Why we do what we do

I don’t really know how many weddings I have photographed in my life. I never really counted them. I do have a record of each one, an entry in my calendar and of course copies of all the images taken.  My rough estimate, based on how often I was shooting during the past seven years of my career is… over 400. I know it is not a crazy high number, I know photographers who have done thousands. However, Imagine being a part of somebody’s life more than 400 times. The difference for me is that each one of those weddings was not just a job. Do weddings sometimes feel like just a job ? Oh well… I would have to lie if I said they don’t. There were times when I found myself shooting my third of a weekend with not too much sleep during the past two nights. At the end of such day you start wondering whether you are going to make it home or just fall asleep driving… but that’s not my point.

Every wedding photographer has stories to tell. When I look back at my 400+ events I remember so many good stories. Dramatic and trivial. Sad and funny. A few years ago I was shooting at a popular venue in New Jersey. It is close to cake cutting time, the maitre d’ approaches me and says “You were here just a few weeks ago, weren’t you ?” I said “yes”. “Do you happen to have any good shots of the cake we had that night ?”, “sure” – I answered. “Good… see, accidentally we lost the middle level of the cake for tonight…if we bring it out with just the base and the top will you be able to photoshop the mid-level in later on ?”. I don’t remember what my reply to that was but I remembered this as a quite extra ordinary cake cutting ceremony and this interesting look on bride and groom’s faces, something like “whatta… “ .

 During the past seven years I witnessed a person passing away at a wedding (if you really think about it – it’s not such a bad way to leave this world, you are after all having good time probably among people you love !), I drove the bride in her dress in my own car when the newlyweds were stranded and forgotten by their limo company after the ceremony and I was chasing a cat that stole the rings all around the backyard of a groom’s house. I photographed weddings in most gorgeous places and settings and also in the most severe and ruthless weather. With all this experience and memories it is easy to start thinking “yeah, I’ve seen it all…” and then… something happens.  

This past Saturday myself, Monika and Zlatko worked together to cover the wedding of Christie and John. We thought the most amazing thing about their day was the absolutely incredible luck with the weather. The forecast said STRONG STORMS between 1pm and 4pm. The ceremony was scheduled for 3pm and it was… yes, you guessed it, an outside ceremony. Against all odds the bride decided to go with it and… not a drop of rain fell on us during or after the ceremony. We were stunned but little did we know – the most incredible event of the night was just about to happen. Shortly after the beginning of the reception the groom was rushed to a local emergency room with severe pain in his stomach… imagine what kind of effect such an occurrence can have on all the guests and the poor bride. Worried out of her mind Christie decides to stay because… that’s what the groom wants – he sends a message from the hospital that he wants the party to go on. So the guests are dancing, the meals are served but of course it’s not the same anymore. At some point another announcement is heard through the speakers – the groom is fine but he is suffering from a kidney stone. Also – there will be no cake cutting, Christie can’t imagine doing it without her groom. The night goes on and the reception is almost over when the maid of honor picks up the mike again ! Guess what – the groom is on his way back ! He is tough and a fighter, we knew that but still… what an amazing comeback ! Have you seen “ROCKY” ? or any other “hero” movie for that matter ? Do you know that feeling at the bottom of your belly when tables turn and good guys come back to win the fight and and triumph in the end ? (with uplifting, cool music playing in the background !) You would have to be there with us to experience the euphoria of the guests screaming at the top of their lungs when John was entering the tent:

 

 …hugging his bride:

 

…and dancing with her like there’s no tomorrow:

 

 

It doesn’t really matter how many weddings I shot. The numbers don’t mean much. How and what we remember matters. What happened a few nights ago reminded me why we do what we do.

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8 Comments

  1. Christie said . . .

    Tears in my eyes (again) …

    some of my favorite comments from the reception:
    “i think this calls for a do-over”
    “table 14 unanimously votes to make john an official Arlotta”
    “class act”
    “welcome to life with johnny”
    “we were all wishing so hard for it not to rain that we didn’t realize we also had to ask for no kidney stones!”

    ;)

    thanks, david & monika & zlatko, for capturing the craziness of our wedding.

    Posted June 5, 2008 at 8:52 pm | Permalink
  2. karin vecchio said . . .

    Great eye!!! love the pictures and we were so glad to be part of their wonderful day

    Posted June 5, 2008 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
  3. Mike Pelligra said . . .

    Wow, Looks like I missed a great wedding. The pictures are amazing. No food shots??????????

    Mike

    Posted June 5, 2008 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  4. dorothy kluchinski said . . .

    I’m almost crying!
    Wonderful that John’s kidney stone co-operated and exited in time for him to return to the reception.
    You’ve surely started your married life with a lot of drama!
    Hope the rest of your life together is more “tranquil.”

    Many, many hugs and Best Wishes!

    Love,
    Dorothy and John

    Posted June 6, 2008 at 1:47 am | Permalink
  5. Nichole Sajdak said . . .

    The Rocky-like hands clasped in victory — with the hospital band still on — is quite the keeper.

    I’m glad everything is going along smoother now, but, you certainly have an interesting Wedding Day tale to tell. And you weathered it all gracefully!

    Nic

    Posted June 6, 2008 at 10:37 am | Permalink
  6. Mary Arlotta said . . .

    Dear Christie & John,
    You’ve got to do something different with that stone. What a keepsake! Put it together with the picture of your hands and the hospital band. Or maybe just pulverize it on your first anniversary. Either way, the stone made a memorable day even more so.
    Love you both,
    Mary

    Posted June 6, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
  7. Kaitlyn said . . .

    Beautiful pictures….i especially like the one with John’s Hospital band ….lol. Congratulations again, I love you both and wish you the best of luck!

    Posted June 11, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  8. Justine said . . .

    Well Chritie & John you guys definately no how to keep it interesting!!!! I’m so glad you passed that thing… The pictures are all so beautiful, the hands with the band is a keeper, that’s legendary!!! Beautiful wedding, beautiful bride, beautiful groom, And Two beautiful hearts!!!! I love you guys, oh and John you are so an official Arlotta, lol!!!!!!

    Posted June 23, 2008 at 1:18 am | Permalink

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