Monday, 25 November 2013

What about shooting "studio" portraits at home?

Family portraits are a wonderful way to create memories to last a lifetime - or longer. And there are many ways to create those portraits. 

In good weather, going outside can be a great way to have some fun and make some great images as well. But when the weather is drab, or cold, what can you do? Move inside, of course!

Studio portraiture has the advantage of controlled lighting which means your images can be sculpted more clearly and in ways that can be more difficult in an outdoor setting. It is different - in some ways better and in some ways not as good, but overall, you can obtain some wonderfully dramatic images.

Home studios give you the opportunity of taking it up a notch. Kind of like a doctor - when you visit them at their office, they do the same things as at a house call, but somehow their office always feels colder - more sterile - less friendly. When they visit  you at home, you can be more relaxed. Some even say it helps you to heal faster. 

Unfortunately economics and logistics have made the doctors house call a thing of the past, but it doesn't have to be that way for photography thank goodness!

Familiar surroundings...

One of the biggest advantages of the home studio is the familiar surroundings. Even when a simple studio backdrop is set up, a family knows they are at home and feels at ease. When not in the makeshift "studio", they can sit on their own couch, even eat their own snacks, and wait for the next time they need to be in front of the camera.

When not using the "studio" setup, they can be photographed in their own home's decor, making for a natural "environmental" photo that not only portrays the family, but how they live as well. Photographing the family doing something they all enjoy - cooking in the kitchen, or playing a board game - can make the images more than a portrait; it can create a little bit of family history - something to bring back fond memories for decades to come. Something for generations to look back on and learn a little bit about their family.

In our fast paced - moment to moment - society, we don't think about looking back 30 years from now at how we were. But it is a little like stopping and smelling the roses - taking those moments now to capture them will bring a lot of joy down the road. 

The Weather...

Having your portraits done in your own home means that you won't have to worry about the weather! Good old Canadian Fall, winter and sometimes even spring can be very unpredictable and relying on a good weekend to take photos can mean sometimes rescheduling several times. 

Inside, the light can be controlled, and everyone can stay dry, so the photo session can go ahead just like the postman - in rain, sleet or hail.

Rambunctious kids...

Kids are kids! They are full of fun and energy. They simply ooze life! But tying them down for photographs can be a real challenge sometimes. That's another reason home portraits can be so great. Kids can play the way they would any time they are home. They can run around (assuming that's allowed in their house) while Mom and Dad are getting their portraits taken, or as each of the kids is having their individual portrait taken. Their own toys are available and they can play with them while they wait, or even bring them into the portraits. 

It is their space and naturally they are going to feel more "at home" because they are. When it comes time to move into the make shift "studio", it is not something that feels odd or contrived.

Whether photographing families outdoors or indoors, kids are usually excited and run around and play - and that helps them to smile lots! Perhaps the energy doesn't seem like it to us as adults, but It helps them relax in the process! Capturing them at just the right moment can be a challenge, but thank goodness the camera is fast!


At home, opportunities arise that would be difficult to recreate in a normal studio. Moments can be created in an instant - and be over just as quickly.

In the photo to the left, Mom was sitting on the floor and we called the boys over to give her a kiss. They ran in, kissed her quickly and ran away again... it was over just that quickly! In that instant, a wonderful memory was created that will be cherished for a very long time. 

Indoor portraits...

So why not set up a portrait session at your home. You won't have to worry about the weather, and you might just find it a lot more relaxed. Whether indoors or outdoors, you will have some wonderful memories to share with your kids and grand-kids for lifetimes to come.

(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What camera should I get for Christmas?

Christmas is coming and you want to get some really great pictures of the family this year. Or maybe a camera is on someone in your family's wish list. But what should you buy?

This question comes up a lot, and the answer of course is "it depends". There many different cameras on the market for a reason, and diving into the details will make your head spin. So rather than covering everything, I want to outline a few considerations for you that might make the choice a little easier, or at least get you started. 

