This Little Thing We Do

Dear Joy,

Your letter about friendships was beautiful. It was a good reminder that some friendships go pop! and there they are, while others grow slowly, through shared experiences and tears and lots and lots of iced coffees. Also, thanks for your honesty about the ups and downs of friendship. I firmly believe that good friends annoy the heck out of each other, are honest about it, and move right along.

I’ve got a friendship of my own that I’m working on, in a sort of unusual way. You see, I have this friend, who also happens to be my husband. His name is Marty. We are very (very) different, and as you well know, friendship with someone who is very (very) different than yourself can be… challenging. Yes, yes. Challenging. (You’re married, so you know the nuances.)

In light of these challenges that we face, as friends and as a couple working hard to stay married ‘till death do us part, we’ve learned that we have to find things, something, anything, to do together. When he’s tinkering in the garage, and I’m curled up with a book, there’s not much friendship going on. Also crucial: these “shared experiences” need to be fun. Side-by-side floor mopping only gets you so far.

Enter wedding photography.

We started this baby business of ours shortly after we got married. Marty loved the technicalities of how camera gear worked, and I loved taking beautiful pictures. Now that we have kids, it’s harder to find the time (and babysitters) for all-day wedding shoots, but it’s so very worth it. 

I’ve got hundreds of stories I could tell you about wedding photography with Marty. For example, the guy is an Eagle Scout. Do you have any idea how handy it is to have an Eagle Scout with you when you’re photographing a wedding? Anything breaks, and boom, he does this whoosh whoosh ninja thing and fixes it, with electrical tape or a screwdriver that he pulls out of nowhere. At least once during a wedding day, I’ll grab his camera, shove mine into his hands, say, “Fix this please!” and run off to catch up with the bride and groom. He’ll do whatever needs to be done and have it back to me in under a minute. I can’t tell you how much more I appreciate him when we’re working together. At home, we do diapers together. He empties the dishwasher, I take out the garbage, we both fold laundry (I hate laundry). It’s all normal, repetitious, ordinary. But on a wedding day? I’m seeing this guy with new, much more appreciative eyes.

Together, we corral guests for family pictures. He talks to the DJs and the videographers, wins over skeptical grooms, and gets the little kids to smile.  He brings me water, and sometimes wedding cake (yay!), during a lull in the dancing at receptions. He knows my dorky hand signals when I’ve got him running around with an off-camera flash during the first dance. When a well-meaning guest comes up to chat with me about my camera while I’m taking the three seconds I can spare to photograph the cake, Marty plays interference, listening to their photography stories and answering their questions. He also comes to my defense. Wedding guests who have consumed one-too-many Tequila Sunrises, surly vendors, not-so-nice officiants: we smile, shoulder to shoulder, and (respectively) shoo them away, win them over, nod and comply. We talk about the bride and groom and their families on the drive home, because we love them, and we’re so happy. Weddings are happy.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ll pass by each other at the back of the church, during the ceremony, and he’ll be mouthing the vows to me: for richer or for poorer… as long as we both shall live. I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve given him dirty looks for photo-bombing a picture I was taking (he rolls his eyes and tells me to relax). One time, I was photographing the bride and groom, and wasn’t watching where I was going. Marty and I collided, hard. I gave him a look that I hoped was WITHERING. He grinned, kissed me on the cheek, said something that made the bride and groom laugh, and kept on walking.

So we’ve found it, this little thing that we do together, that we invest time and energy into. We do fist bumps behind the scenes, or get all excited when one of us nails a shot. I bust a move during “Footloose,” and he’s like, “Yeah… no." We act dorky. It’s refreshing, because as parents, you don’t really get to act dorky. (You also don’t get to dress up. Confession: I wear heels when I shoot weddings, because I never ever get to wear them anywhere else. My feet are crying ugly tears at the end of the day, but my silly heart is happy.)

Like marriage, wedding photography is hard work, but it’s good work, and well worth the effort – dorky dance moves, withering looks, wedding cake, and all.

Love, Sherah