It’s summer in the UK. And along with a mandatory storm and an excess of sticky-handed kids at every cafe, park or beach, a British summer isn’t complete without some ice, a slice of fresh lime, a trickle of tonic and a double shot of gin. In a glass, I might add. It’d be pretty sad if you just tipped all of that onto your counter.
That said, we’re about halfway through the year and I’ve already exhausted my gin cabinet. Not single-handedly, however. My wife enjoys a glass or two just as much as I do. In fact, when it comes to gin, we’re all over it like vegans on a falafel kiosk. We love the stuff. We probably couldn’t go two weeks without finishing a bottle. However, I’d like to clarify that we’re not alcoholics in any sense. At least that’s what my AA counsellor tells me.
Although the gin cabinet stock might have been depleted, I’m holding out hope that it’ll be replenished soon enough. Here’s why…
When I attend a job, I arrive well in time to shoot some reportage. This means capturing the ‘story’ of your wedding, and although I’m thinking about reportage throughout the entire day, much of the story occurs before the wedding actually begins. The excitement becomes visible when you’re having your hair tugged at and your skin powdered by the makeup pro, when you’re slipping your sweaty feet into your wedding shoes, and when the groomsmen are adjusting their clip-on bow ties. At this point, you’re probably overwhelmed by the thought of the day ahead, a little bit dizzy, even. It’s my job to capture this feeling, before the Champagne starts flowing and the excitement turns to shameless drunken contentment.
When I walk into the bride’s or groom’s suite, I don’t expect to be treated like a special guest. A simple ‘hello’ and a smile is good enough for me. After all, it’s your special day and I’m just here to do my job. But I’m thankful to say that I’ve been treated especially well by my fantastic clients, who go above and beyond to make sure I have everything I need, whether that’s pints of coffee or a meal at their wedding breakfast.
I’ve been given goody bags full of gin and Percy Pigs (because what’s a goody bag without farm animal-shaped confectionery?), and even a nice thank you message after the wedding. I don’t even get this kind of consideration from my local gin bar. And believe me, I basically fund that place. I should be treated like a king.
What I’m saying is, it’s in no way essential for clients to treat me to such nice things. But it is always much appreciated. I know how stressful a wedding day can be. There is much to think about and, if Murphy’s law is true, then anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. In fact, I’ve been to a wedding where a page boy knocked the bride into the cake, which then collapsed onto a younger page boy, the floor, AND the bride’s dress (some people might have laughed in that situation - the bride decided to go home). With all that going on, it humbles me to know that clients still allocate a portion of their brain space to their photographer. They say kindness doesn’t take much, but after you’ve been robbed during an engagement shoot, you’ll know that it doesn’t come to some people as naturally as it does to others.
I wholeheartedly look forward to my future interactions with all my brides and grooms this year, almost as much as I’m looking forward to enjoying a sweet, cool Old Tom Gin that a mother-of-the-bride gifted me last week after telling me I did a great job and patting me on the head. A little patronising, but hey, it was expensive gin. I can keep my ego in check for an elegant bottle and the crisp taste of juniper.
Sadly, I’m not going to start accepting payment in gin. But I have thought about it. If not for me, then for my wife, who’s opened the gin cabinet three times already today to see if a bottle might have magically appeared. Instead, I want to give a shout out to all the brides and grooms who look after me on their wedding days - you rock. Let’s keep making beautiful photos together!