I read a blog post this morning by Justin & Mary and was compelled to act on what I read. She quotes Steven Pressfield from his book The War of Art. To paraphrase he says in order to not be a hack we need to be honest. Ask ourselves the hard questions and respond with honestly. I immediately thought of a situation that just happened this last weekend and I just have to share it with you all. I am a very open and honest person, so this isn’t too far fetched to be sharing for the world to see, but I am hanging myself out there more than my usual loud-mouth, opinionated self.
The nicest bridal shop in town had a Bride’s Day. It was a big event, sure to bring lots of brides into the store. Naturally we wanted to attend. I offered to take pictures for them. I was happy when they said sure and looked forward to Saturday. A couple days later I received an email from them saying that 3 other photographers had also asked to be a part of the event and they only thought it fair to invite them all too. We are in a small community and this store is only like 1,0000 sq ft. My heart dropped a little. But I agree that the other should be asked too. Then I read further that the others were planning on shooting too. Well… that would be overkill to say it mildly. At that point my concern was for the bride who entered the store looking for a wedding gown to be met by 4 different photographers trying to connect with her. I knew that wouldn’t totally be the case as I know the other photographers are pretty awesome and professional, but there needed to be some form of order. I let go by taking control. I emailed the others to let them know I wouldn’t be bringing my camera and that the others were welcome to shoot instead of me. It was so hard for me to write that email, in all honesty. Taking pictures of the brides ensures they will be coming to my site, remembering me first after the event is finished. After a few emails back and forth we all figured out a basic plan with 2 of the photographers bringing gear. The others were also very gracious in saying they didn’t have to shoot, so far as to me emailing people back to say “wait…well someone has to shoot!”.
The morning of the event came and I left my camera at home. Once the store started getting busy the photographers who brought their cameras started taking pictures of brides trying on gowns, getting to talk with them and swoon over their gorgeous gowns and glowing faces. I was at the front of the store. Alone. When even more brides arrived and needed help they started assuming I worked at the store and was not a photographer. I kept wanting to point to my 3’x4′ picture I took right behind their head, but somehow that just didn’t come up in conversations. At that moment my jealous, selfish heart was rearing it’s ugly head. Photographers are a dime a dozen these days and competition can be very fierce at times. However I know that Jeremiah 29:11 says ” ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope”. I know God has every bride ready for us that He wants us to photograph. And every bride He doesn’t. I had to pray and repeat this to myself in that moment. The last person I want to be is that cut-throat, unfriendly person, fearful of someone beside me taking work from me. There are many of those in the wedding industry and it is just plain silly to us looking at them be that way. And yet here I was, fighting everything within me to not be perturbed. The thing about it was that it was free for me to be there and I has asked them. I had no claim or right to anything! The end of the day came and I can honestly say I talked with literally one bride who knew I was a photographer. That was it. I was a little disheartened by that fact, but I had had a great day! I got to go to lunch with 2 of my fellow photographers. We went to a bridal show across town happening the same day and talked with other vendors together. Even though I was a little bummed, I felt at peace about it and was happy that I had overcome my selfish self and because of it had gotten to know two great women a little better.
I got in the car to drive the hour home and my phone dinged. An email with a bride inquiring about a wedding. A little while later-another, then another. I woke up in the morning to a fourth inquiry. After church we received a fifth! In an 18 hour period we received 5 inquiries. That is a lot for those of you who don’t know. In that moment I felt stupid for being so petty. Sometimes it is very hard to choose the right emotions. I am not gonna lie. It was hard not bringing my camera. It was hard not getting to talk with brides. It was a little blow to my ego people assuming I was the help at the bridal store and not an award winning photographer. BUT I gained a great afternoon with friends, an honest happiness for other photographer’s success, and the reminder that God is in control and He wants what is best for us.
Here are some pictures that our friend Chris Ohta took from the event. He did an amazing job taking pictures for the brides. I am so thankful to work with a bunch of other photographers who are genuinely happy for other photographers too. If they are like my heart, they do a great job quelling it too! 🙂