Are you the photographer?
Uh, I'm the sister-in-law, I said. I just thought I'd take a few pictures, you know, as a gift.
We'll work together, the hired photographer said. I'm not actually a professional, she said, like she'd just been discovered running around in her mother's high heels.
It was just a small idea I had when we went to my brother-in-law's wedding. I'll pack the cameras. Take a few shots, and maybe some will turn out and I can give them as a gift. I have a Canon Rebel, after all, (that mostly my husband uses) and a 50mm lens.
In my world, this doesn't count as overly serious photography equipment. When you're friends with mind-blowing photographers with lenses as long as your forearm and badass lighting equipment, well, they feel like pretty basic tools for an internet artist to have.
Why did I say I wasn't a professional? I wondered later. For god's sake, I've had business cards that said "Writer and Photographer".
But I'm no Wedding Photographer. Digital isn't even really My Thing.
Wow! someone said. That's like, a PROFESSIONAL camera. I looked around and realized that I had in my possession the only DSLR in town. Including the hired, self-described "non-professional" wedding photographer.
I did a lot of thinking in that southern town about comparison and the way it creeps in when we're not looking. I have colleagues who are so incredibly accomplished that everything I do can feel dwarfed in comparison, and I DO compare, automatically and almost always without even realizing it. They take my accomplishments more seriously than I do, which is a gift. Their work inspires the hell out of me; it expands my sense of possibility and makes my big dreams feel like things that happen to people I know, and might actually happen for me.
But sometimes I can feel it skewing my sense of proportion about my own growth, my progress, and my ability. It's so much more difficult to see ourselves--who we are, and how far we've come. Nearly impossible to recognize our own potential and all that's within us, waiting to be born.
Sunday night I put together the loveliest little wedding album you can imagine with so much love I thought I was going to burst. I hope they like it, I hope they like it, I kept saying over and over like they were the only words I knew. I looked at the pictures again and again, until I no longer saw just the beauty of the day or the sweetness of being together with our dear ones.
I looked at them until I could see myself.