What I Learned from a Tragedy Education for Wedding Business Owners

For Photogs, Wedding

January 7, 2019

This blog post actually began as a simple letter to my email list subscribers as a simple “wake up call” when I was feeling emotional one day after the loss of Tori & Pete, one of my past wedding clients.

So today’s post may be a little bit more deep than you were hoping or expecting. But honestly, it’s something that has been on my mind for awhile now and something that we really do need to be reminded of at times.

I’ve literally never thought of this situation. The ideas in my head were always what their kids would think of their wedding images? What they would think themselves looking back in 50 years? I never even began to think of the unthinkable.

On December 24, 2017, exactly 6 months after their wedding date my couple, Tori & Pete, passed away in a tragic accident. I was at family dinner to celebrate the holidays when my grandma showed me a news article. It felt fake. I saw the photo of two faces I recognized so well. Two faces I spent hours interacting with, celebrating with and two faces I spent continually editing their wedding images just six months prior. I couldn’t believe that these two people I adored so much were now just gone.

Reality hit me in the face like a ton of bricks.

What happened next were lessons in both my business and life that I could have never expected. Their online wedding gallery began receiving hundreds of notifications. Family and friends from all over were downloading images they shared with them from the best day of their lives. They clung to the photos to both grieve and celebrate Tori & Pete’s amazing life they had created. Months after the accident, I was still getting weekly, sometimes daily notifications.

And guess what? Not one detail photo was downloaded. Not one dress shot, shoe shot or bouquet detail was saved.

The ones who had just lost their dear friend, family or loved one didn’t care about the perfectly styled invitation suite. Or the way the dress looked on a non-plastic hanger. They cared about their faces, and who they were as people. They cared about the moment Tori’s smile lit up as she saw her dad for the first time on her wedding day. They cared about Pete wiping a tear as he saw his bride walking towards him for the first time. They cared about them dancing ridiculously on the dance floor, or when the couple surprised their guest with extra entertainment because of their selfless nature. They care about all of the GOOD and real moments they had the chance to share with them that day.

As wedding professionals we get so caught up in what “we” want out of our clients day. We worry about getting perfectly styled shots for our Instagram and how much time we will have to perfectly style every detail. And yes while the details matter in the moment and on our blogs or whatever, they will never matter as much as people. Nothing will ever matter as much as the experience you can offer someone.

A new publication added under your belt rocks, but does it matter more than serving your clients well and truly learning who they are? Does it matter more than capturing candids when no one is looking or moments that no one was expecting? We are there to tell THEIR story, capture their day their way and celebrate with them. So let’s make sure we remember why we do what we do. Why do we show up? And what do YOU want your clients to truly gain from their photos?

XOXO, Brooke Michelle

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