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A recent report of out South Texas reveals the harsh reality of being a wedding photographer in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In an article titled ‘Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some $#!+’ shared by Texas Monthly, reporter Emily McCullar tells the story of a wedding photographer who was diagnosed with COVID-19 after it was revealed the groom of the party had tested positive for COVID-19 and didn’t inform the wedding photographer.
The photographer, who remains unnamed throughout the article, was informed of the groom’s positive diagnosis by a bridesmaid in the party. But not before the photographer had spent ‘an hour or two inside the unmasked wedding party’ taking photographs. The photographer said ‘[the bridesmaid] was looking for me to be like, “Oh, that’s crazy,” like I was going to agree with her that it was fine.’
That wasn’t the case though. The photographer suffers from asthma, a serious comorbidity factor that can increase the risks of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Additionally, the photographer has three kids and a husband at home that she didn’t want to infect, should she end up COVID-19 positive.
After discovering the groom’s secret, the photographer and her assistant left. Texas Monthly notes ‘her exit was tense.’ ‘The wedding planner said it was the most unprofessional thing she’d ever seen […] Bridesmaids accused her of heartlessly ruining an innocent woman’s wedding day.’ The photographer even recollected a bridesmaid telling her ‘I’m a teacher, I have fourteen students. If I’m willing to risk it, why aren’t you?’
After leaving, the photographer ‘canceled her Thanksgiving plans with family, sent her kids to relatives’ houses so they wouldn’t get sick, and informed the brides of her upcoming weddings that she’d be subcontracting to other shooters,’ says Texas Monthly. Sure enough, a few days after the wedding, the photographer started feeling symptoms and eventually tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The photographer said the couple whose wedding she was photographing ‘didn’t care’ about the diagnosis and ‘didn’t offer to compensate her for the test, nor did they apologize for getting her sick.’
The article goes on to point out that this incident is far from an isolated one. As you browse through the hashtag ‘#TexasWedding’ on Instagram, there are a handful of images that show groups of friends and family celebrating matrimony with what appears to be little regard for protocols suggested for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, a disease that’s confirmed to have killed over 302,000 individuals in the United States alone.
|A screenshot of a few images that show up when you search ‘#TexasWedding’ on Instagram. Faces have been blurred for privacy sake.|
The report details statements from other photographers, who share their experiences trying to shoot weddings throughout the pandemic. A reoccurring theme is a lack of masks, proper social distancing and little means of sanitation options, such as hand sanitizer.
As for the original wedding photographer, she recalled a heartbreaking conversation she had with a bridesmaid at the wedding:
‘I have children,’ she told a bridesmaid, ‘What if my children die?’ The bridesmaid responded, ‘I understand, but this is her wedding day.’
The report notes that not all wedding anecdotes it came across from photographers were as reckless as the featured one, but even in the anecdotes that featured more responsible weddings, nearly half of the guests were unmasked, including those who had high risk factors. While Texas reduced the size of wedding gatherings — from 500 to 250 individuals — there’s still plenty of risk in having that many individuals together at a single venue.
Vaccines are being distributed around the globe, but according to experts on the matter, it will still be a while before anything gets back to ‘normal,’ whatever that may look like. And until then, this unfortunate reality is what many wedding photographers (and other professions) will have to face as the death toll continues to rise, particularly in the United States.