The Ties That Bind Us

Last week we had some pretty rough weather in the Anderson, SC area – nothing at all like the poor residents of Oklahoma & other places that experienced those devastating tornadoes, but still kind of scary; torrential rain, lightening & thunder, strong winds, even a small tornado that took part of a roof off a house & moved it’s deck & storage building around. After the sun came back out, I found myself thinking about those people in the mid-West who’d gone through those high category tornadoes & realized I had a new empathy for them. Obviously I couldn’t fully relate with their losses since, thankfully, my family & my home were unscathed by the mini-catastrophic weather here. But I found my heart hurting in a deeper,more understanding way for those who lost family, friends or homes – I could feel what it must have been like to be frantic with worry about a son or daughter or parent that you couldn’t reach on the phone to make sure they were ok; I could imagine the fear while crouching in a closet or cellar, waiting to hear that awful train-roar descend.

This all made me think about something I’ve found fascinating about shooting weddings – as photographers, most of the time we’ve met the couple getting married once, maybe twice, yet on the most important day of their lives (to that point, anyway) here we are right in the thick of the most personal, intimate moments of the event, snapping our photos, trying to be unobtrusive yet at times out of necessity directing things, & inevitably joining in the rejoicing & celebrating. By the end of the wedding day we feel a true bond with the couple, their friends & their families & many times that feeling is plainly returned. How does this happen? How is it we can have such a limited amount of contact with people beforehand yet in a short space of time experience this feeling of closeness & kinship? I found a connection, I think, with the experience with the bad weather & its subsequent result of a deeper compassion for the victims of the true tragedies, people I’ve never met & in all probability never will…these connections are formed by the mutual happenings we confront or create that stir our strongest emotions, whether they are grief or joy, terror or serenity, despair or elation. This isn’t anything new, of course; we always hear about the kind, heroic acts of total strangers in times of crisis, or the way a town pulls together after a tragedy. It had just never occurred to me, the similarity of what we experience in our lives as photographers & these other life events. But that’s it, isn’t it? In just a few short hours, we are bound to people who were total strangers to us because we are not only there to document & witness their joy & love & avowed commitment, but we share in it. That’s our tie. That’s our bond.

Here’s to sharing the good times & the bad, the rain & the sunbeams (-: