Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Finding me

**This is a long story, but if you read to the end, you'll see the point. Promise**

This is me circa 1999. I'm the short one in the middle. It's the day of my high school graduation. I'm fresh faced and excited.

I was about to finish what had been the hardest year of my life to date. Not because of the study and pressure, but because I fell ill to depression during it, and had battled everyday to make it to graduation. During that year I missed umpteen classes because I was incapacitated by my illness. I was School Captain, but wasn't fit to lead myself, let alone lead a school. I made it to graduation, and the smile you see on my face here is one of sheer relief that I'd done it.

I wasn't to know when the photo was taken though that not long after graduation I would again become very ill. It took hold of me and didn't let go. I couldn't sit my exams. I couldn't join in the fun of finally finishing school. I had to battle to get better with every ounce of strength I had.

And it's pretty much been like that every since. Great things have happened to me in that time. I became a journalist, I fell in love, I had two children. I've always been able to cherish and love and adore these highs, I've just also had to deal with the hellish lows at the same time.

Why am I writing about all this now? Why today? Because on this day last year two people believed in me and it changed my life.

Sarah and Nick chose me to be their wedding photographer. When I say they chose me, I really mean they convinced me, because I was dead set against the idea. "I'll screw it up", I repeatedly told them. "I'll ruin your wedding day because the photos will be terrible." "I'll pay for you to hire someone else". Despite my pleas to be let off the hook, Sarah and Nick stood firm. And I can't thank them enough for doing so.

They believed I could do the job. They were unwavering. I'll never forget how nervous I was as Sarah stepped out of the car. Considerable shaking was going on and there was a knot in my stomach the size of Tasmania. As Sarah stepped out of the car, she glanced in my direction and winked. And in that moment I knew I could do it. I could be their wedding photographer. I could capture their love. I could be the one to create the photos they would use to remember their wedding by.

And I did it. I was still nervous the whole time, but the nerves gave way to adrenaline. But I nailed it. Totally nailed it.

When I got home from their wedding I was exhausted but exhilarated. I talked and talked and talked. I think Amba may have fallen asleep while I was listing which lens I used for which part of the wedding (to non-photographers this is a complete *snore*). I woke up the next morning and was still buzzing. I was still banging on about it a week, and even a month later.

I started to toy with the idea that I would pursue being a wedding photographer. Just maybe, this is something I could do for a living. Heck, I would do it. I would become Meaghan Cook - incredibly amazing wedding photographer.

I started to feel excited about my day. This was a completely foreign feeling to me, and one I didn't recognise for awhile. I thought that I just wasn't as tired as I usually was. But then I realised that maybe I wasn't so depressed anymore. Maybe being a wedding photographer is what I'm meant to do for myself to make myself better. To finally beat the darstedly black beast I had to be a wedding photographer.

One year ago today I started my career as a wedding photographer. One year ago today I started my recovery. I can now stand here and proudly say: I am well. I'm medication free for the first time in ten years. I'm the Meaghan I was in the photo taken in 1999. Fresh faced, and with a smile in my voice.

My gratitude to Sarah and Nick is immense and shall remain for the rest of my life. They helped me start something I had not been able to achieve on my own. They helped me unlock the ability to enjoy my life that had been kept from me for a decade. They believed I could be someone great, believed that I could be someone more than what I was at the time. They believed in me.

So the equation to me seems quite simple: photograph weddings, photograph love, photograph people in love and I'll be well.

That's me, found.



Natalie May 20, 2009 at 10:17 PM  

Wow Meaghan, a very inspiring story. You have come along way, battled so much. You certainly did nail that wedding shoot too!!!

Jo Ashworth May 20, 2009 at 10:29 PM  

good on you Meaghan - a wonderful story, you have left me speechless.

Angie King May 20, 2009 at 11:05 PM  

wow thanks for sharing your story! and you did do them proud with those photos! Good on you :)

~4Sweets~ May 21, 2009 at 12:19 AM  

Not only are you a wonderful photographer but you are extremely articulate too.....these are 2 of my very own dreams. Congratulations.

Renee Bell May 21, 2009 at 8:58 AM  

wow Meaghan!!!! You gave me goosebumps!!! Such a wonderful story and I am so glad that you have found your true calling and you are definetely well and truly on your way to becoming a awesome wedding photographer.
I remember this wedding shoot you did back then - loved the blue wall and the baloons!!!

You rock girly - keep up the great work and keep smiling and looking forwards xxx

Kirsten May 21, 2009 at 8:55 PM  

Well done on finding yourself. You are lucky some never do. Your passion is wonderful, your strength is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey.

And congrats on being a fab photographer.....

Clairebear May 22, 2009 at 4:43 PM  

Awww meaghan, you are completely inspiring & awesome. You have no idea how much I'm in awe of your confidence in your photography, now even more so. You totally kicked ass on that day (and ever after) xox


Thanks so much for your wonderful responses. I wrote it more for me than anything else, but if I can inspire at the same time, then it's definitely worth it. *Meaghan

Anonymous May 24, 2009 at 5:21 PM  


One year ago today you took the most amazing beautiful photos of our daughter, Sarah and Nick, our son in law.

Thank you so much for the precious memories that you captured for us on their very special day.

Have faith in yourself and be very proud of what you have accomplished.

Ross & Wilma

Anonymous May 24, 2009 at 5:57 PM  

hello meaghan,

i sat reading your story with tears running down my face because i was so proud of you . not only did you have the talent to capture the pure magic of Nic and Sarahs wedding day but you had the courage to do it. lots of love and lifes best ellen maxwell xxxxxxxxx

Anonymous May 25, 2009 at 11:21 PM  

goosebumps. love it. calling u tomorrow. Anna

charleigh May 29, 2009 at 8:46 PM  

hi meaghan! i just found your blog from a link at 5mp. its hard to believe nic & sarah's wedding was your 1st. the images are magical & show that you've definitely found your niche. keep smiling!

Anonymous May 29, 2009 at 9:10 PM  

Oh Meaghan your story IS so like MY STORY its almost scary! I have now shot 3 weddings and feel the same as you do BUT you were lucky, you found a way out of your darkeness..I'm still fighting. Your story gives me hope. Thanx


Baby Photographer Sydney June 23, 2012 at 4:47 AM  

Thank you for sharing superb story! and you probably did do them proud with people photos! Very good on you :)


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