My Vulnerable Asymmetry

Italy hates me, and I have the scar to prove it.

I was pretty sure if anything could beat my losing streak with Italy, a wedding would do the trick. The wedding was perfect and amazing, and the photos made me squeal with delight. But Italy, well, Italy defeated me.

I usually steer away from writing negative things because complain-y rants aren’t very becoming. But when I shared my Italy photos with an artist named James, and he paused on the photo I took of myself in the mirror, peeling away the layers from the surface, I realized how important it is for me to tell the story behind it, if for no other reason than my own ability to move on.

I had been dreaming of my friend F’s wedding in Italy for almost a year. I helped with some planning, I threw her bridal shower, I made her veil- and then I got to photograph it all, completing everything that makes me happy.

And then Italy happened. It started with my hand and arm being slammed in the hatchback door. And then the long winding two hour road trip alone from Florence to the remote Villa, where GPS took me to a field and told me I was at my destination, leaving me desperate and sobbing. From there, I had a midnight encounter with a large mouse (rat) who woke me from my sleep, performed minor surgery on my hand with tweezers and toner while crying over the sink in pain, and then woke for the 20 hour wedding day ready to conquer Italy. Only half way through the wedding, I was bitten by a spider on my neck, found mosquito bites on the soles of my feet, and the trip to town to find me a pharmacist was fruitless. Siesta. And these are just the tragedies worth noting. There’s an unabridged version to add that could take a while, but I’ll spare you.

Which brings me to the photo, and the layers James read into it.

At this point in the night, I was feeling absolutely, completely, utterly defeated. I was raw with emotions and exhaustion coupled with the joy of watching and photographing my friends get married. I had been shooting for about 19 hours. The bar opened and I finally had the glass of gin I had been craving for days. James saw the colors, the details, and then the natural asymmetry of my face. I saw a ‘Me’ I’m not used to seeing- my eyes without makeup (a necessity when shooting) and the passion and vulnerability behind them.

I tell most of my clients to expect that at some point, something won’t go to plan. Most of the time, it’s best to let those things go and move on. It took me a few weeks to realize this, but as I continue to treat the scar on my hand, I remember how applicable this is to us as wedding photographers. We strive for perfection, our self expectations are exceedingly high- but even when given the most beautiful, ideally situated wedding with people who mean the world to you, not everything should be expected to go to plan. We learn, we move on, and hopefully we have some amazing photos to show for it.