Opening the Heart Every Day Anew

If we act without a connection to the heart, even the greatest things in our life can become dried up, meaningless or barren
— Jack Kornfield

Like in any other job - over time, we wear ourselves out, and find that we are drowning in our routines. All the couples begin to look the same, the only difference being their names. We’ve heard the same stories and the same jokes countless times. We lose our patience, and the heart begins to close. We don’t get excited anymore, we’ve stopped laughing. We enter auto pilot mode, and the job becomes just that, “a job”. We do the absolute minimum that is required of us to produce a good enough product. We’ve forgotten how grateful we were when we first started out, that we were being paid to do what we love the most – photograph.

Thanks to my yoga lessons, I’ve discovered the world of meditation and mindfulness that have always intrigued me. I read many books on the subject and began meditating every day. All this didn’t happen overnight, but things started to directly improve over time, both in my work routine of photographing weddings and in my personal life. Reality remained the same. The only thing that changed was my attitude toward it, and with it came balance and renewed energy.

Working with people is the main reason I choose, every single day, to continue photographing weddings. I encounter so many people, and have the potential of giving them a piece of myself. From the smallest of gestures, like smiling to everyone, patiently listening and creating a comfortable ambience, it continues with trying to find ways to make things easier for the vendors working around me, and finally, ends with me giving my entire self for one whole day – so that I can create a product of the highest quality, a memory the couple will cherish forever.

Most of our happiness doesn’t stem from the success of our photography brand as a business. Its source isn’t the number of likes on a Facebook page, and not even entering a list of the world’s top 50 wedding photographers (this hasn’t happened to me yet). Happiness comes from all the little moments in which you open your heart to the people around you; whether to the couple, the family, and guests, or other photographers at the event, makeup artists, DJs, designers, event managers, waiters and more. 

Several tips that help me keep my heart open throughout a long wedding day shoot:

  • Meditation before leaving the house: The bride and groom request that you dedicate your undivided attention when shooting their wedding. They really don’t want you to be dealing with negativity and be in a bad mood because of unnecessary frustrations in your private life, especially not on their special day. The purpose of meditation is to bring back your awareness to this moment, here and now. It helps us notice the thoughts running through our heads, teaches us to release the regrets of the past and worries about the future.
    With a relaxed and peaceful mind, we make all those around us more comfortable, and are open to giving a 100 percent of ourselves. So - check your cameras, pack your bag (batteries and memory card – check?), and when you’re ready, only then, just before stepping out the door, sit down for 5 to 15 minutes of meditation (even 60 seconds to begin with are better than nothing). When you’re done, dedicate several seconds to be thankful for all the good things in your life, and instill the will to do the best you can for yourself and for others throughout the upcoming work day. Click here to watch a cute and instructive video clip on how to meditate.

  • See everyone as equals: Many unexpected factors can harm the quality of our pictures and the final product on a wedding day. Usually, the reason is a person who has done something against our interests, and has hurt the ideal we aspire to. Immediately, anger toward him or her courses through our veins, and a battlefront forms with the will to get what is ours back. In most cases, this ends with a winning side, a losing side, and hours (or even days) of frustration and a need to justify your own actions. It doesn’t have to end this way every time. We can also feel like winners, even though we didn’t get what we deserved.
    All you need is to learn how to act and not respond. Responding is allowing our emotions to control us, even if the actions make no sense at all. Acting means to stop, be aware of our feelings, emotions and thoughts surfacing in our body and mind during that moment. Afterwards, try thinking sensibly and reach a reasonable solution in which both sides end up winning. No anger, no judgement. Sometimes, the solution may be really easy to carry out, and sometimes, it will require a lot of effort from us; sometimes, the best solution will be to just release the ideal we were hanging onto so dearly, and do nothing. 
    Don’t forget that the person in front of us is an entire world in itself. Just like us. He (or she) also has desires, aspirations, worries and fears. Search for the beauty within him. Maybe you’ll discover that you have many common interests and you’ll become best friends. Disagreements with other people are always an excellent chance to learn something about ourselves, notice what can be improved and observe if we are realising the full potential of love and giving.

  • Give without expecting a thing in return: Giving from the heart is giving with no hidden interests, in which the act of giving itself is what makes you feel good, not the feedback you expect to receive from the other end. In many cases, the other side will not stop thanking you, praising you and telling you how much it appreciates all your hard work. In other cases, either the other side will be too shy to thank you, or it will be busy with a thousand other things preventing it from paying any attention to you. You have no control over other people. 
    Let go of the need to be appreciated or receive a reward for your efforts from people. Know that you did your best and appreciate yourself.

    To open the heart, a lot of daily effort and maintenance is required. We must work hard to be whole with ourselves, and at the same time, be empty of all judgement toward ourselves and toward others.
    But as long as you keep it up, you’ll discover happiness and success that only a path with heart can create.
    You can bring back the curiosity, innocence and enthusiasm you once had at the beginning of your professional journey. You can abolish the burnout you’ve developed, and form in its place a fresh perspective and renewed energy.

    Not long ago, I was asked to accompany the parents of the bride and groom to photograph formal pictures of them with the guests during the event. No capturing special moments, no enthusiasm, hugs and loving glances. True, it was a duty completely lacking in artistic challenge and could easily be thought of as tedious, boring and even irritating. I could have felt bummed out from every moment, only thinking of when I’ll be home again in my warm bed. Instead, I let go of my ideals and my “docu photographer” image. I filled this void instead with love and a dedication to give the best and most pleasant service. When the night ended, one of the mothers came over and thanked me from the bottom of her heart for being lovely and for never ceasing to smile. That same smile only grew even larger (to its maximum width), and didn’t leave my face until the moment my head hit the pillow and I fell asleep.

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love
— Mother Teresa