Welcome to a new episode of the OpenFrame podcast! This conversation with the wonderful Annie Poe, a wedding photographer from the UK, is an act of courage and transparency that we need to see more often within the industry.
In today's interview, we tackle a delicate topic inside the wedding world, yet one that needs more attention. Dealing with heartbreak while also showing up to photograph someone else’s most important and romantic day of their life - is a tough challenge. It speaks volumes about our guest’s bravery and the values she stands for.
As a wedding photographer, you expose yourself to various forms of love, and if you walk through a difficult time, such as a breakup or a divorce, it can affect your mental health. It's something that many professionals out there go through but don’t talk about enough.
The wedding industry is packed into a shiny mantra - good vibes only - making it difficult for people to dare to make their voice heard. But it doesn't automatically imply that it has no affect on photographers' emotional balance and overall health; quite the contrary. Navigating events where everybody expects you to mirror people's energy and happiness can be crushing.
If you are going through a period of grief while having to document the 'happiest day' of other people's lives, we hope this honest conversation between Annie Poe and Nadia Meli will make you feel seen and less alone. In the end, life happens and it comes with an entire spectrum of emotions. As Annie wisely said, having conversations with clients about the low moments, is crucial too. Hopefully, some of the experiences and advice shared in this episode can help you face similar situations a little bit easier.
Here are some of the things Annie Poe and our host Nadia Meli discuss in this episode:
- Photographing weddings can be highly triggering when you go through any breakup or grief. Make sure you create a safe space for yourself to talk about it, and even put some projects on pause.
- Witnessing so many weddings can come with the cost of turning cynical at times. But it also reveals that some people make it work — and that's a reason to be hopeful and inspired.
- A wedding is a specific event in time and space, and even though people are having the best time of their lives, it does not mean that's always so. Remember that you are exposing yourself to a particular experience meant to be that way.
- Photography requires being physically and emotionally present. Make sure you are aligned with yourself and get the job done from a place of balance and peace.
- It's natural to compare lives when shooting a wedding and ask yourself if you’ll ever live something similar. Focusing on your life and needs gives you a reliable anchor to stay in tune with yourself.
- Annie and Nadia had different approaches while going through breakup and continuing to photograph couples and weddings. Annie did not tell her clients, while Nadia did. Different circumstances required a different approach from each of them. Choose whatever makes the most sense to YOU. There is no right or wrong way to go through this, as long as it's aligned with your values.
Advice for photographing weddings and documenting love while going through heartbreak:
- If you have the privilege to take a break from photographing weddings while going through a breakup, do it. It allows you to connect with yourself, contain your emotions, and get back in the arena.
- Take a second shooter to share the workload and emotions during the day. Also, you will have someone there to discuss with once in a while.
- Remind yourself why you got into wedding photography in the first place, what really made you fall in love with it, and whether it's still something you enjoy doing.
- Share your experience about this sensitive topic with other fellow photographers. It will normalize it and make it easier for everyone to navigate, because they will feel less alone during these hard times.
- Depending on how you foster the relationships with your clients, consider letting them know about what you are going through. You can share as much as you feel comfortable to share, but it will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders.
Have you heard other wedding photographers speak about this experience before? We hope this conversation was comforting and encourages you to share about it within the industry. We'd love to hear from you if you've been through heartbreak while on the job, how it impacted you and your creative work.
Did you enjoy this episode? If so, don't forget to subscribe to the OpenFrame Podcast via your favorite streaming platforms (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, etc) and share this with the people you love. As always, it is also available on our Youtube Channel.