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Saturday, October 01, 2005
The Wedding Job
Wedding photos can be fun... They can also be blurry, underexposed, and "wreak the entire wedding".
A few years ago I bought a book called "Shooting Sex". It's a semi auto biography on one of my favorite photographers, Bob Carlos Clark. In it Clark tells how he gets advice from photographer and friend Terence Donovan. Never shoot on cameras that don't belong to you and don't do weddings.
I took that advice to heart. It would be like using a unknown computer before doing a presentation or playback and having some drivers missing. All those unknown variables. As for shooting weddings. My fear was the "You forgot to shoot uncle Luigi who flew all the way from Italy. Our wedding is ruined and it's all you fault!"
Although I've never heard of weddings that were totally ruined by a photographer, I have heard of photographers being totally ruined by weddings. An on set photographer once told me he would never do weddings. He'd rather die of starvation. Weddings can pay fairly well but they can also be the source of undo stress. You can also kiss all your weekends goodbye if you're any good.
A one time event where you as the photographer have to be on top alertness looking for those candid shots that will "last a lifetime". Like most photography subjects I suppose once you do enough of them you start to know what to look for and when it will happen. Still the fear of shooting a wedding has been ingrained in me since I picked up that book.
A few days ago, perhaps a week or so, Amanda a friend of Darryl's and photographer for the local Eye weekly magazine needed an assistant to shoot a wedding. She asked me if I wanted to help out. The fear of shooting weddings had suddenly melted away. As a secondary photographer you're still responsible for taking pictures but knowing there's someone else there to shoot the other "missed" angles is a big relief.
Also Amanda's previous wedding shooting experience makes an unknown known. No longer are you jumping into a black void feet first. You have someone that can light the way so to speak.
The first stop was the groom's parents house where the groom was getting ready. Due to poor map intel we were about 15 minutes late getting there. Amanda used yahoo to produce directions to the house. One of the streeets that is gave us didn't exist. The time alloted for shooting the groom's relatives was short to begin with. Only 45 minutes. On top of that the mom wanted us to shoot her house. All the rooms on the lower floor. Fortunately for us the groom was a lot more forgiving and easy going and shooed his mother away so we could concentrate on the "people" shots.
Then off to the bride's house. It was a way more relaxed environment. The bride seemed to be happy with anything we shot or tried to shoot. The mother did her best not to break out crying now that her girl was all grown up. It was very touching. I might have even gotten a picture from that.
The Vistek lens performed quite nicely about 50% of the time. The other 50% didn't go so well mainly because I had not put enough time fiddling with the lens beforehand. As a result there were a lot of blurry photos. In the end I took a few that were good but none that were really spectacular. Sure there's the odd baby shot that looks cute or the kid making faces, there might even be one shot of the bride and groom that looks okay. I'll have to play around some more though before going on another wedding shoot.
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I'd like to speak a twinge of advocacy for wedding photography. I've done it, both for people I didn't know and people I didn't like.
The people I didn't know, I treated it as a nice experience meeting new faces, and sticking a camera in them. I was mostly invisible, didn't talk much, but now and then I'd give a positional order, and it was always obeyed! Wow, the power.
The people I didn't like... Well, I have interesting stories to tell now. What is life without the interesting stories?
I've met or know wedding photographers who love it! Maybe it's the interesting stories or maybe they like the diversity of the "models" or maybe they like the money or maybe they just love special occassions. Who knows.
I've met them that hate it, too.
If you're ever looking for a wedding photographer, look for one who enjoys it, support those who love what they do!
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