I am my own worst critic. It’s true. I’ve been told this throughout my life, and most of the time I have to agree. Yet, this self-criticism is what makes me the artist that I am (such as I am). Yes, it often makes me hard to live with as I crab and complain and bitch and rail and wail.
All this aside, I royally screwed up during my younger son’s wedding last fall. First of all, I agreed to shoot the wedding. I also agreed to bake the two wedding cakes. I’m nothing if not a master of overreaching, over-scheduling and generally being overwhelmed.
I have shot only a couple of weddings in the past, and I didn’t like the process. Too much pressure. The stakes and expectations (for photographer and subjects) are too high. There’s no “redo” with wedding photography. Fortunately, one of the weddings I shot (of a distant family member who couldn’t afford a “real” wedding photographer) ended in divorce, so I’m sure those photographs are thankfully in a landfill somewhere.
My son and daughter-in-law had a somewhat nontraditional wedding, and their photographic needs were in line with that philosophy. Rather than hire a professional photographer, they wanted a variety of family members with a variety of photographic skills (and equipment) to randomly shoot the event. Then they planned on assembling an album with all these various photographic “voices.”
I agreed to participate, but the pressure was on. I decided to shoot large format 4x5 (color and black and white), some digital and even some point and shoot. In total, I have a handful of photos that meet my own criteria for a “keeper.” And, I think much of what I shot is superior to that of the other wedding press corps.
But I dwell on the images that reveal my failures as a photographer. I grossly underexposed what should have been a good backyard portrait of the groom. I ruined another two shots with a double exposure of the happy couple. I have said often that I am haunted by the photos I didn’t take — and I will now add that I am haunted by the photos in which I failed as a photographer.
This, I tell myself, is further proof of why I don’t — and won’t ever again — do a wedding.
Until the next time I’m asked. I’ve still got an unmarried son to go.