Sunday, September 14, 2008

My first wedding

Baker Wedding-145-2Wedding photography freaks me out. It absolutely scares me. Weddings are extremely important events in the lives of a man and woman. Weddings are affairs filled with loving memories, laughter, friends, a bit of stress, maybe some wine, and general goodness. These are things you don't generally want to screw up for a newly married couple. This is the type of event where you don't get a second chance to take those photos again because you messed up.

I've been reading blogs of various wedding photographers on the 'net over the last few months to understand the things they encounter when shooting these important days. I've picked up a ideas and tips along the way, but nothing that would really make me feel comfortable going out on my own and attempting to make a living at it.

HandsA few months back, my coworker Greg announced that he and his girlfriend Tara were getting married. It was going to be a small wedding, mostly family and a few friends. A larger party would be held some time after the wedding for all of his friends to come and celebrate. A few weeks after announcing this, Greg asked me if I was interested in shooting the wedding. Talk about a deer-in-the-headlights moment. I needed a few days to think about it because of how important this was. That, and my fear about shooting this type of event kicked in almost immediately.

Baker Wedding-115-1Now, Greg is pretty familiar with my photography and knows that I'm a complete amateur at it. We ended up coming to an equitable understanding: I'd shoot the wedding with the understanding that he gets exactly what he gets and in return he purchases a piece of equipment for me. Sounded fair. He understood that I'd do my best and I'd get a bit of experience out of it and a TTL cord (that's what I really needed at this point). The TTL cord actually helped out quite a bit during the pre-wedding scenes inside the house. The wedding would take place outside in his backyard which had recently undergone a serious landscaping makeover.

GuitaristOn the day of the wedding, I got all spiffed up and headed to his place with all the gear I would need. I spent the first two hours shooting people as they mingled in the house, enjoying the wine and cheese that was set out. Greg introduced me to his friends as they came in and I got to chat a bit with the soon-to-be joined family.

Around sunset, I started setting up the flashes in the backyard trying to come up with a good crosslighting setup. The ceremony would occur up on a small burm that was centered in the yard and everyone would be seated on one side to watch. Wedding WineThe ceremony was originally scheduled to start at 6:30, but the decision was made to hold off until after the sun crept down behind some treetops because of how blinding it was where they would be standing. I was really glad about that because of how bad the hotspots would have been in the photos and I had no idea how to easily deal with them.

Once the procession started, I dropped back into full on picture-taking mode and began circling the entire scene, occasionally adjusting lighting positions, but mostly trying to give them a good set of photos to remember everything by. Everyone was seated, Greg and Tara were up on the burm and Jesse was officiating. Circle of FriendsThe ceremony went on for half an hour I guess. I really didn't keep track of time because I was too busy enjoying the scene from behind the lens. At one point, Jesse asked for everyone to join hands in a circle around the burm as a way to commemorate the marriage. I joined in momentarily and then slipped off after a few minutes to take some photos of it. This was one of those things I just couldn't miss taking for them.

Baker Wedding-169When the moment was finalized, everyone broke off for the reception and I did some more formal photos of Greg and Tara with various family and friends. These were the ones we agreed were "most important" to do. These were the ones I didn't want to screw up. We spent some time working on these and making sure we got all the ones they wanted. There was one photo that I wanted to retake of Greg and Tara, so I drug them off to a corner of the yard and had Greg dip and kiss here again. Got the photo, packed away most of my gear and retired to the reception.

Cutting the CakeDinner was a lovely brisket barbecue dinner and Greg invited me to join in and eat. And then there was cake. Lots and LOTS of cake. Enough cake that I took home a nice slab of both the Italian Cream cake and the Strawberry layered cake (both delicious, by the way).

Overall, it was a lovely ceremony and made me realize one thing: yes, it's definitely an important day but I shouldn't be so afraid of it. I learned a few things to keep in mind for future weddings (better attention to detail in some cases), Greg and Tara got a record of the event (that I hope they like!), and everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.


Steve said...

Very cool Travis. I'm going to be "2nd Shooter" for a wedding in November, so it was very helpful to read about your experience. Weddings scare me too.

bookgrl said...

Very cool. I'm shooting a friend's sister's wedding in March and I'm utterly terrified. But, the mother of the bride said I could show up with disposable cameras for all they care, so at least the pressure is only coming from myself!

Nicely done. :)