, but also firm when needed,
and having the wisdom and social skills to know which is needed ;)

Interacting with dozens of new people, gaining trust, adding to the joy of the day,
but also not "getting in the way" or being obtrusive.
Being "creatively-on" for hours.
Being fast on your feet, being smart under pressure, and staying composed - 
even if the ERROR sign is flashing in your camera.

This is no family portrait shoot you can reschedule tomorrow.
This is it.
One shot, baby.
One wedding, one day, nail it or bust.

Let's not mention the tipsy/tipsier/drunk groomsmen... or the incredibly reluctant, bored, stubborn groomsmen.
Or the wonderful groomsmen who you wish you could shoot for three hours, but only have ten minutes.
The cranky kids, perhaps?
The too-traditional-for-a-modern-bride event coordinator.
The awkward video guy.
The loud mother-in-law.
Whiny bridesmaids.
Who knows what kind of people you'll run into during a wedding day ;)
But a photographer has the important job of making them each feel comfortable,
without causing the un-comfort of another.

Then we throw in weather.
Scalding hot, freezing cold, rainy, humid, too dark, too bright.
Let me tell you, there is nothing like getting a picture prepped,
while carrying a bag of equipment, after being on your feet for, oh, four plus hours,
with sweat running down your thighs,
bees flying under your dress (true story),
and mascara dripping into your view-finder
WHILE acting like this moment is the most beautiful, magical, deliriously perfect moment the heavens have ever seen.

Some weddings I have a full hour with the couple alone,
other weddings I have a full ten minutes.
And half of the time the groom spent adjusting his tie.
The night rolls on, you are tired, your toes are blistered,
your arm-pits STANK, your neck is sore,
it's getting late, there is a long drive ahead of you...

You gotta make it work.
The tears in the ceremony, the little smiles, the hand-squeezes by proud parents.
The things unnoticed? You must notice.
The things easily forgotten? You must be there so they can remember.

But you aren't merely there, like some host, you are there as an artist.
You are turning an event into a picture.
Real skin and real clothes and real people 
get eternally stopped by the scroll of your hand and the push of your finger
and transferred via blocked light and sensors to a screen.
This screen, this sheet, this canvas you create is the art they will have to stare it.
"Remember this day, dear? Look at us. We were so young."
Being a wedding photographer is personal.
It's beautiful.
It's creative.
It's effort.
It's worth it.

And more then anything, working as a wedding photographer is hard work because it's work.
Working is hard work.
Working is work.
Anything we do as work should take effort. We should be tired. We should give all we have.
Work isn't rest.
Working as a wedding photographer isn't rest.
I don't care if you are a flight attendant, mother, ear-piercer, CEO or ride operator at Disneyland.
Throw yourself into.
Work at your work.

That's why it is so important to have "work" that you love.
When I was a captain of my highschool basketball team, 
I busted  my butt (and knees and elbows and ankles) for that team,
and worked as hard as I possibly could.
And I just loved it.

When I show up at a wedding, the same feelings of "this is work" and "I love this" apply.
It's very hard to put extreme effort, care and heart into something you don't enjoy.
Or at the very best you don't believe is fully worth it.
Maybe you don't love the job you work to pay through school,
but you know paying through school is worth it.
So you w.o.r.k.

I'd be lying if I said I "loooOOooved" every single moment of every single wedding I shoot.
I don't think the brides themselves enjoy every single moment ;)
But I believe and stand behind my work 110%.
I believe in marriage,
I believe in love,
I believe in memories,
I believe in celebration.
I believe in creativity.
I believe in personality.
I believe in work.

"When he began his business he said to God,
with a full trust in Him,
'O my God, apply my mind to these things,
I beseech Thee to grant me grace to continue,
and to this end receive all my works and possess all my affections."
b. lawrence 
Why do I say all this?
Sometimes I just have remind myself.
And writing things out is sometimes a good way to remind oneself.


  1. !

    I'm a lit teacher on summer break, but I still have a lot to do. So anyway, I'm sitting at Panera staring at my computer and thinking NO. I do NOT WANT to write curriculum now. I DON'T WANNA WORK.

    Then I read your post. Thanks for reminding me to get my head in the game and take this work thing seriously. It truly is a blessing and a way that we imitate our creator God.

    p.s. I probably haven't ever commented on your blog before, but I love it. I found you two years ago ago when I was snooping around the web for wedding ideas... your photos are gorgeous.

  2. WOW. i lovelovelove this post.
    you should have been a poet, even if you weren't trying ;) or a motivational speaker. :) haha you make me laugh.

  3. Those were wonderful, true thoughts, Kristen!! Thank you for sharing :D

  4. Kristen - this post totally encompasses everything I have experienced in the last two months of non-stop weddings (with no end in sight) and today just totally exhausted. This was great to read and be reminded of my own thoughts on the subject, and be encouraged by another person who totally understands :)

    I don't think we've ever formally met, but you shot Noah and Courtney Welch's wedding and I was there, so I know you, but you don't know me... buahahahaa!

    thanks for this post

  5. I loved this post, Kristen :o) I'm going to even bookmark it for future reference/reminder! Everything you wrote = so true!

  6. Love it!! =) I still totally want to be a wedding photog, though. =)

  7. Oh my goodness Kristen. This is just about everything I've been thinking lately, summed up in one blog post. So eloquent and so true down to the T. Awesome, awesome post.

  8. you're awesome kristen! thanks for telling it like it is for those of us (like me) who don't really realize how much work goes into your beautiful photos! =)

  9. I met you years ago at the Felts-Lam wedding in DC. You were all of those awesome juggled balls you mentioned above. And I still follow your blog now because you are so incredibly talented in a myriad of ways. Big fan alert! Makes me want to get married all over again (to the same hunky guy, of course), just to have you take the pictures. xoxo! You are awesome!

  10. ohmygosh. AMEN.
    To all of it.
    To the irritating flower girl whom the bride wants to "fire." To the very-inappropriate groomsmen. To being offered alcohol like tenbilliontimes and declining like a professional each time.. to the organist who plays a random 15 minute long (I counted!!!) solo in the middle of the ceremony! WHY?!?!
    To being calm... when no one else is.
    To being happy... the whole day.
    To being empathetic.. sympathetic... without being pathetic. ;)
    To working like a dog, while wearing dress clothes, and earning every.single.penny that you make.

    Thanks for the reminder. :D Because my feet reeeeeeeally hurt today. :D

  11. Oh my goodness! How timely! I just did my first wedding for a friend: 11 hours, poor light every where all day, and no food. But when I got back in my car after that day, exhausted, I couldn't help buy beam with pleasure.

  12. well... i absolutely love your work and check this sight often even though I can't even remember how I got here in the first place. Praise God for His work in giving you the strength and joy to do what you do so that you can do it so well!

  13. So beautifully said.. Wonderful!

  14. thanks for 'reminding yourself' out loud. good stuff.

  15. I love this post. You wrote it honestly and were able to put so many things in writing that I think but don't know how to say.


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