Danni and David were married two months ago, and something Danni said during her vows struck me with its familiarity. It’s a concept that I’ve been ruminating on for months now– the art of kintsugi and it’s relationship to our everyday lives. Kintsugi is a Japanese tradition of repairing cracked ceramics with gold, filling the seams so that the recovered object is more beautiful, more special, more unique than it had been before. Danni lost her brother several years ago, and David (then just her boyfriend) told her that she was like a broken object, repaired and filled with gold. He told her that those experiences made her stronger and more beautiful than she was before. Of course it hurt– cracks, divisions, brokenness, loss– it always hurts. But life has to move on, and recovering from those experiences gives us a new perspective, gives life new value if you can find a way forward.
I think a lot about kintsugi, and it’s sister tradition, wabi sabi in my work. I decided a long time ago that, with regards to wedding photography, I’m more interested in what happens beneath the obvious. That “perfect” isn’t always the right story– sometimes, more information and more feeling is conveyed by motion, by happy accidents, and by non-traditional means of picture-making. Unique is beautiful. Imperfect is beautiful. With sites like Pinterest and the hundreds of wedding blogs, it’s easy to get lost in the details. It’s easy to forget the “why” of your wedding, because the “how” is just so pretty. So perfect. But, we are not perfect. We ALL have our own cracks and brokenness. What makes weddings so inspiring to me is that we find ways to celebrate love and family despite our past. We bring our loved ones together to share in a special time that becomes our gold. Celebrations, weddings, family reunions, they fill our broken spaces and make us whole– more than whole– again. When the perfect floral arrangements are gone, it’s the vessel — cracked and repaired and precious– that remains.