I Just Made Three Grown Women Cry

I Just Made Three Grown Women Cry

I handed it over and Jennifer just looked at me stunned. Her lower lip trembled and then, overwhelmed with emotion, her eyes welled up before tears rolled down her cheeks and she began to cry. Smiling, she turned to Emma who was sat on her left. She grabbed her hand reassuringly and then also started crying before giving Jennifer a hug. Across the table, next to me, was sitting Lilly - with both Jennifer and Emma now in tears she also welled up and then began to cry too.

The wedding day had gone really well - we'd been on site since 7 am and shot the preparation of both the bride and groom before guests had started arriving around lunchtime. We captured the excited pre-ceremony hubbub and then some groom and best man shots, Red Bull in hand!

The excitement was also building for the bride and we recorded the busyness of her preparations – hair, make-up, dress, shoes. Then, it was full-on for the ceremony - guests, a nervous groom, the arrival of the bride. The day sped-up, with formal group shots, set bride and groom shots, the reception, the party, the first dance. It was a whirlwind and, before we realized, it was over. Exhausted, we left for a well deserved night's rest.

With nearly 2000 photos in the bag, and after a long session culling, an online album of around 800 photos was ready for the couple. The bride was happy (and consequently the groom was happy that the bride was happy!) and so now all we had to do was put the album together. We designed the initial layout for the album, which included around 100 photos. A month later I was asked to scratch that design, was given a list of 250 photos and asked to start again. That design was accepted with a few minor changes and signed off for printing.

I've always thought that the client-photographer relationship is two-way. Yes, they are hiring you for a particular job but it is very much a partnership - you are working with them, and they are working with you. You are both trying to achieve the desired end and you are picking the client as much as they are picking you. With wedding photography, this is a very personal commission and, often, a significant expense. As a result, I aim not only to have an honest relationship and produce a high-quality product, but also try to over-deliver - not too much, but enough to bring a smile to the face. That's because we all like to feel we've received more than we've paid for and it engenders so much more than goodwill.

The couple's photo package included an A4 lustre, fold-flat, 26-page photo book – custom boxed with hand applied motifs themed with the wedding decorations Additionally, I had produced two books rather than one, and threw in a sparkly USB stick beautifully packaged and packed with photos. I wanted to make the bride feel special by giving it to her at the post-wedding meeting. And boy, did she feel special, and happy, and grateful. In fact, so overwhelmed that she started crying! Which then started her Matron of Honor crying and then my second shooter. I can honestly say I didn't know what to do, sat in a coffee shop with three grown women happily sobbing.

This experience was a strong reminder of just what a visually powerful medium photography is. It has the ability generate an emotional response and then gets people to act upon that response. Think of Don McCullin's "Shell Shock," Jeff Widener's "Tank Man," or Wildlife Photographer of the Year Brent Stirton's more recent winning image of a dehorned rhino. Whilst these images immediately spring to mind, we often don't think of positive messages that images can deliver - Sal Veder's "Burst of Joy" is a great reminder. You can't help but smile when you see it.

These are emotive, but all images have the power to move people and that power is particularly potent when you have a strong connection to the image. Combine that positive emotion with a gift and the impact can be immense. "Giving" is now firmly rooted in my photography thinking and methodology.

Images used with permission of weddingclub.

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"I can honestly say I didn't know what to do, sat in a coffee shop with three grown women happily sobbing."

That's OK, that's the typical man's response. Best not to say anything and let them cry. Even when they're unhappy it seems to help.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

So this is why you're online so much. No woman or man in your life because you did the exact opposite of what you should do when humans cry.

Gabrielle try and think over very carefully the possibilities of what I said. It was actually meant as good advice to men, and with respect towards women. You see instinctively men are fixers. When we see something wrong around us we immediately try and fix whatever we think is not right, or broken. Men do that with women all the time. Of course not always in the most helpful ways.

One way they do that is by trying to get them to stop crying. After all, what decent man wants to see the woman they love being sad? The thing is, while the intention for doing so is usually good and honorable, it is often detrimental in the long run, to the extent that women are made to feel like they can not express themselves, even if it means just crying about something.

Crying serves a psychological need, as any other form of expression does. Paradoxically men will often cause the crying but then they go on to do more damage by trying to prevent it. My advice to young men, as an older man, is to work hard on preventing the former and to let go of the later when it happens. My advice to young women, such as yourself, is to not think men don't care just because they are silent at such times, or at any other time. Not a single word is ever necessary to show support and love for someone. In fact, the best expressions of love are silent.

As for why I'm "online so much," that would be due to poor health that also affects my mobility. I hope you never get to experience that. I also hope that you get to find someone that will always be there for you, as I believe I have with the angel I met almost thirty years ago.


I knew it then, for I could tell.
Twas Silent Love in which I fell.

A painful choice for Heaven's sake.
And one no man would like to make.

But I was torn in part, you see.
By beauty, charm, and destiny.

I gathered up and off I went.
As if compelled to my torment.

And greeting there, my love confessed.
I made a simple child's request.

But thinking now of her and me,
I guess it was as meant to be.

A love the angels sing in song.
It's in such love I do belong.

A timeless chord from up above.
A sanctified and Silent Love


Dariano Bisotnik's picture

Bob, my hat off to you for your brilliant and yet compassionate comeback to a possible troll (?)
How refreshing to read a non defensive/insulting/snide reply to somebody that seems to have given you one.

Paulo Macedo's picture

God bless the Angel that makes your every day better.
This was so profound, of such chivalry, that Gabrielle didn't have the common decency to reply.

Shame this music doesn't have translation, but here:

Carolina Deslandes - A Vida Toda (My whole life).

Chris Rogers's picture

I wish I had a smidge of the wisdom and class you have. This is why I really enjoy listening to my elders. They have so much to teach and so many life experiences to listen and learn from. When I listen to people like you it reminds I don't know half of what I think I know. I have so much more to learn. Thank you, kind sir.

Paulo Macedo's picture

For someone who writes articles for FStoppers you should be more careful when replying to people without knowing their background.
I've stopped sharing on this website because of this kind of agression from editors, my last water drop was on the "why there are few black photographers", like a month ago or so.
Even knowing that i was kind of upvoted on my replies here, having an ashtonishing positive to negative vote ratio.

Sorry to be so agressive, you might have commented on a bad mood, but if i'd be your boss and saw something like this, you'd be in trouble. Man or woman, a person who shares their opinion on such a large website should have a lot more Emotional IQ, a simple question like "why do you share that view?" would allow the commenteer to give us a deep and comprehensive opinion.

With all this, you just called a "no life, no girl" person to a sick gentleman, who had the decency of replying back on you with the outmost compassionate and caring comment. Where's your take on this?

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Yes, they are both photographs, but to equate "Tank Man" with some wedding photos is a bit of a stretch...

Anonymous's picture

Absolutely agree.

I don't think he is equating his work, or any wedding work, to Tank Man, or any other references he made. The author was making a point about how photography can convey powerful emotions, regardless of whether it's an iconic, timeless photo, or a picture of a cat. That is all.

Gabrielle Colton's picture