One other thing; before I begin, although I shoot Canon, the tips below apply to any brand of camera, whether it be Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Canon or any of a hundred other brands.

How much do I want to learn?

The first question you should ask yourself is "how much do I want to learn about photography"? 

If you don't know what shutter speed and aperture are, don't care, and really never want to know, but you still want to take great pictures, you still can! Turn to a good point-and-shoot camera and avoid the DSLR's. Point and shoot cameras really do take great pictures, have some easy settings to help you and can be very simple to operate. And just because the camera is big doesn't mean it's going to make you a better photographer. You have to know how to use it to really improve your images, and that takes time and effort. So if you just want "good" pictures, then purchase a "good" camera and avoid the complications.

When purchasing a "point-and-shoot", I highly recommend you purchase one that encloses the lens when it is turned off (like the Canon Powershot pictured here for example). This will help you avoid fingerprints, dirt and scratches on the lens that will ruin your photographs. Even a lens cap (which you should also use on your DSLR) will be better than a bare lens. 

If you're purchasing an underwater camera, it may not cover the lens when it is turned off, so be sure to get a case that will protect the lens when not in use.

One frustrating thing you should check when buying a point and shoot camera is how fast it actually takes the picture. A digital camera is really a small computer, and if the computer is slow, it can take time to process the image. The time between when you push the shutter button and when the picture is actually captured can sometimes be a few seconds. That can be very frustrating when you are constantly missing the moment.

On the other hand, if you are eager to spend time learning the art of photography, you will want to consider spending more money and buying a camera you can change lenses on. These cameras are much more flexible, allow for more manual control, are usually faster and provide many more creative options.

Although DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras technically are TTL (Through the Lens) and mirrored, mirror-less cameras are becoming popular (like the Canon EOS M pictured here), come in smaller packages and take awesome photos much like their older more mechanically oriented cousins. You can still change the lenses on these cameras and they are much more portable (the reasons for changing lenses are another topic and would take too long to explain in this blog entry). Keep in mind, however, that the mounts for these cameras may be quite different from the full DSLR's and you may end up having to purchase lenses all over again if you move up to a larger camera.

What is it for?

Next you should ask "What do I want to use it for"?

If you plan on travelling with your camera, and are not working for National Geographic, then a smaller package is likely better - it will be easier to transport, carry, and be less obtrusive when you pull it out in public. On the other hand, a larger format (bigger sensor) camera may be better for grabbing detail in objects, or landscapes. Mirror-less cameras are great in this regard as they come in smaller bodies with smaller lenses that stow more easily.

Lens choice can provide some creative opportunities, but you may not want to carry too many lenses. A good zoom lens can be very versatile, but may not give you the crispness of image you are looking for.

Everything is a trade off and a balancing act. If you are buying a camera that you can change the lenses on, though, be sure to buy a body with a good selection available. You may want to add to your arsenal in the future and limiting the types and sizes of lenses you can acquire might cause you to have to purchase a different body in the future. Also on that note, purchasing a body with a healthy eco-system of lenses means that you will likely be able to change out the camera body in the future and still use those lenses - something that can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Are you looking to shoot friends and family? A good portrait lens (covering 85-100mm) is important, but you should also consider if you will be in tighter spaces over the holidays and need something wider. 

Check what the sensor size is on your camera and match the lenses to the sensor (or at least understand how the lens will work with the sensor). A smaller sensor has a different "crop factor" and a 60mm lens on a cropped sensor will take pictures more like a 100mm lens on a 35mm frame camera... purchasing a lens that fits the cropped sensors may not work on your full frame camera either, though a full frame lens may fit your cropped sensor... sorry, too much detail - if your salesperson can't explain that to you, find another sales person! Again, if you have to buy just one lens, a good zoom lens will help you cover the range.

If  you are looking to get more creative, then you should definitely consider a DSLR, or at least a camera with interchangeable lenses. That will give you the most options as other attributes of a camera are largely similar between makes and models of inter-changeable lens cameras. 

By the numbers...

