I am writing this, sitting in a bar on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. My husband is watching the footy, while we ignore the rain pounding outside and wait until our train home is due.

We love Edinburgh, although haven’t been hugely lucky with the weather on our trips here. The last time we visited we were newly married and escaping away for a brief honeymoon. Trouble was, it was the start of the Big Monsoon of ‘07, and we spent much of the time in pubs willing the rain to cease. Sitting in pubs wasn’t a bad thing altogether, although we had hoped to see more of this beautiful city. We managed to see some of Edinburgh Castle but due to said rain it was rather miserable; but at least we went home 3 days later having done something other than drink and relish in newlywedness.

This time we’re in Edinburgh because I had work yesterday. I shoot weddings sometimes, I’d like to shoot weddings more than sometimes (especially for Deaf people) but a Photography Business takes time and work to build. The wedding yesterday was absolutely beautiful. It was in some caves partly underground and partly dug out of a huge stone bridge. Dark and mysterious, I found it a little unnerving in places but it suited the couple getting married down to a T due to it’s uniqueness and fun indifference.

The reason for this post? Well, I knew that the wedding would be a huge challenge from a photographer’s point of view due to the extreme low light. But what I didn’t think of, was not only would the low light also mean lip-reading would be harder, but I completely forgot that the people of Scotland have, well, a Scottish Accent.

The couple themselves, were absolutely fantastic with me. They already knew that I was Deaf, and they are one of the loveliest couples I’ve ever met, having communicated by e mail for several months, I knew I’d get on well with them. Obviously madly in love with each other, and extremely excited to be married. It was such a lovely ceremony, and their friends and family all friendly and fun. I cannot WAIT to share their photos with them. I must thank them for their patience with me though, fabulously understanding and humorous, they really helped me feel that I wasn’t being a pain with my struggles to get past their accent in the dark rooms of the caves.

I did struggle though, to understand the broad Scottish accent spoken by people I’ve met whilst visiting this beautiful city. It’s never easy to understand accents, but I did wonder why I was finding the Scottish one harder than normal. It could be the dialect rather than the accent. But I also think I’m not familiar with the Scottish accent as well as I might be with others. My day job, being in Birmingham which has inhabitants with nationalities from all over the world gives me experience in understanding a huge range of accents but at least in those situations, I’m in a quiet office with a one to one scenario and pieces of paper at hand.

In the city of Edinburgh, especially in a venue with music and chatter in the background, I was never going to find it easy was I? I don’t think it’d have been any different if I had been talking with a couple from Egypt, Mexico or Timbuktu. I must remember this in the future, and perhaps mention it to the venue or couple in advance. Not that it’s hugely necessary, but it perhaps will make me feel more at ease knowing they understand.

It does frustrate me though. I so WISH I didn’t feel like I was weird. I know I’m not (ok, perhaps a little but, but not lack of hearing related 😉 ) but I constantly feel like I’m coming across as strange.

I nod my head a lot, I smile sweetly at the times I hope is right. I keep my eyes open for body language that gives me clues. It’s either this, or spend the whole day asking people to repeat things up to five times before I give in. I read a really good post the other day, about being Deaf and our pretty amazing eye for clues given away by body language to help us out. There are often times when I see Hearing people wonder if I am really as Deaf as I claim, because I understood what they said or wanted. Well – body language and coming to conclusions as a result of interpreting it, has a LOT to say for. You can read Deafinitely Girly’s blog post about body language here. Body Language did help me yesterday, I saw the Father of the Bride looking out for the Bride’s arrival, and he ran up the path shouting something. I guessed the Bride had arrived, I didn’t hear a thing he was saying but considering I knew what he was looking out for, and considering his pointing gestures, nods, waving his phone in his hand – there was only one thing it could be couldn’t there?

I think in recent months I’ve been getting rather frustrated at my Deafness and I wasn’t sure why. I’ve been Deaf for my entire life. I’ve never known not being Deaf. I’ve never known being able to understand anybody without looking at them, or following the television without subtitles. It’s completely normal to me to be Deaf. But why have I been getting frustrated by it?

I don’t mean frustrated by being Deaf – that’s something that is just me and I’m fine with – Hey I live and breathe Deaf. I mean being frustrated at my deafness and the struggles that come with it and I think it comes down to business.

Which is why I struggled yesterday and found myself wishing I wasn’t Deaf yet again. It’s so rare for me to wish this, incredibly rare and I feel almost disloyal to my identity and the Deaf community wishing this ever so rarely often, but whereas I had a great day and loved everything about it as far as taking photographs is concerned, not being able to understand people easily generally, not being able to hear the humanist minister conducting the ceremony so to know when to get ready for the ring/kiss shot, not understanding the banter during the speeches so to know when to get the laughter pictures or pick up on conversation between staff discussing what was happening next made it hard and this on top of the difficulties I have at following at networking events which is a huge part of the Wedding Industry these days, makes having a Photography Business when you’re Deaf quite a lonely hard slog.

It’s all worth it though. Seeing my beautiful bride and handsome groom yesterday, shooting their special day and viewing the pictures afterwards makes it all worthwhile. I am very proud of my little business, I’m hoping I’ll go far. For now, I’ll cope with being a little bit weird, sometimes being a little bit weird helps that creative eye 😉 and I need to remember that.

So I’ll leave you now to enjoy my Magners (isn’t that Irish?) in my Scottish pub with my very English husband to make the most of our time left in this rainy part of town. I will probably speak to some more Scottish people before we make our leave by train 6.5 hours south and there will be a lot of “Pardon’s” said but what I’m going to remember is that it may be difficult for me to understand, but an accent makes somebody belong somewhere and provides identity and perhaps I need to explain more often why I’m finding it hard. Hopefully they’ll recognise my accent to be Midland with a twang of Brummie after all, next to being Deaf that’s who I am too 🙂