There’s a terrible old saying heard in newsrooms all over- “if it bleeds, it leads.” It seems most every news station and headline sadly leads with tragedy. Our social media feeds are filled with thoughts, prayers, well wishes, anger, and sadness. As I recently viewed news and current events, I couldn’t help but think of photojournalists working to keep us informed. After all, it was my job for 14 years. Fortunately, I never had to cover the aftermath of a mass shooting, but I did cover plenty of senseless acts of violence. I’ve visited with grieving families, mere hours after losing a loved one. I’ve documented candlelight vigils, memorial services, and more funerals than I would like to remember. The one thing that I remember most is the feeling of hopelessness and despair in these moments. A dark cloud of grief had filled the room, and it had sucked the joy and hope from the people in it. Worst of all, the one thing that’s needed most in those tragic moments, is the one thing we rarely get a chance to document. Hope.
Right after a tragic event, we always see the same cycle of events. Preachers preach about it from the pulpit. Politicians use it as a talking point. Organizers rally and promote vigils calling for action and change. After a few days, the funerals are over. The preachers and politicians often must turn their attention to other topics. The news coverage fades away. Hope is rarely covered. The grieving is covered, the funerals are covered, but what I think we need is to hear the stories of hope in the aftermath. We never follow to see more than the agony and despair.
As a photojournalist, I shielded myself from the personal emotions. I looked for the moments to photograph without myself shedding a tear. I felt empathy, but was able to be disconnected in those moments. I had a job to do, afterall.
However when I document weddings, there’s feelings of joy, and happiness. I gladly document those moments and can even cherish them for myself as I reflect on my own precious memories. With this, soon after I became sober and then after I met my now wife, I found myself drawn more and more to documenting weddings. My job today is all about hope. It’s about the love a couple shares when they look at one another. The joy of a father holding his infant child. A room filled with joy brings life and hope.
Today when I capture tears, they are tears of joy. My work days are full of excitement for the future and the endless possibilities ahead. I would never go back and change the experiences I had as a photojournalist. After all, they helped shape the human being I am today. But I would choose hope over hopelessness and love over hate any day. I’m blessed for every opportunity I have to share hope, love, and joy with the couples and families that I work with. Thank you for that opportunity!
I would love to document your story of hope. Let's connect and celebrate together.