Here are a couple of other considerations you should make, and they involve numbers:

Megapixels: This used to be the big deciding factor, but no longer is. Any camera with 10 or more megapixels will be high enough for almost every use. In fact, if you're just posting on social media, 2 Mpx may be all you really need. Many cell phone cameras now have cameras more than 10 megapixels. The opposite consideration is important though; If you have too high a megapixel count, your file sizes will be much higher requiring more storage for your pictures, which in turn can cost you in storage and backup space (you do make backups, don't you?).

ISO: This is the new megapixels race as camera sensors improve their ISO ratings. What ISO can the camera go to without too much grain in the image? The higher this number, the less light is required to take a nice steady image. It's something worth asking about. When you bought film (did you ever buy film?), it was usually 100, 200, 400 ISO with some going up to 1200. Now the sensors are reaching 12,800 and much higher without significant noise (grain) in the image.

$: Yeah, I'm including this here, because you can spend anywhere from $50 to $50,000 on a camera that in essence is a lightproof box with a shutter and a sensor. Sometimes it's best just to set yourself a budget and stick within it!

Just the tip of the iceberg...

Of course, all of this is just the beginning when considering what camera to buy. We could talk about digital vs optical zoom, off camera flash, wireless transfer, sync speed and any of a hundred other topics, but at least remember that first question. 

I know people who have bought a DSLR thinking they want to take better pictures, only to find it too complicated and that they can take just as good pictures with their point and shoot camera. On the other hand, I have seen people frustrated that they can't do what they want to with their point and shoot.

It's a personal decision, but whatever you purchase, have fun with it this Christmas! And if you forget to get out your new camera, that's OK - don't forget, you always have that one on your cell phone! 

(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Wedding Ring Review

What follows is a review published on and has been copied here verbatim. Note that pricing has changed over the years - please refer to the website for current pricing.

Enjoy the review!

This Review was written by Staff @ The Ring and is based on Interviews with this vendor & Interviews with past bridesstarted our research on Gary Scott, Owner and Principal Photographer of Gary's Lens Photography in Elmira, it was his past couples who really confirmed that this was a photographer who needed to be reviewed in The Ring. His past couples love him. Early into our interviews, we heard that Gary is "THE only photographer to consider...”, that he offers “quality and value is unlike any other” and that hiring him was "the best wedding decision I made!"
And so with unlimited hours of shooting, budget friendly pricing, a loud, loving fan base, and a relaxed approach that had even the shyest brides feeling comfortable on camera, we knew we had to find out more about this Southwestern Ontario photographer...

Personally Speaking

Gary's Lens Photography has been an evolution. He actually started out shooting stock photography and says that this was his first line of income from photography.
Gary explains, "Technology and photography have been key loves in my life since I was very young. Photography is a way for me to get out from behind the desk and become involved with people. It is a way for me to be creative and express that creativity in a way that brings joy to others."
"Back in 2006, some friends and I who had worked on the video crew at our church decided to try doing video for weddings. While we did those videos, I found myself taking photos along the side and eventually we offered photos along with the video and I started branching out on my own with the photography."
Gary started a small photography group in Cambridge, which continued to encourage and inspire him in his work. He also enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography's Pro course to further hone his skills and also became a member of the Professional Photographers of America. All the while, he was shooting weddings.
And in 2010, Gary felt ready to pursue photography on his own, officially opening Gary's Lens Photography. Over the past few years, Gary has steadily grown his client list and continues to develop his craft through workshops, courses and real wedding experience.
After so many weddings, what keeps Gary inspired? He told The Ring, "Photography for me is more than a job. It's a way to meet people, to express my creativity, to find new places and try new things. It's a lifestyle, and even though it can be exhausting at times, it is also very satisfying. I am inspired by brides themselves, by their creativity in arranging their weddings, by the people around me, by the venues and by the work of other photographers."
Amanda Fraser says she would, without a doubt, hire Gary all over again to shoot her wedding day. "I like the fact that Gary can do candid, fun shots, but also the typical wedding and engagement poses. Gary is able to catch some amazing moments; ones that you barely remember happening because the day flies by. I loved that he made us feel totally comfortable with each other and him – it’s always awkward to get in front of a camera, but Gary really helped us to relax and enjoy the moments instead of wondering how we looked or if we were smiling the right way!"

