Not gonna lie, winter is tough for me. I am mentally devoid of anything new and exciting to share with y’all, because snow. So I’ll write about something that you might have already read about previously, but it is a topic I can go on about for many moons nonetheless.
I’d like to tell you about this brilliant community of photographers that I am a part of here in New England.
I moved to Connecticut in 2004 from Aruba. Packed up my shit into three massive suitcases, bought a ticket to New York City and bawled my eyes out as Aruba became smaller and smaller in my airplane window. I was scared, nervous, excited, and in love. I had no family in America, but for this dude I just uprooted my life for, and had to start from scratch in the friendship department.
I made friends, terrific friends for life. And I was welcomed into many families as an honorary guest on quite a few occasions. But none of those ever felt like they were distinctly mine to keep. I was but a vacationer indeed.
Mind you, I do have a family of my own. Parents, aunts, cousins and omas, all scattered across the globe in such a way that yearly reunions become practically inconceivable. And I do love a great part of this family, I just rarely get to see them; Sunday dinners aren’t a thing, holidays are spent apart and my kids forget the names and faces of their relatives all the time.
Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I got to know some fellow photographers, attended a couple of local meet ups and seminars and was wholeheartedly embraced into this rabble of peers on contact.
The thing about a family is, that it is this crowd of people you are more or less saddled up with regardless of whether or not you want to be. And in some strange way, you don’t totally hate that.
We are allowed the distinct pleasure of choosing our friends, but family just gets thrust onto you and you’re stuck with them, forced to either make it work or turn your back. The photography community was that for me. A diverse crew of unique characters who were only bound together by one thread, not blood, but our work. We were each other’s competition, yet beyond that, we were each other’s confidants and kindred spirits.
Introverts, loud mouths, wallflowers, crazies, kookies, the stern and quiet; a mish-mosh of personalities and convictions that shouldn’t work, but like a true family, did anyway. Holiday shindigs, family vacations, late night texting, planning endeavors together, Sunday dinner, overnight stays, kids’ birthday parties. My calendar (and heart) was full.
And it wasn’t just myself who was immersed in this crowd. My husband is liked more than I am by almost everyone (and I am totes cool with that), my kids will grow up with other photographers’ kids, and they can commiserate about having their entire life being documented to the most minute detail on the daily.
Beyond the happy though, being a member of this tribe means much, much more. We genuinely care about one another. When a person is hurting, emotionally, physically, we venture out and pick up the pieces, the slack. We bring each other food, send flowers, well wishes. We rally the troops and organize and plan stuff with the sole purpose of making someone feel loved and cared for. We spend days in the pouring rain, searching, wanting to bring one of ours back home. We go and cover our ‘co-rival’s’ wedding when they are snowed in under eleventy billion feet of that horrid white crap.
And we stay. Long after the bad, we stick around to let people know that they are not alone.
Just like any other, this family has its share of drama and in-fighting. We have our share of black sheep, and a few token weird cousins, twice removed. But when push comes to shove, we cowboy up and are there when we are needed.
Because that’s what a loving, dysfunctional family does.
Beyond just photographers, the wedding industry in New England and specifically Connecticut is a strange beast. We all get along, some more than others, but in the end, we all know that there is a long ass list of people we can call if we need to.
This clan is ever-growing, always with its arms wide open, only asking that you are real and ready to pay it forward to the next person looking for a seat at the dinner table.
Editor’s note: To read more about the CT community, Christine wrote about her experiences there last year.