My interest in photography was born totally and completely out of a unquenchable desire to show people their beauty. I was 20 when I was gifted my first film camera and immediately discovered its ability to capture people’s light. After all… that is all photography is, a wrangling of light. And so photographers make pictures using the glow of what ever is around them. I see the glow in people. I can’t help it; the world I live in is full of love, beauty, possibility and most importantly, happiness. And so I take pictures because I want others to see themselves and humanity in the precious lumination of pure love that my camera helps me capture.
It’s been nearly 20 years since I held my first camera. Births, deaths, and every celebration in between have supported world travel and filled my picture portfolio. I can truly say that I have been profoundly invested in every minute of this photography journey. However, I do have a favorite thing to make photos of…weddings. Weddings are emotional insanity magic. Let’s pause for real talk; weddings are silly expensive, turbo overwhelming, endlessly stressful and generally full of meaningless drama. All the while, this epic day is orchestrated in fantastically well dressed, picture perfect, slightly intoxicated, organized chaos. Ummm, hello… that’s what the best pictures are made of! And of course, who does not appreciate a good love story to top off the whole vestal hootenanny. I freaking love weddings.
Me and weddings go together. Here is why…my super power is loving on people and helping them realize that they are safe, cared for, and beautiful. It is the maternal power in me. In particular, I care about the bride. My empathy for her on her wedding day is with out measure. I feel intently protective, invested, and present to her needs and her hopes for her wedding day. I can take a great picture, but I can also care for a bride in a way that makes her shine and feel like a princess and that is the secret ingredient behind a good photo. I capture light with my camera, but first I have to help her light glow as bright as possible. Where light shines there is always beauty. Always.
At the end of a wedding season I sit down and reflect on the ride. Last year something profound truly impacted me. I had a tremendous number of brides with out mothers. That realization somehow comforted me because I am doing the work I know I was meant to do. Showing up for a bride both as her photographer, her biggest fan, and her emotional support makes me ridiculously happy.
Recently I was blessed to be able to take wedding pictures in Paris for my cousin. My Aunt passed away a few months before this collectively momentous family event. Her death was sudden and devastating. How can a bride be expected to get married without her mama. My Aunt’s presence was felt and her love covered that whole damn beautiful day. Nothing, truly nothing could even begin to replace her. When a bride’s mommy cannot be physically at the wedding, it is our job as women to step up in the name of sister-hood and care for the bride in surrogacy. I hope more than anything that I do that for my motherless brides.
When my brides smile I see light everywhere. I am grateful for the maternal flaring in me and I am grateful to have a camera to witness life, light and above all else, love.
My cousins wedding was AMAZING. A celebration of the highest order. Namaste.
COMPANY: Autumn Lee Studios