Working with Gary

While Gary has several second shooters available for weddings, he generally works alone and handles your photos from start to finish - from your initial meeting and booking, to shooting the photos, edits and delivery.
"As the lead photographer, I ensure that I am the one taking the main photos. I stick with the bride for the day, and do my level best to be exactly where I need to be at any given moment." When Gary works with an assistant, they are usually there to help with gear such as studio lights, chairs and camera gear. The second shooter will usually capture the "big picture" - the broader context of the wedding, some creative background shots (Gary covers this as well), and they usually spend time shooting the groom as he gets ready.
Paul and Brenda Taylor say Gary's Lens Photography played a huge role in the success of their wedding day, "Gary puts you at ease the moment you meet him. He's quiet and unassuming, but takes a mean photograph. He keeps you smiling and laughing and makes the entire process fun. Gary made it easy.  He had lots of ideas but listened to our ideas as well... he never gives up until he has the perfect shot."

Experience and Expertise

Gary's life experience has taken him many places, including spending twelve years as a pastor for The Salvation Army. He has taught marriage counseling and performed several weddings, all of which has played a huge role in his passion for capturing the best of each wedding he is a part of, "I respect the wedding ceremony and the deeper meaning behind it, and I try to remember this throughout the day as I'm capturing images. It's not just an event, it's a solemn and happy occasion where two people are beginning a journey that both of them hope will last their lifetimes... and I am privileged to be a part of it."
Having always enjoyed sketching and other forms of art, and also, always working with technology, the recent convergence in digital photography has become a compelling draw for Gary as it gives expression to his own creativity with tools that he understands and can work with easily.
"There is always opportunity to continually improve, and just when you think you have it down, there's something new to explore and a new way to approach imagery. It's something that lends well, not only to the one creating, but to the subjects of the images and to all those who view them. It truly is a "win-win-win" media."
All of this experience has led Gary toward putting his focus on wedding photography. "Everything seems to unite... And who could hope for a brighter, more beautiful subject than a bride and her groom on their wedding day?!"

Brides Love...

Gary says photography is much more than a job and he is truly committed to giving his couples the best possible experience on their wedding day (and in turn, through their wedding photos). Gary explains, "I am there for you and engaged in what is happening at your wedding. I am there from the moment you want me there and will stay until you have wrapped things up so that your whole day is covered."
Jeremiah and Rebecca Burnhauser have fond memories of Gary's Lens Photography, "He understood our style. If you are not used to being the center of attention and having millions of photos taken of you, Gary is amazing in the fact that he helps you relax, keeps you upbeat and encourages you along the way. He has some amazing photos and the book we received at the end blew our minds! You get so much value with Gary... and he captured every precious moment."
Gary adds that he has immense respect for the wedding ceremony and has had the opportunity to play many different roles on many wedding days. "I appreciate what the ceremony represents and do my best to capture every moment without being an annoyance or an interruption to the occasion."
A casual and flexible approach lends itself to a stress-free, fun and memorable wedding day. Therefore, Gary says he is open to ideas from his couples and constantly works to make sure that each couple he works with gets exactly what they want. "I am not stuck in a particular pattern or even style of photography. While I come with a tool kit of ideas ready to go, I am always open to suggestions from the bride and groom - they are your images after all, and you want to remember the wedding the way you made it, not just the way I see it as the photographer."
Past bride Karen Chavarria told The Ring about her favourite memory of working with Gary, "There were some fun pictures that we took after the ceremony with a basketball and the bridal party... we all love basketball. Gary brought a basketball for some pictures. It was really fun, personal and different. He was also open to hearing our ideas... he was willing to let us try things and took different shots."

