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Ryan Brenizer

I am my job.

I know we're not supposed to say that. It makes us think of crushed souls and high blood pressure and deathbed regrets. It's not like that — I have incredibly fulfilling relationships, I smell the flowers and taste the fresh air, and I even am all caught up on Breaking Bad. But I am my job, and I'm so grateful. Because I am a photographer, and that means my job is me.

My clients have hired me because they like the way I see and want me to see some more. And every part of my life affects that. Even as a teenager I spent thousands of hours producing newspapers — I spent a few years only vaguely remembering what the sun looked like. But all that florescent light and newsprint led me to cover President Clinton as a 21-year-old, winning a statewide award for photojournalism. It led me to cover President Bush as he spent Earth Day quite literally chopping down trees. And it led me to be the only independent photographer allowed with the presidential candidates in their only friendly meeting of the election, in 2008 and 2012. Along the way I had a thousand experiences that I can only describe as “Forrest Gump-y”: Sharing a drink with Smokey Robinson, getting blessed by the Pope, getting stared down by Muhammad Ali.

And my job is me in another way — the extensive playing around with technique I do in my spare time led to one getting named after me, the “Brenizer method.” Thousands of photographers world-wide now have to struggle with pronouncing my last name. (I believe this is why it is so popular in Germany.)

But nothing has blessed or excited me as much as getting to share in and document well over 300 wedding days, documenting traditions from Andorran to Zimbabwean, embedded in networks of friends and families opening up their emotions in ways that are unthinkable on an average day. I've been lucky to tell the stories of so many extraordinary people, and pleased at the recognition my work has achieved. I have been named one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world for 2013 by American Photo and Rangefinder Magazine, among many other honors.

But what excites me most are the parts of this story I haven't lived yet, and the stories I have yet to tell. I'm just getting warmed up.