The Photo I Wish I Had

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Today was my wedding day.

It wasn’t a very big wedding. We’d actually been planning to get married in August, but after we found out I was pregnant (yay!), a very simple fact was staring us right in the face – I needed insurance. Now. Plus I’d be about 8 months pregnant in August, and call me crazy but I kind of want to be able to dance my ass off at our wedding, and 8 months pregnant does not qualify me for the kind of dancing I’ve been preparing for.

So instead, I put on a little white dress I had in the closet, Chris wore a button-down shirt and we headed over to his dad’s house for a “family BBQ”, where one of our family members, who was already ordained, married us in the backyard. The ceremony lasted maybe 6 minutes. I cried the entire time I read my vows, and then even harder when Chris read his.

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Another family member snapped some photos of the ceremony, and there was plenty of BBQ to go around. All in all, pretty much the perfect little backyard wedding.

Except for one small thing…

We were both sick.

Chris woke up with the flu, and by 10:00 that morning he was having a rough time keeping anything down. I jokingly told him he might want to try taking the ring off to see if he felt better, but he was pretty devastated at the idea that he was ruining our only wedding day. “I’m so sorry,” he kept saying. “I’ve been waiting for this day since I asked you to marry me. Just give me second, it’ll pass, I promise it’s nothing,” and then he’d make a mad dash to the bathroom. Poor guy. I’m sure on some level he was worried that I thought he might be having doubts about this whole “rest of your life with one person thing”, but of course I wasn’t. We’d been together 7 years already. We both knew we were in it for the long haul.

Our ceremony was at 2:30, and by 5:30 we were both headed home, desperately trying not to get sick in the car (him from the flu, and me from the morning sickness, which always hit me in the early evening). We got to the house and we both crawled into bed, where we stayed for the rest of the night…not exactly the romantic escapade most people envision their wedding day to be.

A few days later, our relative gave me the card full of photos from our big day. Lots of smiling, happy photos. I love them, but in all honesty, there is a different photo I wish I had.

Rewind back to our wedding night, and there we were curled up in bed together, munching on Saltine crackers and reading baby books. I flipped through one and showed him a photo of what our 6 week old baby currently looked like. “That looks like a velociraptor,” he said very matter-of-factly, and I agreed. Then he snuggled up closer, laid his head on my shoulder and said, “Read me more about our tiny dinosaur baby.”

That, right there, is the photo I wish I had. Both of us cuddled up in bed, sicker than shit, reading about the small alien growing in my belly. I so wish I had a photo of that moment.

It’s really made me think of all the other photos I wish I had in my lifetime. As photographers, we don’t usually take photos of bad or mediocre times in our lives. We take photos of happy, new experiences because we think that’s what we want to remember. Our life checkpoints. The time we went to the Grand Canyon, the time we turned 21, the time we ran a half-marathon. Don’t get me wrong, these all make for an awesome scrapbook, but if we focus only on the happy snapshots, we miss out on everything in-between. Times like when you’re just sitting on the porch hanging out with friends or when you’re curled up on the couch with the dog. Even “bad” times, like when you got completely lost on a road trip and everyone was yelling directions at each other, or when you visited a sick family member in the hospital. In these moments, the experience may not seem all that interesting, or even like one you want to remember, but trust me, it is.

Our wedding story wasn’t some huge, blown out fantasy that every couple dreams about, but it was still ours. And even though it doesn’t sound romantic, it really was. If I could go back, I might be tempted to change the fact that we were both sick, but then I’d lose the memory of us both cuddled in the bed, reading baby books and gingerly eating Saltine crackers…and I wouldn’t give that up for the world.

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I do know, that I’ll be making an effort to take better photos this year. And by “better” I mean redefine what I would normally consider to be a promising photo opportunity. Because if you knew this would be the last time you talked baseball with your Grandpa over a couple of beers…wouldn’t you want a photo of it?

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Posted on: March 31, 2015, by : jennamartinphoto@gmail.com

25 thoughts on “The Photo I Wish I Had

  1. Amazingly touching, and I do agree with you (part of the reason I am trying to snap a photo of my grandma on family meetings but is so hard, she’s a hard bone). And congrats for the wedding! Sounds so small and nice, I love it. It does sound romantic to me, if taking care of each other when sick isn’t romantic, I don’t know anything about romanticism. Congrats again for the wedding and the future lil person to come (or dinosour)

    1. So true Elena! Taking care of each when sick probably is the most romantic thing you can do, I never thought of it that way :). And yup, take as many photos of your gram-gram as possible – I told Chris he needs to learn how to use my camera just so I can be in a few photos too, lol.

      1. I try, but she really doesn’t like it (starting to think she thinks is a soul stealing thing or something) and yes he does! Specially cause I guess you want to have pictures with your babyraptor! And if not, you can always set the camera and let him press the button 😛 There’s no possible excuse for that

        1. I’m pretty sure if you explain to your grandma why you are trying to take pictures of her and what it means to you, she will understand and be very happy to give you a few memories to last on. My late grandfather didn’t want me to take pictures of him in the ICU, and at first I complied. But then I leaned over to his hear an told him why I was doing it and he got all soft and teary eyed and agreed. I’m not saying the pictures I took there are the fondest memories I’ve ever had, but they are important ones to me. There’s one special picture in there, where my grandma is holding his hand comforting him, almost knowing she’s saying good-bye, that brings me to tears every time I look at it. Yet still I’m glad I took that picture.
          At his funeral I also took my camera with me. During the rituals my mother gave me very cross looks and asked me afterwards if that was necessary and was quite mad at me. I told her it was my way of coping and mourning, then she calmed down. A year later she actually asked to see the pictures the first time, and was grateful I took them.

          So I say, take all the pictures you can, and make clear why it’s important to you.

          1. Thanks for the advice, I’ll try next time I see her and let you know if it worked. Hope so. Sorry to hear about your grandpa, but at least I am glad you took the pictures you wanted and needed

  2. Very true. I’m always taking pictures and filming when my kids are sick. There is this inner mommy fear that that might be the last time I see them. And then years later I look at the picture and laugh, remembering how scared I was to losing them from a flu.

  3. Jenna…I follow several blogs of photographers because I love learning about the creative process. Yours is my favorite. Not only for your photography, but because of your writing. You have a charming and engaging way of inviting me, the reader, into your life. Congratulations on your wedding and pregnancy. Thanks for sharing.

  4. That’s where the for better or worse lines come in. Taking care of each others, not just in good times, but, also in bad times. Congrats on your wedding and the little dinosaur.

  5. Jenna, signed up not too long ago and you are a Gift! Thank you for filling my cup with courage: onward I go with my passion for photography. Much love to you, your husband, and the blessed little dinosaur baby. Congrats! 🙂

  6. It’s the busiest time of the year with all the school stuff and still I’ve spent all night scrolling through your blog. I read it all the way to the very first posts. You are an inspiration, and an amazing woman. And congratulations for the wedding!

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