Pricing and Packages

Gary's Lens Photography offers a variety of packages ranging from $1350 to $2750 for couples to choose from and all of Gary's products and services can be purchased à la carte as well.
The Covering Package ($1350) includes an initial consultation, no-obligation engagement session, full day coverage, unlimited locations, online viewing (of proofing galleries) and purchasing (of prints) for minimum six months, and a DVD including all of your images, rights-free.
The Caring Package ($1725) includes everything above plus an 11" x 8" Personalized hard cover wedding album, two 8" x10" framed prints and fifty 4.5" x 5.5" thank you post cards.
The Sharing Package ($2745) includes everything in the Covering Package and Caring Package plus two 8" x 6" parents Brag Books, a second photography to cover getting ready, the ceremony and photo session, plus a photo booth at your reception.
Past bride and groom Jeremiah and Rebecca Burnhauser say Gary's expertise was well worth the price and would recommend him to any other couple looking for a wedding photographer, "He took the time to get great poses but was still able to get a lot of photos in a small amount of time. He was able to work well with my large wedding party. There was great value for the dollar...he exceeded my expectations."
We love that Gary offers a no obligation engagement session where both the couple and the photographer have an opportunity to get to know each other before making the decision to work together - and the images from the session are the couple's to keep!
Packages can include photography only (photos can be purchased from the online proofing site), or on disk for a minimal additional fee that includes all images in high resolution. They can be printed wherever and however the couple wishes.
Gary also offers coffee table style photo albums, scrap book photo albums, custom thank-you postcards, prints and framed prints. Photo booths are also a great idea and Gary is happy to include one if requested. "They add some fun to the reception and not only provide the couple with some hilarious photos of the people they have invited, but give the family and friends an opportunity to get creative and send the couple a fun message."
Among Gary's list of products and packages, he says his coffee table album is a popular pick with brides. This album tells your story in images from beginning to end (usually including 200 plus images on thirty plus pages). Gary told The Ring, "It's beautifully arranged and bound in a personalized hard cover book. You could do this yourself, but you will save yourself a great deal of time having Gary's Lens produce it for you, and it will become a treasured heirloom just weeks after your wedding."
The hours you have Gary for are only limited by the day itself (we LOVE this) and the arrangement of images and time allocated for each portion of your images is totally up to you! If want to spend the whole afternoon taking posed shots, you'll get a ton of posed shots. If you prefer candid shots at the reception, candids will take up a larger percentage of the shots.

A casual approach

Couples that book Gary's Lens Photography are usually very easy going, outgoing and friendly. Gary has shot couples with a wide range of budgets, styles and personalities. Says Gary, "They want their wedding to look great, but not extravagant, and usually put a lot of personal touches into the day. They are serious about the commitment they are making, but have a lot of fun with their partner as well."
This fits perfectly with Gary's own style, which his describes as casual yet flexible. "I am not 'off-the-wall', but enjoy participating and capturing the fun of those who sometimes are! I am open to just about any bride. I am equipped to deal with most situations and locations and can bring assistants and second photographers in as needed."
Paul and Brenda Taylor say Gary handled every obstacle that came along on their wedding day seamlessly, "The fire alarm went off in the middle of our dinner.  It was horrible at the time, but makes quite the memory now.  Gary just kept doing his thing, and now we have a bunch of candid shots of how everyone grouped together during a frustrating moment, and who could forget the picture of the fire alarm he included to make us laugh. Honestly, you had to be there... but that's ‘the tell’ of a great photographer… nothing phased him, he just kept going."

