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Wedding Photography is a Joy, Not a Job

Amanda Emerson never really thought about a career as a wedding photographer until she found an old letter she wrote to her parents from Aspen Camp School for the Deaf.

Lea en Español

by Lisa A. Goldstein

Sometimes, life has a strange way of pulling us in new and unexpected directions. Amanda Emerson never really thought about a career as a wedding photographer. She found an old letter she wrote to her parents from Aspen Camp School for the Deaf in which she realized how much she loved photography. Classes were hard since they were hosted in a darkroom. Instead, she went on to get her art degree at Western State and became a director at a nonprofit. 

A few years later, Emerson – who has bilateral sensorineural hearing loss in both ears diagnosed at 13 months old – delivered her firstborn, who sadly died at birth.  

“Having only six photos of her and losing her changed my life direction,” Emerson recalls. “I wanted a career that had human services, emotional rapport, and something deep, meaningful, and spiritually fulfilling.” 

She stumbled upon wedding photography by just trying it out and fell in love. It had everything she wanted in a career: hours for a single mom working weekends, deep human connection, service, and creativity. “Who could ask for more?!” she says. 

Emerson has a BA in studio arts and a master’s degree in human services. She went back to Colorado Mountain College to pursue a degree in professional photography. With four classes left, COVID stopped her in her tracks and has taken her in a direction that has not allowed her to return. She still does wedding photography, where she loves the people she connects with. “The joy of serving others on the most important day of someone’s life is an incredible feeling,” she says.  

COVID shut down weddings for a while. The industry is evolving, Emerson says, and it’s become more intimate, more connected, and smaller, with new traditions coming to life and old ones dying away. Every client becomes family to Emerson. While work has its hard moments – such as working long weekends and late nights after she’s tucked her kids into bed – because she loves it deeply, it becomes a joy and not a job. 

In 2003, Emerson received an implant but doesn’t use it currently. She’s content with her digital power aid. As a wedding photographer who is deaf, she can overlook all the gossip and drama of a wedding that involves hearing. Her sense of sight has been affected by her lack of hearing, so it has shaped the artist she has evolved into. She is also a painter, writer, a soon to be wife, and a single mother. “I like to think my personal strength is joy in the small things,” she says. 

Since photography has become digital, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has provided opportunities the darkroom never did. While Emerson loves working in a darkroom, there’s a freedom in the Lightroom that feels amazing. She highly recommends making sure students have access to language while learning. “Photoshop learning is next to impossible when trying to lipread, watch the screen, take notes, and walk away with comprehension,” she says. “That was the biggest struggle for me.” 

Emerson also recommends finding someone to follow and learn from, attending conferences, and requesting access to understanding because the profession is full of nuances as well as opportunities.  

“I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have such a cool job that allows me to thrive as an artist and as a mother,” says Emerson. 

La fotografía nupcial es diversión, no trabajo 

A veces, la vida tiene una manera extraña de llevarnos hacia direcciones nuevas e inesperadas. A Amanda Emerson nunca se le había pasado realmente por la cabeza convertirse en fotógrafa de bodas. Encontró una carta antigua que les había escrito a sus padres desde la Aspen Camp School for the Deaf donde les contaba lo mucho que le entusiasmaba la fotografía. Las clases eran difíciles ya que se impartían en un cuarto oscuro, por lo que decidió estudiar una licenciatura en arte en la Western Estate y, posteriormente, trabajar como directora de una organización sin fines de lucro. 

 Unos años más tarde, Amanda, que tiene una pérdida auditiva neurosensorial bilateral en ambos oídos diagnosticada a la edad de 13 meses, dio a luz a su primogénito, una niña que lamentablemente murió al nacer.  

 «Tan solo seis fotos de ella y su pérdida cambiaron el rumbo de mi vida», recuerda Amanda. «Deseaba trabajar en una actividad en la que se prestasen servicios humanos, existiera una relación emocional y tuviera algo profundo, significativo y espiritualmente satisfactorio». 

Descubrió la fotografía nupcial y se enamoró a primera vista. Tenía todo lo que deseaba en un trabajo: tiempo libre para una madre soltera que trabajaba los fines de semana, una profunda conexión humana, servicio y creatividad. «¿Quién podría pedir más?», se pregunta. 

Amanda tenía una licenciatura en artes de estudio y un máster en servicios humanos. Regresó al Colorado Mountain College para obtener un título en fotografía profesional. A falta de cuatro clases, el COVID detuvo su trayectoria y le condujo hacia una dirección que no le ha permitido regresar. Sigue haciendo fotografía nupcial, que le encanta por la gente con la que conecta. «La alegría de servir a otras personas en el día más importante de su vida es una sensación maravillosa», asegura.  

Con la COVID, las bodas desaparecieron por un tiempo. El sector está evolucionando, comenta Amanda, y se ha vuelto más íntimo, más conectado y más pequeño, con nuevas tradiciones que cobran vida y otras antiguas que desaparecen. Para Amanda, cada cliente se convierte en parte de su familia. Si bien la profesión tiene sus momentos difíciles, como trabajar los fines de semana y por las noches después de dejar acostados a sus hijos, como le gusta realmente se ha convertido en una diversión, no en un trabajo. 

En 2003, Amanda recibió un implante pero no lo utiliza actualmente. Está contenta con su audífono digital. Como fotógrafa nupcial con sordera, puede pasar por alto todos los chismes y el drama de una boda que implica oír. Su sentido de la vista se ha visto afectado por su falta de audición, por lo que ha contribuido a que se convierta en la artista que es actualmente. También es pintora, escritora, futura esposa y madre soltera. «Me gusta pensar que mi fuerza personal es encontrar alegría en las cosas pequeñas», dice. 

Desde que la fotografía se volvió digital, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom ofrece oportunidades que nunca ofreció el cuarto oscuro. Si bien a Amanda le encanta trabajar en un cuarto oscuro, en el Lightroom existe una libertad extraordinaria. Recomienda encarecidamente que los alumnos tengan acceso al lenguaje durante su aprendizaje. «Aprender Photoshop es casi imposible cuando tratas de leer los labios, mirar la pantalla, tomar apuntes y comprender», afirma. «Fue sin duda el mayor esfuerzo, en mi caso». 

Amanda también recomienda encontrar a un profesional a quien seguir y de quien aprender, asistir a conferencias y solicitar acceso para comprender, ya que la profesión está llena de matices y oportunidades.  

«Siempre estaré agradecida por la oportunidad de tener un trabajo tan maravilloso que me permite prosperar como artista y como madre», añade Amanda. 

 

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