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On a superficial level, it made the formative years fun! Sure, it was challenging starting again in new places every few years, but it allowed me to see so many things. I also got pretty good at making friends.
On a deeper, more esoteric level, your life experiences, particularly during those early years, are going to inform everything you do, and of course, the “art” you create. Empathy is the greatest aspect of humanity to cultivate. Living abroad, in various cultures, speaking a couple of languages; these things made me understand people from all walks of life.
Many of us end up realizing we’re all the same, we are one. Traveling reveals to you the human diversity of earth, but it leaves you with a deep sense of understanding that any person you meet is simply a reflection of you. So living around the world before I even became a photographer, was the beginning of what I learned steadily working as a photographer: that the world is you and you’re just photographing aspects of yourself.
That’s going to depend entirely on you, my friend! If you’re type A – you better get planning. And you’ll probably feel a delicious sense of achievement getting all your ducks lined up in a row (amidst some moments of terror and panic that nothing will be perfect).
Leaving your wedding day to serendipity is for the cruise-y and chilled among us. This can work fine too. Just don’t ever organize a destination wedding if you’re into serendipity. That’s a recipe for disaster.
I would say most of us fall somewhere in the middle: plan the broad brush strokes of the day and then don’t sweat it when the ceremony flowers aren’t the exact shade of cream that you were imagining.
I worked for a wonderful bride last year. She was (and she admitted this herself) “type A”. Her venue collapsed – literally the second floor of this famous, lower east side synagogue started to crumble – a few weeks before her wedding date. And did I mention her fiancé broke his leg the month before? She said that she just reached a point where she understood she had to “let it go, or be dragged”. She stopped herself from scrutinizing the details. Sure, she checked that the event coordinator had things (namely, a new venue!) lined up, but then she just enjoyed her day.
The only thing I plan or expect, is that lighting could vary, so I’m always “anal” about extra lights, batteries, lenses, camera bodies. Probably one of the worst feelings is to be caught off-guard by a technical challenge. The only way around that is experience, keeping calm and bringing appropriate equipment options.
I always approach any shoot the same way: I give a little direction if necessary but otherwise I let people be. I approach every person as a unique and fascinating subject and wait to see what they do. I follow each little beautiful vignette, or story, that crosses my path. I watch people like a spy, but always make sure I have a smile on my face! I’m as vigilant and energetic as I can be.
I also always look at where the light is coming from and what the surroundings look like. If there needs to be some adjustments made – like a piece of furniture moved or a person turned to become a silhouette in a window frame, I’m not afraid to simply ask or make the changes. I worked for Mary Ellen Mark when I was younger (she’s probably one of America’s best documentarians, and sadly recently passed away) and she wasn’t afraid to ask people to move into better light, or to make things more aesthetically-pleasing or interesting around her subject.
I just shot a wedding in the West Bank. I went to a desert fortress in Rajhastan once. I spent a week on Greece’s most eastern island for a big nuptial.
There are so many! Of course every wedding has that beautiful moment where two people look at each other and declare that they will love each other forever. This never gets old, it is a universal human high point to observe. But here are a couple of extra-special memories: having a bride’s Hungarian grandmother show me her tattoo from Auschwitz, while she told me her granddaughter’s wedding was the happiest day of her life. Seeing two grooms look into each other’s eyes and say “we never thought this day would be possible”, in a room full of people laughing through their tears. Watching the mother of a bride in a wheelchair lead a room of guests in a choreographed dance to Pharrel’s “Happy”. She was in the final stages of MS and died a month later. Photographing a bride, who’s sixteen-year old brother killed himself, tuck a tiny photograph of him into her bouquet before walking down the aisle.
I’ve seen mothers dancing with their sons, dads hugging their daughters, brides walking down the aisle flanked by their parents (or holding their beloved dog!), children dancing for joy with their grandparents, divorced parents putting their differences aside for their child’s wedding day. I’ve witnessed people in the last stages of their life as they rejoice today.
So many moments have moved me and although I’m getting better at hiding the tears, I still often shed a tear at events. Working as a photographer has deepened my love of people: we are all capable of profound beauty.
To learn more about Georgi and her event and wedding photography, visit her website Maggie Marguerite. After reading her responses, you’ll no doubt want to.
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