When people ask me, “What do you do?”, I always respond, “I’m a wedding photographer”.
The next response I usually get is, “No, but what do you do?”.
I always take that as an insult and respond, “Yeah, I’m a full time wedding photographer.”
After that, the typical response is, “Oh wow! So, you must make a lot of money, huh?”.
It annoys me cause I’m not a wedding photographer just because I want to make lots of money at the expense of couples getting married. I love what I do because it gives my life purpose in many different ways. Besides… because I invest myself emotionally into it, I can tell you that I don’t make lots of money. Straight up. I barely get get by.
Since my girlfriend, Amanda, is only doing a work study, our household money has been pretty tight lately. I did a lot of thinking a few weeks ago. I decided to go against what all I believe in as an artist/photographer/whatever the hell I am. I applied to a national wedding photography company. Basically, they have super cheap prices for couples wanting a wedding photographer but want what I call, “vanilla” pictures. They contract photographers and the style of photography they deliver is need I say… basic and cheesy. You know… typical wedding photography. However, I found out that I qualified as a “lead photographer” for them and that the pay was in the same range as what I get paid to second shoot. So, I figured it couldn’t hurt. The next part of the application process was submitting portfolio images.
This is where shit got real.
They gave me a week to round up 100 un-edited images. They wanted to see my style and quality. However, I didn’t want to submit anything that was my style. My style is me and who I am. I didn’t want to submit recognizable Anthony Gauna work. Besides, I break rules. I don’t give a fuck. My “style” is fueled purely by the people I’m photographing… the people I’ve emotionally invested myself in… The people who like me for who I am and the way I see life. With the clients they work with… I’d just be a photographer that they meet day of the wedding.
The photos that I felt I needed to submit were the safe shots. They typical wedding photos. Meaningless ones. Sifting through my work was a struggle, like I said. I refused to give up the work I’m proud of. I had to dig deep to the stuff I was disconnected from. A lot of it was really old work. I mean… old. Before I found my “style” old. Back when I didn’t know a lot about photography. Back when I was still doing photography on the side… Old.
I had told Amanda I was going to apply to this company so that our money situation would be a little bit better. I would have my own business still, but would work for that company on the side when I had extra free time. And if my own business was booming to an uncontrollable brink, I could just stop working for the other company. It made sense.
However, as I was choosing the images to submit to them for final review of my application, I felt I was just sabotaging myself. Needless to say, I gathered some shitty images and to my surprise, they said, we’d love to have you. I started the next part of the process with filling out more info, but for the past two weeks, I haven’t had any response back from them. I was supposed to fill out my availability and do a few more things, but I haven’t received any response back by email or phone. When I call, the phone disconnects when they say they’re gonna transfer me. Maybe they had a second thought or second look through my images.
Now, part of me is thinking, “Fuck yes! It’s a sign! I’m not supposed to work for them!”. Then the other part of me is thinking, “Well… Fuck. Now what?”. I mean, should I be worried? Cause I don’t think so.
Eh, fuck ‘em.
But that’s the thing. I have a family. I can’t always have this artist mentality. I really don’t give a fuck about the money. I mean, obviously I do to some extent because we all need money to survive, but it’s not my first priority. My first priority is living a fulfilled life.
I enjoy doing what I do. I mean it. I love being a wedding photographer. But I don’t really think of myself as one. I just enjoy photographing people who mean something to me and who are like minded like myself. I know that I’m pretty crazy. I refuse to book any couples who I don’t connect with. I also refuse to book couples who are getting married in a church. Well… most couples. Why? Because I don’t usually connect with those type of couples. And the reason people think I’m crazy is because I live in a primarily Catholic city. The thing is though, if I don’t connect with someone, it’s just a job to me. And if I’m doing a job… I do it terribly because I don’t like having a job. Having a job is giving up on life to me. Giving into “the man”. Giving into the corporate world again. I enjoy feeling fulfilled. And I feel fulfilled by doing things on my terms.
Now, see… This is what I’m saying… Am I an asshole? By me doing these things… refusing to work with people I don’t want to work with… Does that make me an asshole? Not to the people I refer out, but to my family? Seriously… I know I’m crazy for turning down all these Catholic weddings. Those Catholic weddings could be money in the bank for my family and I. But the artist in me says don’t do it. It says to keep pushing on no matter what.
Cause money issues aside, I love what I do. I’m loving it more and more every single day. Things get better and better. The couples who keep coming my way are hella bad ass. I connect with them all so well. And I’m so incredibly grateful for all of them. They believe in me. They believe in my vision and work. They don’t care about me giving them the safe shots. They want me for how I see life. They want me to break the rules. This makes me fulfilled like you can’t even believe. That is what gives my life purpose… Being wanted for who I am.
I’m not really sure where I was intending this on going, but I had thoughts in my head that I wanted out. I’ve been trying to be as transparent about my life as much as possible these days, so I felt the need to share these thoughts.
Maybe someone out there can relate.