n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist - the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip the same closeup of an eye - which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.
A few months back I was exposed to this word, this concept, of vemödalen. It struck me hard. Haven't I just been recreating what others have done? Are there any truly unique photos in my portfolio? Honestly, just the word scared the shit out of me so much that I didn't touch my camera for almost a week. I didn't look at instagram, Pinterest made me queasy. Was it truly possible that every photograph had been taken and I was too late? That somehow being born when I was and picking up a camera so late in the game had prevented me from making something unique? Why weren't more photographers concerned about this!?
As I mulled this idea over and considered the consequences of it in my business as a wedding photographer I came to a realization. I had been viewing this word as something dirty, a cap on my creative abilities, or a reason to give up. However, the opposite was in fact the truth. This word should be, and is, a source of inspiration to me! Yes, other photographers have probably taken a picture of a couple in this location before, doing this or a similar pose, but they did not and could not capture this unique moment. They didn't capture that subtle smile that is one of a kind to this bride. They didn't capture the way that this couple, and only this couple, holds hands. How could they? This moment, with these people, is one of a kind; it has never happened before and it will never happen again.
I will not give up because others have come before me. I will push forward capturing what is truly unique to this couple who are in love before my lens. I reject vemödalen as a dirty word but as a recognition that every single time my shutter clicks I have the responsibility to capture a truly exclusive moment. A moment where two people, very deeply in love, are together and immortalize it for all time. Their love is like no other before it and will be like none after it and therefore, this moment, this photograph, is truly unique.