Yin and Yang: Weddings and Funerals

I might ramble a little today about the yin and yang of life. I will completely bring down the mood, but I really need to purge and I hope you forgive me.

Unfortunately, life isn’t full of only puppies and rainbows. There has been a lot of sadness in my own life this year (my cat, Zac, and my Aunt Carolyn passed away in one month), and now also in the Romano family. Last weekend I photographed Trisha & Neil’s wedding and I am so sad to report that Trisha’s cousin, Nathan, was hit by a car this week and passed away at the age of only 13. My heart and my thoughts are with the entire family during this extraordinary time.


I do want to thank my pro-lab, Top Flight, for stepping up and rushing a few images through production before the holiday weekend to be used at the funeral. It is with great sadness that my last photograph of the night was of Nathan playing with sparklers. A fitting image of a young boy’s life.

I am SO SO SO glad that to me, this isn’t only a job. I was supposed to leave the wedding over a half hour before sparkler time, but I was having a lot of fun and I adored the entire family, so I sucked it up and stayed late. It is times like these that I remember why I do what I do and remember the things about weddings that I find important. The people. The personalities.

For me, the wedding is not only about the Bride and Groom. There are a lot of photographers who take a million images of the dress or the rings or the details… for me, the most important detail is the guest list. In a more practical way, I try to focus my camera on the Grand Parents and other older generations, but the passing of Nathan this week reminds me to spend the extra energy and time on all of the guests. I sometimes get stuck talking to the DJ or stuck talking to the random guest who is an aspiring photographer. That is not my job. My job is to take pictures.

Images are a record of a joyous event. Sometimes the first (and sometimes the last) time the family is all together.

Some of you wonder, why my web galleries are titled, Love Life and Living instead of Weddings, Portraits, and Events. Well, it is times like these that remind me to enjoy each of those things in my life. Love isn’t just weddings, Life isn’t just having a family and Living isn’t just music or sports.

I embrace all of these parts of my life on a daily basis because life is just too short… no matter how long yours is. Because I don’t have a family of my own, my friends are my family. Even when I am really busy, I will take time away from the computer and editing to have a life. I am a firm believer in living now and balancing work and play. I take a LOT of vacations for this reason and I am so lucky to have awesome customers that are patient while I am away. Last summer I took a week off to go home to Houston for my little brother’s high school graduation.

I am SO glad that I did because my Aunt Carolyn got really sick shortly after that. So I took another week off last November to visit with her in Boston. And another week this summer after she passed away to help sort her estate. I wish I had more moments with her and I wish that I put work on the back burner for her while she was here, but I am glad that I took the time this summer to help my parents pack up her apartment. It was really important for me to be there with my Mom.

I will also be taking a week off at the end of September to visit Wales. My Mom and Dad are bringing my Aunt’s ashes to Wales for a service and to release her where we left Gramps a few years ago. Also, my two favorite people in the whole world are having milestone birthdays while I am there. Great Aunt Elsie turns 80 and Great Uncle Ern turns 85. I plan to see them as much as possible while they are still kickin.

Now, I am typically an upbeat and pragmatic person, so I try really hard not to have regrets. I try to see the joy in Nathan’s passing right after the most fun, family-filled day ever. Like this week was like the sparklers. That being said, I really miss my cat and I really miss my Aunt. And I really regret not taking more pictures of them. Ironically, the people that are closest to me, I have the least amount of pictures of! Maybe I figured I’d always do it later. Maybe now that this is my job, I don’t look for beauty in the everyday.

I plan to take my camera to Wales and have as many pictures of all of my family as I do of the castles. And I plan to take the photo-journalistic side of my job even more seriously, without as much pressure to get the images that will sell or what I am “supposed” to get at a wedding.

6 thoughts on “Yin and Yang: Weddings and Funerals”

  1. What a moving tribute! You made me cry but in a good way! Thank you for all you are doing for the Romano family. There are only a few things that a few people can do during times like this and you have generously given of yourself, using your talent to ease the pain just a bit for these very loving people! You are wonderful – and what a great cat!

  2. Heather, you are amazing. This is a time to count blessings and be grateful for love, life and family. I can’t tell you how grateful and appreciative I am for you, your work and your words. I am sorry that you experienced losses this year as well, and I am also feeling so touched to have had you photograph our wedding and be a part of the family right now. It’s truly powerful how life works itself out. The fact that you stayed late to take pictures of our send off and captured that image of Nate with the sparkler is just too coincidental to not give you goosebumps and that feeling like you just had to be there.

    You will forever be a part of our family, like it or not!

  3. Heather, I wanted to thank you for the beautiful pictures that you made for our family for Nathan’s services. The photo where he is near the cake captures his personality perfectly. This week has been like a rollercoaster ride…from the most amazing wedding to the worst possible thing any of us have experienced in our lives. Thank you for staying late at the wedding and giving us the photo of Nathan that we will cherish forever.

  4. Heather, this is very well written and obviously from the heart. Even the most upbeat people, while enjoying the “ying” need to come down a bit and show the “yang”. There is always bad time “yang”…but it allows you to appreciate the good time “ying”. And we need to slow down and appreciate the good times…all the good times….the big ones…but even more so, the little ones. Those are the ones you miss the most.

  5. Heather, I am Trisha’s youngest uncle Chad. I was not able to attend the wedding, however, I can say that I was truly touched by your photography. I truly felt like I was there with the family! Our family is so unique, in a way that not many people would be able to understand. I think you captured it with 110% accuracy! I was in Syracuse/Rochester this past weekend to be with the family. It was a very somber time, but I can assure you that when we received the images from you and your staff, the family was so overwhelmed and touched! I cant not express how much we appreciate what you have done for our family, on both spectrums of our lives. I, personally, wish I had the opportunity to meet you and thank you in person. Words cannot merely express how much my family, my friends, and I appreciate what you have done for us!

    Thank you for everything,

    Chad V. Romano

  6. Didn’t wanna put this out there publicly but since our wedding, my great aunt passed away and my wife’s grandma isn’t doing great.

    It’s very special to us that we have so many great pictures of them both from our wedding. The article you just posted is 100% true. Thanks again for being amazing!

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