Friday, March 2, 2018

tales from a cocktail party

The dialogue is quite often the same. 

What's new? 

Not too much! I'm heading off to a destination wedding in 
a few days / a week / next month! 

Oh wow, and they pay for your trip? 

Yes, of course! And a fee for my services as well.

Wow, that's awesome! 

It is. It really is awesome that a vacation spot in paradise could be my office for the week. And it's always my sincere pleasure to provide some insight into how destination photography packages are priced and organized. Especially since the truth is that destination weddings are often quite a bit more affordable than in-town weddings. While the photography cost might be a bit higher, it's usually in lieu of hefty food and beverage bills that are included with the trip.

(And as most of us who have planned a wedding will know, 
food and beverage accounts for the biggest chunk of your budget!) 

I find myself answering that question so often that it has become commonplace and rolls off my tongue without me even thinking about. But a few weeks ago, the dialogue was somehow different. At a lovely little cocktail party, with a glass of champagne in hand, I almost snapped. 

Instead of the conversation playing out as above, this particular woman, of a similar age and pleasant demeanour, said, "isn't it CRAZY the things people will spend thousands of dollars on for their weddings? Could you even imagine being so frivolous?!"

It stopped me dead in my tracks. 

That's my livelihood. That's the entire basis of my business. How could someone be so completely unaware of the words that came out of their mouth...

When I didn't answer right away, she filled the awkward silence with another insightful gem: "I mean, they could just use that money for their honeymoon!"

As a mother of two children under 4, I'm familiar with the feeling of not knowing where to even start with the explanation a foreign concept. But this was an intelligent, well-spoken, professional woman. How could I even begin to address the notion that the clients who procure my services were not frivolous, rich, luxury-obsessed snobs, and in fact they were kind and generous, down to earth people who make many other sacrifices to be able to invest in photography as part of their wedding day?

The truth was that her bewilderment into my entire business model caught me so off guard that I felt my blood start to boil. The way she questioned the mental state of someone who spent upwards of $6,000 on a destination wedding photographer was personally offensive to me, even though I knew that her bold claims were based on absolutely nothing at all. 

Her knowledge on the subject probably stems from the fact that they paid a mediocre photographer a mediocre amount of money and received mediocre photos from their wedding day. How should she know anything different?

I tried to detour away from this topic, but she immediately asked me what else I did during my Winters, since I wasn't shooting weddings. No problem! Another question I answer quite often: 

Oh, you know, with my Summers being so busy, the Winter is really the
 time I'm able to focus on the business side of things! 

I'm tying up loose ends from the previous season, meeting with and 
booking my clientele for 2019, and getting around to writing 
helpful blog content for my brides!

99 times out of a hundred, this answer suffices. People can appreciate that there's more to being a wedding photographer than attending weddings. Of course!

But this particular individual decided to ask me if I should be considering getting into studio family sessions and cake-smashes as a way to make money during my off-season. If I was seeing red before, then this was a deep shade of crimson. 

The sarcastic, Real Housewives loving, 28 year old inside of me wanted to ask her why she wasn't applying to work at Starbucks on the weekends to supplement her income as a lawyer. 

The truth is that this job that some people view as glamorous and frivolous is actually rooted in passion, heart, and a ton of hard work. The people who get that are the ones who I am lucky enough to work with. And the people who don't are the ones that I will not so quietly excuse myself from at a cocktail party. 

I no longer see red when I think of this conversation. 

Instead I'm choosing to make a choice not to judge others or run my mouth on subjects that I know nothing about. I'll be here under a beach umbrella, sipping on champagne and knowing the full story behind what it means to be so "frivolous."  

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