Walking you through your booking

Email is the easiest way to get in touch with Gary. From here you'll meet (usually at a coffee shop) so you can get to know Gary and take a look at his portfolio and get to know his work. Gary will also take some time to get to know you- who you are, your interests, how you met, your wedding day vision and what you're looking for in a wedding photographer.
During your initial meeting, Gary aims to give you all of the information you need in order to book him for your wedding day. While many couples book right on the spot, Gary says there is no pressure to book until you feel comfortable and ready!
Your initial meeting will also give you the chance to book a no-obligation engagement session! This session can take place either before or after you've booked Gary's Lens Photography and the images from the shoot are yours to keep, free of charge!
Karen Chavarria remembers her first meeting with Gary, "From our very first meeting, he was very easy going, easy to talk to and spoke with a passion for the work he does. My meeting with Gary was very natural, conversation was easy flowing, and he was very nice."
Amanda and Jon Fraser agree, adding, "Meeting and working with Gary was fantastic. We had an engagement shoot with him before the wedding, so we had broken the ice a little bit. It was great to be able to have someone that you trust taking the pictures of your big day, because it is one less thing you need to worry about. We completely trusted Gary to get the shots we wanted and he went above and beyond!"
Once you've decided to hire Gary's Lens Photography for your wedding day, he will confirm your booking via email or phone. From here, the contract is drawn up and the terms and invoice is sent to you.
After you've signed your contract, Gary keeps in contact and is ready to answer any questions you many have along the way (usually by email). Subsequent meetings can also be arranged if requested and Gary is happy to meet as many times as needed.
A couple of months before your wedding, Gary will send you a questionnaire requesting information such as venue location(s), your timeline and other important information that will help Gary prepare for the big day. Gary will also take the opportunity to scout out any locations that he is unfamiliar with prior to the wedding day.
Whenever possible, Gary also likes to attend the rehearsal to ensure that everything is covered for the ceremony, that he has an idea of the flow of the ceremony, and so that he has a chance to see the venue and meet the officiant ahead of time.

Capturing the big day

On the day of, Gary will be there as early as you like. He'll usually travel between the bride and groom as they get ready (distance permitting). After prep shots, he'll arrive at the ceremony site prior to the limo to capture the venue and the bride as she arrives.
During the ceremony, Gary is busy shooting everywhere (keeping a low profile so that he's rarely seen!). Following the ceremony, Gary captures candids of the attendees and the receiving line (if applicable).
Family and formal pictures usually follow. If possible, after the photo shoot, Gary likes to arrive at the reception venue in time to take some decor shots before guests arrive. At the reception, Gary captures everything from the entrance to speeches to special moments, dances, garter and bouquet toss, and anything else you'd like images of. If requested, Gary will even take photos of the guests at their tables.
If a photo booth is ordered, it's usually set up at the reception and an assistant photographer will man the booth.
If you've requested a second photographer, they usually attend the groom's prep, the ceremony and the formal photos.

Receiving your photos

One unique process that brides will like is that after your wedding, your photos are processed for colour and exposure and are sorted into three main categories: “frame” (best images suitable to be hung on their wall), “album” (best images suitable to be put in the wedding album) and “other”. This can make choosing images easier. Sometimes there are others such as venue shots, family and friends, and photo booth images.
The photos in the "frame" folder are given particular care (distraction removal, effects and other edits are performed). From here the "frame" and "album" folders are posted on Gary's proofing site and the bride and groom are invited to view them and share them with their family.
Gary then creates your photo book and/or other products that you've ordered.
Photos are posted on the proofing site within one to two weeks and images are ready within two to four weeks. Some items, such as personalized photo books may take longer.
Next the whole package is delivered to you and the remaining fifty percent balance is collected.

Details, details, details

•    The average bride spends between $1350 and $3000 with Gary's Lens Photography. There are plenty of à la carte options to choose from to create a custom package.
•    Although Gary retains copyright of images for ownership and promotional purposes, the bride and groom are given full usage rights to the photos.
•    A 50% deposit books your date with Gary’s Lens Photography, with the remaining half due on delivery after the wedding.
•    Months to book ahead is dependent on availability only. You can book up to two weeks before the wedding date if available.
•    Gary's Lens Photography has yet to have a wedding cancellation, however, couples may cancel up to two months prior to the wedding and will receive 80% of the deposit back (10% of total wedding is retained). For cancellations within those two months, 50% of the deposit is returned (25% of total wedding cost is retained).

