June 18, 2012

Doubt & the Silver Frame

A couple weeks ago as we were driving home late at night from a wedding, I felt myself sinking into the depths of a rare moment of doubt.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I have doubts all the time. Doubts about if we’re good enough. Doubts about where we’re going. Doubts about if we’re getting there fast enough or if we’ll ever get there at all. Doubts about my seriously suspect cleaning abilities. (Note to self: the magic eraser is not in fact meant to go on EVERYTHING).

Me and doubt…we go way back. Kind of like that girl in seventh grade who invited me to her slumber party only because she wanted to put peanut butter in my hair. Yea, doubt is kind of like that seventh grade mean girl…she has a tendency to stick with you.

But that’s never really been the case when it comes to what it is that we do.

Wedding photography. The photography of weddings. Photography for people who believe in love. There has never been a moment of doubt in my mind that what we do matters. It’s a constant. A given. A universal truth. Like “you will never find the perfect outfit when you’re actually out shopping for one.” Some things you just know, free from doubt.

That is, until the other night a couple weeks ago.

When in one exhausted moment, for just a glimmer of a second I caught a glimpse. It washed over me in a wave, and all at once sucked the air out of my lungs with hurricane gale force and then landed with a thud in the pit of my empty stomach. It was like getting the wind knocked out of you….with a soccer cleat.

You know, what if all we do is really just to create another pretty thing on the wedding day? Something that’s enjoyed for a while, but then tucked away and forgotten about alongside the dress and the veil as life moves forward.

It suspended me. Hung me there for a second. Reeling. As the world spiraled beneath me.

And then I caught hold of an image that in an instant just as quickly…redeemed me. I clung to it. Held onto with everything I had.

It was an image of a wedding picture in a silver frame. And it sat on my grandparents’ mantle for sixty-two and a half years. It’s the two of them on their wedding day, staring out as they started a life together. A life that would span over the next six decades, through children, grand-children and great-grandchildren. Through World Wars and recessions, sickness and health. And as life moved on and children grew and her raven hair turned gray, it stood there as the one constant. The reminder of what it felt like to hold hands and look out in the same direction. Together. To be those young people again. And then to look back and know that this life and this love was always worth the risk.

And then I thought of all the wedding images in all the silver frames that might be out there in the world somewhere right now because of us. Because of all of us. And this crazy thing that we do. And how that sixty-two and a half years from now, it might be one of our images that grand-children and great-grandchildren are still holding on to. And in that moment, somewhere in the darkness along the corridor of I-95, my faith was restored.

And I was reminded to do everything I can to shoot every image, as if it might one day end up in someone’s silver frame.

  1. Emilia Jane

    I love this. And YOU ARE GORGEOUS!!!

  2. grandmaIna

    You are absolutely right! 58 years later I still look at my wedding album once in a while and remember! Wedding photos are important.

  3. rich

    there are times that we feel the exact same way. wedding days are so much bigger than the one day that the photos are taken on. and it’s amazing that as wedding photographers, we are able to create work that will capture the emotions and moments from an amazing day for generations to cherish. sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in feeling like it’s all material, but it’s that much more important to focus on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. =) thank you for sharing!

  4. Lauren Wakefield

    First off…awesome dress! And I love this post. It’s so easy to doubt what we do but we always have to remember how meaningful it is…and always will be.

  5. Kelli Boling

    I needed to hear this today! So true!!

  6. Katie B

    Your images are in lots of our frames all over! We will always remember how beautiful everything from our wedding is forever depicted in your shots!! <3 Katie and Joseph

  7. Tina Nandi

    Aw, love this post and just what I needed to hear. It’s hard to do something without a purpose and so thank you for the reminder that there IS purpose in what we do!

  8. Stephanie Stewart

    Yes, what you do MATTERS, what we do matters so much! I’m absolutely sure all of your couples has 1 or 50 of your gorgeous images in frames! And you look beautiful by the way! Love that dress!

  9. athena


  10. Noa

    Thank you. Seriously, thank you for being honest. Reading your blog is always refreshing because of your honesty. My last blog post is named "rejection and courage" — I try to keep it real as well. Reading posts such as this one makes me feel less alone in this online world where people so easily sugar coat everything in their businesses and lives. Don’t get me wrong – there are boundaries I also keep between my blog and my real life…. But I don’t try to represent a perfect life. Thank you for doing the same. I love it. And BTW woman, you are looking smokin’!!!

  11. ashley barnett

    One of our wedding images is sitting proudly in a silver frame in our room right now :) What you do most certainly DOES matter. And you look stunning in that photo <3

  12. Jil

    raising my hand, which represents at least a handful of those frames!! LOVE YOU GUYS

  13. Jenn Valluzzo

    Amen. I don’t shoot weddings, but what you write is complete truth – as I read it I glanced over at an image of my husband’s grandparents on their wedding day, she in a gorgeous white dress, he in his Army uniform. Sitting on our bookshelf. In a silver frame. It’s beautiful. :)

  14. Jen

    You look simply stunning! Where is that dress from?! It’s perfect for shooting!

  15. allison

    so true! And you look beautiful! love the picture

  16. Rici

    Sooo beautiful written!! and such precious thoughts! Thank you for sharing!! Saluti.

  17. Holly

    oh mary!! what a refreshing read! thank you for your HONESTY and TRANSPARENCY!! you seriously ROCK!!!

  18. Ashley Goodwin

    MARY! MARY! THANK YOU THANK YOU! I have (not even kidding) been battling this myself, almost like "what is my PUROSE?!?!". Just like I loveeeed being an Interior Designer I always in the back of my head thought I was simply providing a luxury of making things pretty…nothing more, and I want to do something that MATTERS! That has the possibility to CHANGE people!
    So I’m in the right place. Thank you. And glad I’m not the only one who had a panic attack about it. ;)


  19. Brooke

    You are such a doll. The silver frame doesn’t just hold a picture, it holds memories, and what we do is invaluable.

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