The Wedding Photographer Photographer

Matt Leibel


The wedding photographer photographer was busier than ever. Couples had decided that typical wedding shots felt too cliché; they wanted photos that merely suggested the existence of these moments instead. The wedding photographer photographer was acknowledged as the best in the business. He understood how to capture the essence of a wedding photographer at work because he’d been a wedding photographer before branching out to this extra, some would say unnecessary, level of remove. He’d always been interested in the art of looking: at museums he was less concerned with observing the art, and more concerned with observing the people observing the art. He made notes: “Woman folding arms impatiently; child with tongue sticking out; man pawing at his own goatee while looking at a chiaroscuro sketch by Van Dyck.” The WPP began taking pictures of museumgoers who were deep—almost erotically deep—in the throes of the act of looking. His fascination with the second-hand extended even to his own marriage. He had become interested in watching his wife engage in acts of intimacy with strange men. (By which he meant strangers to him; the men didn’t have to be particularly strange, and usually weren’t.) In fact, watching her excited him more than being with her himself. This was not a deal breaker—he’d explained his proclivities early in their relationship. They’d met at a wedding, actually. She was a wedding planner, and he was photographing the wedding photographer according to the nuptial couple’s very specific needs (with a focus on the WP’s two-toned bowling-style loafers, a particular fascination of the bride-to-be’s). It was at the WPP’s request that the voyeuristic scenarios with his own wife became more and more elaborate; a second-order element was added as a second stranger was hired to watch the wife’s encounters, and the WPP took candid photos of this stranger. The WPP’s wife especially liked these shots because of the expression the WPP was able to capture on the face of Stranger #2: usually a look of titillation mixed with confusion mixed with the terror of an interloper on the verge of being found out, even though he was an invited guest. Everything seemed to be going well for the WPP. His particular personal and professional desires were being largely satisfied. This is more, he thought, than most people could say—until he noticed what seemed to be a new set of characters at the weddings he worked. These weren’t the usual wedding crashers, nor relatives of the couple who’d grown antisocial after an intrafamily spat. No. It was only after a handful of these weddings, and after talking to friends in the biz, that the WPP realized the truth: these new faces were wedding photographer photographer photographers. The WPPPs were hired to photograph him, and him alone. And the sudden switch from observer to observed unnerved the WPP more than he might have anticipated. He told his wife that he couldn’t be part of a photography sandwich, to which she replied, rightly, that this was exactly what wedding photographers had been dealing with ever since the WPP became a WPP. And that if the WPP couldn’t handle the emergence of the WPPP as the next evolution of a fast-changing industry, maybe it was time for him to move on from the job—and for her to move on from him. And, indeed, just weeks after the WPP’s wife moved out, he quit working entirely. He parked himself on his sofa in front of the TV, where for weeks on end, he did little but watch a show about characters who do nothing but watch other characters on TV. Soon, word of the WPP’s downfall got around, and paparazzi (mostly WPs, a few WPPPs, and even other WPPs with whom the WPP had worked) gathered around the WPP’s windows to snap candid pictures of him. An exhibition of those photos, eventually, appeared at the MOMA. The wedding photographer photographer never attended the show, but he spent many hours online, looking at pictures of museumgoers, who themselves were looking at other museumgoers, who were looking at still further museumgoers, who were looking—from what he could tell—at nothing at all.