Photography, nowadays, is thriving as a hobby. I look around and every other Tom and Dick seems to have a DSLR, caressing it as it’s their life’s dream to caress it. Some of those wannabes, though, turn out as good photographers. In fact, they’d become so good that people start paying for them to come take pictures at their wedding. Or pre-wedding, or pre-engagement, or maybe even the pre-proposal—preposterous though it sounds.
It’s a good thing to earn by doing what you love, yuo might think. I thought so, too, until I looked into the eyes of a professional photographer at a wedding yesterday.
We weren’t the early birds, meaning the new couple and the old photographers had already gotten through at least a hundred people posing on stage with shiny white teeth, pouting lips, flashy jewellery, and studded dresses. The bride and groom though tired, received us with happy faces, but the photographer and his accompanying videographer weren’t tired—they looked bored, instead.
Drooping eyes, stifling yawns, dawdling walks, forced patience—they symbolised everything that points to someone who’s been doing what they’ve been doing for so long that it speaks to their soul no more. Then I wondered: At what point does doing what you love become such a vexing routine that you no longer love it?
Perhaps the photographer had reached it, the tipping point. Perhaps the idea of capturing blooming faces, grooming parents, ruling aunts, and unruly children didn’t thrill his heart anymore. It looked to me like he wished to be anywhere but there. And I felt sorry for him.
He would’ve had a phase in life, young and excited to achieve what he has now. He would’ve spent eager hours in the darkroom looking for something that would light up his life. He would’ve tossed and turned in bed wondering if his applications would get through, if he’d get the job as a photo journalist or even an assistant; he would’ve thought it a great opportunity to get coffee for a popular photographer, just the idea of being in close proximity with them keeping him up till the crack of dawn. He would’ve dreamt awake, slept in dreams, and waited with bated breath. He would’ve once given anything to have what he has now.
Except now, years later maybe, he has not a sliver of joy in his eyes. Perhaps he didn’t sleep the previous night, perhaps he spent it in the darkroom in his studio developing photos from the previous wedding, perhaps he was trying to figure out how to make space in his calendar for all the people booking his service. Perhaps the blooming faces and ruling aunts got on his nerves now. Just perhaps he would now give anything to give up all of it.
That’s what his eyes told me during the couple of minutes we were on stage, holding our not-so-natural smiles for the photographer to capture the moment and the videographer the moments. By the time we left the stage, the photographer turned his attention to the next group, our faces, our smiles, and our moments once a source of pride, now just a fleeting flash in his memory, from an event he cared naught for.