I say this partly because of our dates, I left Florida on September 29th 2009 and his wife passed away (they live in Florida) in October of 2009. I lived in Virginia until May of 2010, enough time for me to have some retrospection and enough time for him to be lonely. So at the end of June, I went on a date with him and I knew without doubt that he was the man for me. After a couple of years of dating and then cohabitating we decided to get married. When you have grown children you think it will be simple, kind of like when you are teenagers, but no, it is not the thing. It is quite complicated with grown children.
In any case, we are precise people who enjoy “partying” and hanging out with our offspring. Precise, nonetheless, we know what we want. How can you be over 50 years old and NOT know what you want? Well – that is another question isn’t it?
So, back to my preciseness: I hired an expensive wedding photographer and what I wanted was not exactly wedding pictures. I explained very clearly, this is not the normal wedding, we are mostly interested in capturing pictures of our children and our families. Our kids are incredibly important to us and it is so seldom that we get them together that it is very important that we get portraits of each family and I also want to make sure to capture our entire family. “Please understand, I am not all that interested in the wedding photography of the moment, I really just want great pictures of all of my family, please.” Wedding photography of the moment is all that goo-goo nonsense of wedding rings and cakes, etc. I am a 54 year old woman and I am not even buying flowers, I am not buying flowers because I want my money for food, friends and family – not flowers. Over and over again, I emphasized, I am not the typical bride! (Duh, just look at me…) I couldn’t have been more clear if I was crystal. She kept not listening to me. The photographer just was not hearing me, but I did not realize it until my wedding day, she showed up in ripped jeans. I think she thought it was cool, but it was a disappointment to me and it showed me in a very clear way that we had not made the connection that I thought we had made.
I thought the photographer understood my message. “I am paying you a great deal of money and I want you to picture my entire family and each family unit.” I provided her with a typed list with names so that she would be able to check off each and every one. I told her earnestly “please make sure that you go around the party and snap pictures of each grouping so that I have a record of everyone who attended my wedding.”
So many issues, it is difficult to list them all, but the bottom line is that she did not hear ME. She heard wedding and bride and groom. She did not listen and she did not do what I asked her to do, rather what she wished to do for a WEDDING.
I spent ten minutes on the phone explaining to her that I wanted a group shot of our grandsons, I was letting her know how important this facet of our wedding was to me. Cousins who lived a thousand miles from each other were having a reunion and I wanted it expressed in photos. These are the kind of conversations I had with the photographer over and over again. To my chagrin, she focused on her idea of ‘wedding’ and spent very little attention on my requests. The pictures of my grandsons together are very few and at best, they are clumsily done. On the other hand I have a half dozen pictures of my wedding dress hanging from a tree (???!!!).
At one point during the reception, with great effort, we finally got 8 of our kids onto the deck, she was supposed to be getting pictures, but instead stopped to talk with a guest about photography, it was completely unnerving.
I repeated before she left the reception: over and over, to make sure that she documented the guests by taking pictures of everyone. Somehow, in the aftermath of editing and preparing my discs for me, she completely forgot that part. I have pictures of the wedding cake, I have pictures of the wedding rings, but I have not one picture of my husband’s brother-in-law. So even though she had taken thousands of pictures, she deleted my panoramic view of guests. She was editing her idea of a wedding rather than responding to me, the person who had hired her.
Before she had produced anything for me, she called me and said that the final payment was missing out of her bag; she said that one of the kids must have taken it (?) Why make up something when you don’t know? In the meantime, I received the missing check in the mail, one of her neighbors had found the check in a muddy ditch next to her home and mailed it to me because my name is printed on the check and the neighbor did not recognize the photographer’s name. It bothered me deeply that she would be so frazzled as to lose the check and then to accuse “one of the kids”?!!!
So here is the thing, it’s one of those relationships that cannot get fixed, a wedding is one of those events that once they occur, they are done! I can’t recover from the wedding photographer’s mistakes in thinking. She thought she was doing a wedding, I begged her to understand that it was a family reunion and that I dearly wanted documentation of my family. She did not ‘hear’ me. What she heard was ‘wedding’, she could not hear my words over her own words that were running through her head. And that really, is the point of this story, if the universe knocks, you have to be able to ‘hear’ and that means being open to new ideas that are not your own. You must be capable of listening to someone else’s idea of reality. This does not mean they are correct, you can discard their idea of reality, but when they are paying you – well you could be losing your own career in addition to this client.
I do want to add that the photographer was not a complete disaster, she was able to capture some very important moments that needed to be documented. Her creativity with words and wedding cakes were not needed here, but those moments of love and tearful joy, those moments documented, were worth every dime and more.