(Guest Blog post)-Shawon Davis is a wedding and women’s portrait photographer. She has been telling beautiful stories through photographs since 2011. Her studio is located in Medway, MA. You can read more stories on her blog: www.shawondavis.com/blog see her work here: www.shawondavis.com and follow her on Instagram @shawondavis and Facebook @shawondavisphotography for daily storytelling, encouragement, and a glance at some of her favorite things.
On any given weekend, a couple somewhere in the world is getting married. Chances are they’ve hired a photographer to capture the moments. They’ve hired someone to show up to take pictures of their special day.
As the couple looks back on their special day, they page through an album filled with formal family pictures, with everyone smiling at the camera. A few pictures show the bride getting out of the car before she heads into the church. There’s always a beautiful picture of the bride walking down the aisle, but she longs to see the expression on her groom’s face. Invariably, pictures of loved ones who have now passed away are among these photos, but the smiles the camera captured do not echo these loved ones’ humor or loving ways.
Although there were pictures, something was missing.
The couple wanted to see more; they wanted to feel the joy. They hoped to see more of their interactions together but also those special moments that slip by so easily. Where were those warm exchanges, the gentle hugs, bursts of laughter, the celebration?
They longed to experience the story not only of their special day, but also the story of each of the pivotal people who were part of their lives and who celebrated with them on their day.
This was my story. I felt all these things. I longed for those moments to have been captured, and to be able to pass them on. Those feelings, those stories, and the essence of my loved ones were never in the photos I have from my own wedding.
As a wedding photographer, I want my couples to have a different experience. I’ve been given the gift to not only take beautiful pictures but also to help create the ultimate gift of storytelling.
Stories allow us to pass down who we are.
Stories bring characters to life.
Stories connect us. Stories shape us. Stories hold our history. Stories help us to reflect. They bring us joy, laughter, and sometimes renewal.
I help people tell their stories in photographs through building a relationship of trust with them that allows them to be present in every way, knowing that I value their story and the people they love.
This process begins with a question I always ask: “What do you want to see in twenty years?” In other words, who’s there, what’s going on, and how do you feel?
As they share, I lean in, listen, and most often smile as they tell me their story.
These are the kinds of responses that make me smile:
“We want our photos to show who we are, what our love is all about, and how our love expresses itself on that wonderful day.” Or, they might say, “We’d want our (soon-but-not-any-time-soon!) kids, when we show them our photos, to really see us and know us on that day, to experience that day with us, and to see our love for each other and the twinkle in the eye that will be them one day.”
I might hear “We want our wedding pictures to remind us why we got married,” or “We want to feel the joy-filled moments and excitement of our wedding day.”
I’ve heard hopes and dreams such as, “We want to always be inspired to move forward through the ups and downs of marriage,” as well as ”We want to be able to look back twenty years from our wedding day to see how far we’ve come together.”
Are you smiling right now?
One of my favorites, which made me laugh out loud was, “My grandmother is going to be there, and she will be the first one out on the dance floor!”
These are the stories that I’m honored to help tell every single week. As my couples turn the pages of their wedding albums, look at framed photos on their wall, or scroll through their favorites on their phone every single day, I want them to smile, not because the photo is beautiful, but because the story behind the photo is their own unique experience.
Regardless of how you capture special events of your life, with professional help, or in your own way, keep in mind that regardless of who or what are in those pictures, when you look back, you’ll want to know the story.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.