We bought each other the exact same card. I suspect as we each tried to get out of the awkward card aisle in our neighborhood grocery store on two separate occasions, we went through the same thought process….. “Too cheesy, too many words, too flowery, too over-the-top.” We both tend to hate the overstated. We always have. We’re both drawn to the subtle when it comes to telling each other how we feel. Truth be told, I think we’d both admit we think the entire holiday of Valentine’s Day is contrived — a calculated money-maker for card and candy companies. I guess we got too busy this year to call the “no cards, no gifts” truce we typically make. We’ve been each other’s Valentines for 18 years now.

It made me think, however, about how couples communicate and about how that conversation changes as we grow older together. It made me think about the words that used to be said more often and about how those things are now just understood, articulated more completely the longer we know each other through actions and little everyday moments. That space between two people that goes beyond words is so much more complex than anything that can be put onto a piece of glittery paper in the grocery store card aisle. I’m realizing when I became a wedding photographer, I started a journey of understanding that space between two people. When I first started, I was fascinated by the glitter of weddings, and I was so new that I thought it was my job to best showcase all that sparkly stuff associated with them. It’s the same stuff you find on Pinterest…sappy signs and sayings, the perfect dress, beautiful place settings and a checklist of everything a “wedding photographer” is supposed to document. What I’ve realized however, is that my job is to push past all of the “stuff” and tell a story about two people. And even beyond that, it’s to tell their love story in the context of where they came from — their relationships with their families, their friends, and who they are as individuals. My hope is that they can look back on that day and realize how everything that made them two distinct individuals, along with the spoken and unspoken between them, adds up to who they are together from that day forward, with all the complexity of something that can never be painted on a wooden sign. I hope they can always look back at how they interacted in their photos and see glimpses of why they found each other in the first place.

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.

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