The ‘Why’ Behind Toni Jay Photography
I have always loved photographing weddings and lifestyle sessions, but I couldn’t ever really find the words that explained the reason I loved it so much. I mean, who doesn’t love a good wedding?! They are always gorgeous in their own way, the couples are happy, it’s typically an overall happy, memorable occasion. I love the moment that I become soul sisters with the Bride’s Grandma, or the Groom’s Great Aunt, or when the baby that doesn’t like anyone except Mom smiles just for me during our lifestyle session. Or my favorite moments… the quiet, raw moments captured between a bride and her mom, or Great Grandson taking a selfie with Great Grandma.
Around the end of 2015 I had placed an order for 7 photos. At some point soon I will tell the story behind these 7 photos, but they now line the length of our hallway. Shortly after receiving my order, Aaron’s paternal grandmother passed away. She may have been his grandmother by blood, but she and her husband were the first ones to adopt me into the family, long before we were even engaged. She meant a great deal to me, and her name was Grandma to me, too. During the time between her passing and the memorial service, we were sitting around the kitchen table at my in-law’s house talking through the details of the service, and Aaron’s dad said with a chuckle, “I’ve looked through so many photo albums, I feel like I’ve relived my entire childhood!” It was in that moment, those words resonated and my ‘why’ became completely clear to me.
(Thanksgiving Day, 2015, taken a couple months before she passed).
Every time I press the shutter, it’s not just for the bride and groom to have a house full of beautiful images. It’s not just for the parents to get their 8×10.
It’s for the generations that follow; the carriers of your legacy.
Could you imagine having an entire album of your Great Grandparent’s wedding day? How they looked at each other? What kind of flowers your Great Grandmother chose? Did she even have flowers? Was it a big church wedding? Did they elope?
You could live that moment as if you were there with them, and as a photographer, this has become my focus. To hone in on those moments that you won’t want to forget in years to come. If you’re a bride, it’s not just for you to have a gorgeous portrait, but to relive the moment you walked down the aisle when showing your grandkids your album in years to come. If you’re a mom, it’s not just for you to have a photo because all your friends have them done, but 30 years from now, it’s to fondly show your grandkids how their dad couldn’t live without carrying his dirty, ratty blanket around, or to look back in years from now and perfectly recall the smell of your daughter’s messy, beautiful, curly hair and the way those curls swayed in the breeze.
Yes, you want the beautiful images, and you’ll have plenty of them. But isn’t life worth more than a perfectly curated photo wall or Instagram feed? I promise you it is.
This is why I do this. It’s not just for the moments today, it’s for the moments 30 years from today. Giving these moments, frozen in time, is one of the greatest gifts you can give to the next generation, and I wouldn’t trade being a part of that for anything.