The morning is so beautiful it hurts. My windows are open, and my heart woke up with the sun that filtered into my room without its summer blaze. The cottage roses on my desktop have begun to wilt with the world and with the poor laurel peddlem we attempted to transplant next to our mailbox. I’ll have to plant something else there, I think. But the roses. This is my favorite time for them, the reason I don’t throw them out until they are completely gone.
I have always been in love with autumn, the soft piano jazz of falling leaves and harbor bells you can hear on air that is suddenly clear – were those birdsongs there all summer?
Autumn makes me hope again. You would think it would be spring, but I think maybe the memories that go with autumn for me, the wintertime and the holidays, the cool air and the faded winter flowers – these are the things that speak to me of home, and as much as I love adventure, I am really a homebody deeply in love with the little things.
Autumn doesn’t do the new-and-amazing things, but what she does, she does well. Her glory is in her consistency – how she replays the old, familiar light that doesn’t last long enough to get bored with it. It is in the yearly ritual of reliving her memories, the way that old tree breaks your heart every year with the red falling off it and the crepe myrtle dropping off its blossoms to leave only its winter brown husks.
“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself,
than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
― Henry David Thoreau
I shot an autumn wedding on Saturday. It felt like just a job at first (we started shooting at 8am, and GOODNESS it was warm!), and then it was a gift for my dearest bride this year, and then, just as I finished the bride and groom session at the end of the day, it became something else.
A truck full of groomsmen from another wedding pulled up to the location we were leaving. The photographer jumped out of the back of the truck, lugging a huge camera, one of the superman-professional sort that used to make me green, and the whole group powered past with no time for anyone, no time for life, and certainly no time to notice the littleness of someone like me or my couple.
I took a deep breath. And we drove away from that Charleston wedding production.
That moment on Saturday taught me more about who I am as a photographer than I have learned in ten years of trying.
I had the same feeling I had attending my class’s graduation as a college drop-out. I knew I would never be what my friends would become, but I had earned the degree I’d asked of God at the beginning of my years at the school: A.U.G. Approved Unto God, a degree that came through seeking Him for my life, where others had focused on school for their life plans.
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
As we drove home, I found myself absolutely confident in what I had shot for my couple (even though it was shockingly lacking in that technical testosterone that blew past me on our way out). I had given my best. I gave my bride her wedding day, not an industry production. And I made beautiful photos for her to remember the best moments of her day, the people who surrounded her with their love, and the small things she wanted to remember. And I loved every minute of it.
Who I am, what I want – it’s not what I thought I had to want to be a photographer. I know I *am* going to do some big things with my photography. I *am* going to shoot with some incredible people and make some beauty behind my lens that I can’t even imagine just now. But I am not going to compete. I am not going to try to gain high-powered industry fame or celebrity for my business. I am going to do small things well, and shoot glory like autumn does, again and again the real and the familiar.