Good Karma

Gary loves to lend his skills to the community, working with and photographing several non-profit organizations such as the Canadian Blood Services Southern Ontario (Honouring Our Lifeblood event), Junior Achievement, Robin in the Hood medieval festival in Elmira (fun photos on his blog here), and events at several area churches.

Contacting Gary's Lens Photography

Gary Scott at Gary's Lens Photography can be reached by email at or by phone at 519-575-3282. You can also visit Gary's Lens Photography online at

Monday, 4 November 2013

What's Love got to do with it?

My wife and I at our wedding in
1992. We were officers in
The Salvation Army at the time
and wore our uniforms
at our wedding.
My wife and I have been married for 21 years.

That's saying something these days when 1 in 4 marriages ends in divorce. 

What is the secret of our longevity? Are we deeply in love? Yes, but I believe it is important to understand the word "deeply" in that statement more than it is to understand the word "love". You see, I believe it is the commitment we made to each other, then, now and always, that not only causes our marriage to survive, but thrive. The emotional feeling of infatuation is icing on the wedding cake.

Love is the answer?

When you think of love for your fiance or spouse, do you think about the warm fuzzy feelings that come over you, or do you think about a deep, lasting commitment that respects your partner and your relationship to them no matter how you feel towards them at any given moment?

Those who believe their marriage has come to the point of no return probably assess their relationship with their partner as having more moments of disappointment than moments of joy and happiness, and their lack of commitment to the relationship becomes their undoing. Looking out for #1 means doing what is right for #1. If #1 is not the relationship, then the relationship suffers. 

In contrast, those who believe in their marriage and work towards solutions to resolve problems and improve their commitment to one another see success and happiness in the long term and the short term. Couples who are willing to make sacrifices for each other are more effective in solving the problems that occur in their marriage and live happier lives.

Ben Karney, a professor of psychology and co-director of the Relationship Institute at UCLA says "It means do what it takes to make a relationship successful... In a long term relationship, both parties cannot always get their way." Only the commitment to the relationship and a willingness to compromise with one another can see you through.

It's Forever

I've been photographing couples for years now, but before that, I was a pastor. It was part of my roll to do marriage counselling before performing a marriage ceremony. Most couples enter marriage with the belief that it is "till death do us part" - which it certainly can and should be - For that to happen, it is important to consider the commitment necessary rather than simply wishing it to be so. 

Considering the things that will make the commitment difficult prepares you to face those challenges when they come. What will you do when your in-laws come between you? Who will look after the children when they come? What does it mean to grow old together? Are you truly prepared to look after each other in sickness and in health?

Love helps us enjoy the best moments of our married lives, but life brings so many twists and turns and unexpected problems. Only commitment can see us through those challenges. That commitment and the success it brings can even strengthen your relationship.

To quote from "TwoOfUs" a project of the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center, "Commitment is the part of the relationship that provides safety and security, so couples can express their thoughts, feelings, and desires openly. When they’re committed, they have the confidence that they’ll make it through the day-to-day challenges and life’s stressors that can tear a marriage apart. Commitment offers couples a sense of being part of a team, a desire for a future together and a desire to sacrifice for each other. An individual’s commitment to the marriage makes it a priority. It is vital that... you... understand how [your] decisions about commitment play a role in [your] future success... Not being committed carries great consequences, the greatest of which is relationship failure and the possible dissolution of a family."

Sounds like work!

All of that sounds like work... and admittedly, it sometimes is. As Theodore Roosevelt said "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty...", or George Bernard Shaw "Nothing is worth doing unless the consequences may be serious."

For most of us, there is nothing more serious than the relationship we will have with our spouse (except our relationship with God), nothing that will bring us more joy, or more meaning. There is also nothing more important to invest ourselves in - nothing more important to put the work into.

That's not meant to scare you out of marriage - it's meant to encourage you to take it seriously. It is worth the effort. It is worth the commitment. After 21 years, I can tell you, it is so worth it!

* This image was found on floating around tumbler without credit attached. If you know who's image it is, please let me know so that I can provide proper credit.

(c) 2013 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography