Recent events have me musing on the idea of being welcomed. I can’t conceive of anyone not being warmed by the feeling; even the most introverted introverts know what I mean.
To me, welcoming feels like the harmony that comes from a group of people trusting that their story reads better with you in it (mirrored by you trusting the same of them).
Last month, a high school friend from photo class (coincidentally now also a photographer) invited me to shoot on her team for her cousin’s wedding. We met in a beautiful hotel tucked away in the verdant hills of Pennsylvania the night before the event. On the surface, it was like any other wedding I'd shot. Charge gear, check gear, study the shot list and check gear again. But from the moment Sophia answered the door, it felt different. It had been nine years since our graduation and we’d seen each other once, early on, in that time span. Sophia is grown now; a radiant, brilliant woman confident in her craft. But she is still the girl I used to trade mix CDs with, who shared my youthful obsession with horses and art and is always game for an adventure.
The wedding day was a series of warming moments:
Sophia was the only person I knew before that wedding but it quickly became obvious that I was among friends. Everyone in the wedding party acted as if they trusted my judgement, rolling with any shot ideas I had with enthusiasm and flexibility. My photos reflected the comfort their trust gave me - I felt like I could start to see the progress I’m working towards.
a few more images from that night that are less technical but more fun:
Another series of events prompted these thoughts. I have spent the better part of the past year working full time at my family’s vet clinic and building my photography business on the weekends. Making my work financially viable has proved challenging, but far less so when you have a family that has opportunities and chooses to share them with you. Just before Sophia’s cousin’s wedding, I was told the new housing I’d been counting on had fallen through (twelve days before move-in day). I felt scared and frustrated, and loathe to tell my family lest they feel like I was asking for more from them. They found out anyhow, and quickly made it very clear that I was safe and welcome with them until I sorted things out. It took them one moment of kind and concise speech (and sweeping generosity) to alleviate my fear and present me with an incredible advantage. Now, instead of having under two weeks with a full plate to find affordable housing, I was free to continue my work and begin a far more thorough, thoughtful approach to choosing a living situation. My gratitude was so big it searched for any avenue of expression - cooking, gardening, kitchen tidying; anything to bring a tiny piece of the love back around.
Because I was treated as if I belonged, as if I were welcome, I found it far easier to be my best self.
True, we can overcome being unwelcome with resilience and patience, but what a brilliant thing to be loved in the first place and be saved the trouble.
I could go on about this topic, as it is near to my heart and (I think) relevant to events currently circulating within the political sphere, but I think this is where I’ll leave it today. Thank you for reading and be well.
Special thanks to Shay for taking the time to lend his valuable editing suggestions.
Thanks to Sophia and everyone present at the Davis wedding, and my family for their incredible support and kind patience.
All photos in this post were shot for the SOBED creative (owned by Sophia Bednarik), you may enjoy their work by clicking here.