Apart from watching the groom’s face when he first sees his bride walking towards him, one of my other favourite moments is to watch these men interact with their children at the wedding. I love watching them lift their babies, squeeze their daughters tightly, pull their “too-grown” sons in for a bear hug.
But what melts my heart even more than the fathers who are proud of their little ones, are the fathers who fell in love with the children they met when they met their brides. So for the rest of this little tribute, I will not be using the word “step”, as these men are anything but steps in front of my lens.
Now in this day and age of camera phones, iPads and social media, unless a couple makes strict requests to have no photos taken and posted, I’ll get a call ever so often asking, “Is you shoot ‘so and so’ wedding?” Proudly I’ll answer yes. Then I may get a little back story, so far thankfully, no one has ever called me with a malicious backstory – they probably know I won’t entertain. But I can tell you, it warms my heart when I’m told that the child or children in the family shots were fathered by someone else, but daddied by the groom. I LOVE when I cannot tell that these children did not biologically come from the groom. To me, he has such a deep love for his wife that he falls in love with her children too.
I can remember in 2012 shooting a wedding in Mexico. Now, I know my girlfriend (who
knew the couple) had mentioned to me that the couple each had their own children from previous relationships. But I had to call my friend to ask her if she was sure she got the details right. The couple and I have become good friends, and they remain one of my favourite couples and families of all time. You see, it wasn’t just the fact that the bride’s daughter was calling the groom “daddy”, or even that she and the groom’s twins were clowning and fighting as if they’ve been acquainted since birth; but it was the fact that his entire family had embraced the bride and her daughter. She was their niece, cousin, granddaughter and sister. There was no “step” anything going on at all. And when the groom spoke, there was no mention of step either. She was his daughter. They were a family.
I did a wedding last year where the bride’s son was throwing a bit of a tantrum. He was about four or five – I guess he was a bit taken back by all the attention his mom was getting. What really moved me, was the way the groom gently tried to soothe him. This man’s patience, his soft spoken voice, and refusal to have someone take the child away, was absolutely amazing. I won’t lie, I know a few blended fathers who could take an entire chapter from this groom. He understood that the child was upset. He understood that what he needed was more love and understanding, not alienation or chastisement.
But the wedding that really brought tears to my eyes (literally) was a wedding I did late
last year. Now, not only did the groom tear up after seeing his bride walk down the aisle, but at the reception, his twin and other brothers decided to take a group shot with their children. Well, the tears started to flow when someone said, “Come, come … ALL the children.” Now I don’t know if this is what you call fate or genetics, but each married brother was a part of a
blended family, and they refused to take the photo until all the children were a part of the shot. I tell you, that was one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever had the honour of taking.
So to the men who I’ve had the pleasure of capturing on maternity shoots, I celebrate you and the presence/love you emit to your children from the womb and after. To the men I’ve had the honour of capturing during family shoots, I salute you for showing your children that you are always going to be there. And to the men who meet your children when you meet your loved one, I give you a standing ovation for blending and not “stepping”.
In a world where most of you men have to unfairly carry the grunt of the pain inflicted by other men, and you still love through it, continue to be amazing men that these children can look up to. Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special and phenomenal type of man to be a daddy!