Personal Archives | Tanya Jacobs Photography

What makes a beautiful wedding?

I recently got to photograph a ridiculously beautiful wedding that I had to actually pinch myself. But it wasn’t just the incredible settings, handpicked decor or elegant touches that made it beautiful.

Yes, there was pennygum and dainty florals and other pretty smells.
Yes, there were gorgeous members of well groomed and gorgeous bridal parties.
Yes, there were even the cutest flower girls in lace dresses and pageboys in suspenders to add to it all.

Majestic horses, canapés under trees, wine flowing and dresses gently dancing in the wind.

As I stood there, photographing guests sipping on wine and beers and eating small tartlets and other delicious toppings on crackers, I couldn’t help but notice something else.

It wasn’t JUST all of that that made this wedding so beautiful.

It was the happiness. 

The love.

The tears twinkling in a mom’s eyes. The pride on a gran’s face. The belly laughs of friends.

The pure, raw emotions of it all.

Have a look at wedding photos. You’ll see it in the way the groom looks at his bride walking down the aisle, or in the confetti toss.

And in the hugs.

And between the family photographs.

In the moments. That’s where the beauty of a wedding is.

In the happiness.

What if I’m never photographed?

What if I’m never photographed?

What if, one day, I’m not here anymore and all that is left are fading memories and nothing more because when I did exist, I did not want my photograph taken?

I am too self aware of the gap in my teeth, the size of my arms, my chest, my hair, my skin, whatever it is, to just be me in photographs. 

But the people who will one day cherish these photos, won’t remember the awkward gap, they’ll remember my smile. My laugh. They won’t even think of the size of my arms. They’ll remember only how it felt to have those arms wrapped around them in a hug or how I made them feel when I picked them up.

I envy people who are confident in their own skin, despite their flaws. But everyone has insecurities. I see it when I photograph women. Whenever I shoot, I always show them a sneak peek off the back of my camera during the session to show them how beautiful they look or how well they’re doing in front of my lens.

It’s so rewarding to see this happiness and confidence in the people I get to photograph.

And yet, when someone pays me a compliment,  I brush it off like dandruff.

Have you seen that old Dove advert of a forensic artist who draws women as they see themselves based on their own descriptions?

Watch it here, if you haven’t already seen it. And even if you have, watch it again. 

This video speaks volumes to me and I’m sure it will for you too if you don’t always see your own beauty. Beauty is not only skin-deep, it runs far deeper than that and it exists in every single person. you have to go find it.

If not for yourself, for those who love and care about you.

One of my favourite photographers, Sue Bryce created the hashtag #existinphotographs to encourage women to be present in their own photographs, to have their photos taken, if not for themselves, then for the people who love them.

One day your children will look for photos of you, and what will they have? 

As a photographer, I am paid to capture photographs that I hope are memorable. It’s one of the greatest blessings of the job; that I get to photograph unscripted, natural, authentic and fleeting moments.

Nothing but authentic love and happiness. 

It is such a privilege to know that long after the shoot or wedding day, that memory is there. It exists for years to come.

And it exists for someone to cherish.


I am grateful for a husband who puts things into perspective and points out; Those arms you worry about? They hold our daughter.

He’s pretty good at perspective.

And all of a sudden, it’s worth it.

I’d rather have my daughter look at a photo of a happy me, than no photo at all.


Thank you to Laura Versfeld Photography who took this very special photo of me and Christiaan in December 2014.

Starting now, I’m going to be in front of the lens more, with the people I love, celebrating genuine moments.

To be present in every one of these.

And to have that captured and cherished.

I hope you will be too. 


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