Is it even possible to be part of the moment if you are capturing the moment? Then, is it possible to see the moment if you are viewing the moment from the lens of another?
For a very short time, my memory of my own wedding day was of the way my husband’s eyes looked as he made a life long vow to me. That same memory felt the sunshine on my forehead and the way our fingers felt as they trembled in front of our friends and family. And yes, I still hold a sliver of this memory. But now, that moment, our vow sharing, has transformed into something completely different. It is now a memory from the eyes of another (well, two others): Our Photographers.
Their view is breathtaking, it is beautiful, it is vivid, and it is symmetrical — but it has faded my own. The more I look at the pictures, prints, and memory books, the more our photographers’ view becomes my own memory. And to think, the photographers’ memories are not even close to mine… They consist of sweaty shoes, sore calves, and a cocktail that was never finished because it was time for my bouquet toss…
I have conjured memories of my own wedding day from the lens of another; And now I am left wondering how many memories I myself, a life-long photographer enthusiast and now professional, have altered. Have I actually captured my clients/friends’ special days and personal memories? Or have I given them a separate set of moments, captured by my lens, that neither I, nor they, ever truly experienced? Is it then possible for another, unassociated person, to have those same memories from the same detached viewpoint?
What happens when we see instead of capture? And what happens when we capture instead of see? And for that matter, what viewpoint do we develop when we only view the captured, without seeing? Is one way superior?
Interestingly enough, the strongest memory of my wedding day is not one that was caught on camera. Our photographers’ 8 hours of paid shooting time was long past and the night was coming to an end when my brand new husband whispered in my ear, “look around”, “these people will never all be in the same room, ever again.” As I glanced from face to face, our friends and family all swayed back and forth, shoulders locked, singing an off pitch rendition of “Country Roads”. I smelled my husband’s neck, a mix of sweaty cologne and aftershave, and tears filled my eyes because I knew I would never forget. I also knew that no one else would ever feel, in that moment, what I felt and will remember for a lifetime.
Now you have some obscure, half-version of my memory, but I know, no matter my story telling abilities, or even if I had a picture that said 1000 words, you will never know the love that I have sealed in that one moment. It is a selfish moment and I am glad we don’t have a picture to distort it. The memory is all mine, never skewed, never re-remembered. (except maybe now…as I re-read this passage.)
I would never, not even for a second, take back the stunning pictures that were captured on my wedding day. They were worth every penny and tell a story that I could never fully recall. I will cherish them always and I will share them with generations to come…But I will also hold dear the few precious moments that I was not in front of the lens. Those moments that are so selfishly mine — Beautiful and irreplaceable.
If this post brings any conclusion: Put your cameras down, if only for a moment, and go make a few memories that can never be distorted.