Weddings are all about ritual; white dresses, vows, rings, first dances, etc. Regardless of how unique a given wedding is, there are certain patterns, which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because a wedding photographer has a rough idea of the arc of the day, a curse because if you’ve been doing this for awhile you want to avoid taking pictures you’ve made before. Even though your mandate is to make the best pictures possible of this wedding regardless of what precedes it. Other patterns emerge over a period of time, often having less to do with weddings per se than human nature.

I’m a wedding photojournalist in Denver, but I work across the country. These two pictures were made a few years apart, the first at Tregaron Conservancy in Washington DC, the second a few months ago at Great Oak Manor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. A boy and his grandfather, a boy and his father.

I think I waste a few brain cells making a faint memory of every picture I take, tying up millions of synapses a year that could be put to better use. When I saw the beginnings of the picture on the right, the composition was already superimposed with my memory of the one on the left. When constantly looking for things that are aboutto happen, those patterns can be a guide. Repetition isn’t always a bad thing. Seeing ourselves in others, or others in others, is a reminder of what we share. It helps us connect with complete strangers. That is a pattern worth keeping.