How to shoot happy people

It’s bad titling, I know. But I shoot people for a living. And they seem to like it. Funny thing, I’ve never asked myself why I do it for 10 years now. 10 years of my life I’ve shot people without a purpose. At least without a declared and self-aknowledged goal.

This year, about two months ago, I was preparing my speech in front of my fellow wedding photographers. When I was blessed to realize why I do what I do.

Maslow pyramid and wedding photographer

You may wonder who is Maslow and what the hell have to do a pyramid with wedding photography. Well, at least for me, it makes a lot of sense and I will try to explain it to you.

outdoor unprompted moment

Starting from the bottom, the pyramid lists the following: physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. These are pretty much self explanatory. For an in-depth analysis, please read the following material, it goes well beyond my purpose here.

One of the slides of my presentation was dealing with an updated version of this list of human needs, including one more, right to the top of the pyramid: self-transcendence. I must confess, I didn’t give much thought of this small detail until the last night before the day I was going to talk about it. While reviewing my presentation, it struck me why I wasn’t happy with my work in the last years. I didn’t have a purpose. I wasn’t leaving anything behind me. Well, I thought I wasn’t.

But I do leave something behind.

Almost every home I was in has something made by me, saw by me, photographed by me. I was giving people wonderful memories of themselves and of their dear ones. I was (and still am) privileged to see their lives, to think of their emotions, to feel their joy or sorrow. And I captured these on paper.

I must tell you that I felt really happy right there. I understood what I was doing all that time when shooting people. I was trying to leave something behind.
before leaving to baptizing ceremony: mother looking to her dearest ones

It’s not that I think about death. It’s not that I’m the only one thinking about this. This spring I had a wonderful conversation with one dear wedding photographer in Romania. We chat about our purpose and all that came to the table was: just shoot people, take their money and do whatever you want in your life. I felt something was missing.

But I finally realized that our job isn’t just about shooting people. It’s about giving them a small piece of who we are.

I am a wedding photographer, shooting people for the thrill of it.

Have you thought about who you are?