25 years / by Carey

Almost exactly one year ago, my inlaws celebrated 25 years of marriage. Circumstances were such that they didn't have a formal wedding, much less like what weddings have become today! They did have a small reception and had a cake. To my knowledge, she has just one snapshot from that event in which they are cutting the cake. So, when 25 years came around, they decided to do a vow renewal ceremony and make it like the wedding she would have liked to have all those years ago.

To be honest, the frugal-practical side of me thought this was a little silly (to make it just like a wedding). Having gone through, and spent the funds on, a 'real' wedding (that was NOTHING in comparison to wedding budgets these days, just a few years later!)... well, we now advise anyone who asks our opinion to skip the whole formal ceremony and reception thing and spend that money on the honeymoon! It's so crazy and hectic and expensive -- and you don't even REMEMBER it!!! I am NOT uber sentimental. So I guess that is partly why I feel that way. All that to say, I had to tell myself that if I hadn't ever had a wedding, I'd probably feel the way same and want to do the same things.

And of course, she asked if I would take the photos. I really didn't want to! First, this wasn't something I'd ever done before, nor was I really that interested in. I knew the location and I knew the light would be horrible -- everything I know is natural light. I don't even own a flash. I knew I didn't have the proper equipment to do this job. Second, I had a 13 month old and a 2.5 year old to take care of while being there, and all my normal 'childcare' is family that was heavily involved in the event. Third, I was family for this event. So being in charge of the photos meant I didn't get to really attend it. But, as much as I promote boundaries in your life, I didn't really feel like I could say no. I made it very clear that I could guarantee NOTHING as far as results.

When it was all over? As I expected, I was tremendously disappointed in the images. The lighting situation was just as I anticipated. With my prime lens, there was limited zooming to what I could do with my feet. I just plain did a poor job. I wasn't surprised, but I was still very upset. And when I feel like the images I took stink... well, I have a REALLY hard time working up the motivation to edit those....

I ran a quick batch edit on all the images and gave them to her. I asked that she let me know which ones she liked and I would custom edit those. (I have found adults to be WAY way WAY more picky about themselves than about kids, and I do not have time to waste editing images that the adult doesn't even like!). She never did anything with them. And I put it behind me.... until....

Shawn asked me if we could make an album to give them for their anniversary this year to commemorate the event. At first I'm sure I gave my "are you SERIOUS?" question. Boy, that would be a ton of work... and the images are horrible... and it's just gonna be yucky.... and waa waa WAAA!

But after some thought, I realized that my standards of photography have been a little warped. Although these would most certainly win NO prizes and would be scoffed at by most pros, they would be priceless to my mother in law. So, I was off.

Turns out, I am SO glad I did! First, this was a very neat thing for me to see, professionally, for lack of a better word. I've grown! I did these 1 year ago, and I could see so very clearly as I worked through those images all my mistakes and how I would have done it differently today. That was just way cool. It was a big boost to see that I AM making progress -- it just isn't something you can see from day to day, just as I don't feel my kids growing, but oh they ARE!

Second, it was way cool to see it all as a finished work. The images by themselves are really nothing spectacular. But when put all together like this in an album to tell the story... I LOVE it. I really do. It was beyond cool to feel this album in my hands and see my work. Imperfect, but mine. And to say she was happy (and surprised!) with it, is an understatement.

So here's my little project that I can finally share about. I went back and forth on sharing it all here, because that's a lot of images to load. So sorry... I omitted the one really cool collage spread that included images of all the individual reception attendees... since I don't have their permission to post them on the web. But other than that, here's the book in its imperfect entirety.