I am married to a photographer. For anyone married to one who spends the greater part of their present life behind a lens you know that if you want be with this person, it means following them where ever their subject draws them.
Being the photographer’s wife means waking at 4:00 am hike to the top of a mountain or spending hours on a windy, cold beach waiting for the sun to set, then waiting for that purplish and orange color to dissipate and then waiting for the black sky to emerge, this can take anywhere from a half hour after the sun goes down to a hour and a half. It means waking up at 2:00am to shoot the Milky Way over the ocean. It means staying out into the wee hours of the night photographing sculptures in the desert and watching him play with the light to see the different shadows effects it creates. I’ve taken some pretty strenuous hikes up mountains in Yosemite to wait for his sunset shot, then hiked back down in the dark. My toes have been frozen while walking along the Owens River up near Bishop, CA. My fingers have looked blue when we hiked up the Torres Del Paine in Chile and I’ve driven for hours on dirt roads listening for the queue to pull over so he could take a shot that caught his eye.
I have had a lot of downtime while my husband takes photos, I’ve read books, played Words with Friends, slept in the car and had some long conversations with myself. I’ve learned to pack accordingly, in layers, if we are going for a sunset on the beach to bring a blanket, dinner, a thermos and a bottle of something to keep me warm. When we first started dating and we would be tent camping, I’d get up early with him, head out without coffee before the sun came up to find THE spot that we scoped out the night before. Now when we camp, I usually stay in our warm bed and wait for him to come back in the eight o’clock hour. The 1st time I stayed back in the tent he returned with a story of how a bear took off with his bag. I thought he was joking since that was the 1st time I didn’t wake up to go with. He wasn’t. Damn-it!!! How could I miss that?
I’ve learned over the years that you only have one chance at the sunrise for that day and that each day will be different, the same with the sunset. The sky is ever changing and the more time I spend watching him take photos, the more I understand what he’s seeing and what he hopes to capture. Each time that sun sets, I hold my breath just for a moment. I try to be next to my husband at that time, sometimes it happens, sometimes it snuck up on me and he’s 1/2 a mile away.
I’ve had many adventures in the past 8 years with my husband, and they continue daily. Sometimes I just want to hike though and secretly hope that he won’t take his camera, but only because I like to get my heart racing as we speed up a hill and it makes it challenging to do so when he stops every 50 ft to take another shot. It’s a balance and he knows it, so he makes a conscious effort to accommodate both of us. I need my cardio, he needs to capture his experience and document it. I never regret the end result though sometimes I complain. The reality is that I see so much more of this beautiful world because of him.
Want to know how you spot another photographer’s partner? They’re contemplating for extended amounts of time, or staring out at the view. I know this person because they are sitting with an umbrella in the rain, this is person is thinking “hurry-up, I’m cold” or “Geeze, how many of the same shots can one person take?” or “it sure is beautiful out here and I don’t want to leave”. There’s much to think about and lots of time to do it in. It takes patience, but it also forces you to slow down, look at the view, and soak up every inch of your surroundings. While the surroundings are being captured on film, they also become embedded in my memory.
So when you see a group full of photographers with their tri-pods erect, leaning over at the waist, looking at their view finders, look around for the partner off to the side, they are silently capturing their own story and enjoying every moment of it.