There are some little crises that being a full-time wedding photographer brings on in my darker moments.
I get a little panicky that I’m not photographing refugees as often as I used to, not sharing the big personal stories that pulled me into photography in the first place. Like, is another photo of bridal flowers actually going to change the world in any way? Am I making a difference with any of this, or just having fun doing a career that I never saw coming? What are we all doooooing with this?
And all those little naggy voices are silenced when I a) pour a glass of wine and get over my dang self or b) we shoot a wedding like Molly and Ryan’s. Our last wedding of 2016 brought us out to Great Neck, New York, the kind of old money neighborhood that my west coast hillbilly self still gets slack jawed about. Vast brick homes with endless bedrooms, leafy sidewalks and broad yards. Autumn in New York isn’t just a great movie with Richard Gere (just kidding I never saw it), it’s a lifestyle that I want to be mine forever. Point being: it was a gorgeous place on a gorgeous November day that we showed up at Molly’s grandmother’s home (hi Bubbie!), ready to shoot Molly’s wedding to her dear Ryan.
Bubbie spent her career as a sex therapist (yeah like the tv shows about badass ladies from the 60s paving the way for the rest of us) and her office is overflowing with Freudian trappings and literature and enough time-capsule knickknackery to entertain you for days. We spent a solid half hour just wandering around looking at how light was hitting old art pieces and vintage furniture; it was pure heaven.
Molly and Ryan wanted a low-key, family-only wedding in the house that helped raise her, and Bubbie flung her doors open to her granddaughter. An intimate ceremony in the foyer, followed by an even tinier dinner in the dining room. Nothing ostentatious. Nothing pretentious. Just lots of tears (yay, fellow criers, I’ve found my people!) and affection and low-key photos as the day unfolded naturally. Gah, such a dream, all of it.
Less than a week after their wedding, Molly sent us an email with sad news: her sweet Bubbie had died in her sleep the day before. She maintained her therapy practice until the day she died, despite not being able to see, and her last big party was the beautiful wedding of her sweet granddaughter. Which means that some of the last photos ever taken of her, we had the honor of snapping: her sweet face as she clutched Molly’s hands in celebration, her gentle focus as she signed the marriage license, her teasing wit as she toasted the newlyweds.
The last photos of this person who had such a long and esteemed life, all wrapped into the photos of one of the biggest days of Molly and Ryan’s lives. I know that photography isn’t neurosurgery, we aren’t saving any lives, but damn if it isn’t the greatest honor I know to be welcomed into private homes like Bubbie’s and be included into families like Molly and Ryan’s.
It’s hard to pick a favorite wedding, but this one is a day I will never forget for as long as I live. Molly and Ryan, you are everything good in the world. Cheers to you, and cheers to Bubbie.
(Also— take a peek here for the dreamlike video of the day, brought to you by our very own New York videographer lovebug Cory Antiel)