Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Only Human

I am feeling so very, very human right now. I am coping with a lot. Joel and I have a former student of his (who graduated three years ago) living with us for the past seven weeks. We are, in essence, the only thing between him and homelessness. We are working really hard to get him help, and I feel helpless in a lot of ways. I don't like feeling helpless. I like feeling helpful. Helplessness is the exact opposite of helplfullness, so you know, that sucks.

On a more shallow note, we are getting the exterior of our house painted. We picked out a lovely taupe-y latte color that was supposed to be "one shade lighter than brown sugar." It's pink. Pinky pink pink pink. The painter did all the scraping yesterday and did two coats on a small portion of the house. I hate it. The house painter didn't do anything wrong. The chip matches the paint perfectly. It just looks dramatically different on a big section of house. We're stopping and changing colors right now, and while Joel was on board with all the decisions, things like picking out colors for stuff is generally my job in this marriage.

This feels like my mistake, and hoo boy, we are paying for it.

But I grew up hearing my mom talk about how she hated the shade of yellow aluminum siding that my parents picked for their first home back in 1976. She knew she hated it from the very first piece that was installed but didn't say anything. That house stayed cat piss yellow until about 1999 when the current owners finally, blessedly changed it. Joel and I are already the Harry and Judy Show, but I refuse to be agonizing over my stupid pink house for the next two decades. No. Just no.

I had my biggest wedding of the year last weekend. I absolutely fell in love with the bride and groom's love story, and I can honestly say that Joel and I shot the best photos we've ever done for a client. I am so proud to show them the photos, but I lost my composure at this one. I am not proud of that.

Everything was running late. The ceremony was held a big, military academy, and while I was going through the security checkpoints a tour bus pulled onto the road in front of me. Even though I had been to the chapel for the rehearsal the day before, I knew the street address for the chapel, so I tried to get away from the bus by turning onto the street that matched the address. Except there's no access to the chapel parking lot from the street view, and it's a straight vertical climb up a rocky incline to the chapel. Abandoning the car and climbing the rocks wasn't an option. An illegal u-turn was an option, but there was an SUV with a thingy on it indicating it belonging to someone important, like, say, a four star general. I ended up holding up the ceremony even more. I felt AWFUL. I still feel awful.

The photos are great, but oh my god, I was so rattled. I snapped at Joel throughout the night. I'll just say that it wasn't completely unwarranted and leave it at that, but still. In the end, he did some truly great work, his best wedding shoot ever.

The couple wanted big group photos of the extended family during the reception, and it was incredibly stressful. Nothing that usually works: having the DJ announce that it's time for the photo, being patient, staying upbeat and positive, cajoling with humor, asking a relative to fetch their missing spouse, reaching out to a VIP in the wedding party for assistance, testing the waters to see if we should just abandon the plan, getting Joel to direct, appealing to uncooperative people with logic- none of that worked. The DJ came out to the patio and asked me to hurry because I was killing the party. Gah, no kidding. I detest taking the bride and groom away from their party. I've shot photos like this at dozens of weddings, and it's never been this intense before. In fact, usually people find it kind of fun and respond well to my particular brand of humor. Not this time. I actually got teary-eyed in the middle of all of this.

Finally, I bit a few people's heads off, and lo and behold, being mean got the job done. I never, ever want to be the mean wedding photographer, but how do I tell a father of the groom that I know his son just got home from war and his relatives flew thousands of miles to be here, but no one is cooperating so we're just canceling these group shots? I can't. No. Just no.

I WANTED to do this for them. I needed to give this military family who has sacrificed so much quality time together, so many holidays and birthdays and plain old ordinary time together, a reminder of this joyful gathering, and believe me, it was so, so joyful. Well, you know, minus the part where the bitchy photographer tortured 60 people after the cake cutting by asking them to get together in groups of 15 and smile. :::lays head on desk:::

I'm not sure anyone realizes how embarrassing it is when you're trying to do a job (for which you have been paid handsomely, I might add, so you really want to deliver) and no one will cooperate. It's humiliating, actually. So here's my little PSA for the world at large: the next time you're at your cousin's wedding and the BJ/bride/photographer asks everyone on your side of the family to gather for a quick picture, please please please just put down your drink, make sure your spouse or kids are on hand and be there for the newlyweds. Take off your sunglasses if prompted. Please don't hide behind people, especially if the photographer asks you to stop. If it becomes apparent that someone needs to kneel in the front because there are so many people there that otherwise some folks will be cut off or have distorted cone heads from a super wide angle lens, please just be That Guy who kneels or squats in the front. And please don't talk. Your mouth will mostly be caught in a funny shape in the photo, no one else can hear instructions, and chatter just makes the whole thing last infinitely longer.

No one likes this part of wedding photography, least of all the photographer, and while I hate when photographers are bitches on wheels for the whole entire wedding and think it's completely unnecessary and unprofessional and Not My Style, if the photographer gets frazzled, remember that it could just be because he or she feels helpless and embarrassed, and he or she, too, is only human. So incredibly helplessly human.

We came home to find our houseguest/tenant in emotional crisis, by the way.

So let me ask you, dear readers. If this were your wedding, and in the end you received the best photos Joel and I have ever shot, how would you feel? Also, what's the likelihood, given that libations flowed all night long, that people won't remember this part all that well after all? If you feel the need to offer critique in the comments, please be honest but gentle. I'm still feeling my humanity here, and acutely so.

UPDATE: The bride loves her sneak peek, is truly thrilled with photos, thanked us for our hard work, and linked to the sneak peek on Facebook while also tagging me. A wedding guest commented on her status, calling me a "tempermental artist" and asking if "[I] was forgiven" since the photos were "remarkable." Gah. Can anyone guess who was the topic of conversation at the morning-after brunch? Like me, maybe?

Clearly the wedding guest does not realize that I can see what she wrote even though I'm tagged and linked and mention in the blog entry that the bride and I are in contact over Facebook. This is killing me. Pardon me while I wallow in my stupid half-pink house and contemplate cutting off my ear like the tempermental artist that I am...


Michael said...

Don't beat yourself up on the paint. As you were probably taught in photo school, color is a pigment of your imagination. Go to http://www.psy.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/color12e.html or http://www.buzzhunt.co.uk/2009/06/22/green-and-blue/ for good examples.

Becky said...

Don't stress too much about it, Angie. 1) It's not worth it. 2) The pictures will speak for themselves. :)

brett said...

I'm de-lurking to tell you how much I can relate to your situation! Hate hate hate the big confrontation with wedding guests when I just want to get a quick photo and move on... You did the right thing, don't beat yourself up - much better for you to be the bad guy than for the bride or groom to get upset and then have to harass their relatives to be cooperative.

neeekeee said...

Aiee, Angie. There are so many opportunities to be amazing and succeed in the freelance world, and also lots and lots of chances to fail and learn and grow. Heather and Jen keep saying, "Learning Experience!" and it's true. This one was really hard, and it sucks big fat cookies and I'm sorry for that- we've all been there and it just sucks to let yerself down, and to let other people down, and being in situations where is incredibly hard to do your job with grace- oyeoyeoye. I know you a little, though, and I bet if you were in the same situation tomorrow, you'd now have the knowledge to change some little part of it and grow- do better- and move forward a little wiser. Take care woman.