Earlier this month, my husband and I photographed a gorgeous wedding of two friends of his. They are a great couple – and resourceful too. All of the vendors, other than the venue and the food, were friends or family of the bride and groom. The groom’s mother made the stunning and intricately decorated cake (see above, she is a fondant genius), the groom’s dad stepped in to design the flower centerpieces, a bridesmaid helped out with bridal makeup, and a relative officiated. Oh, and we photographed the entire thing, from the bride and groom getting ready to the cake cutting and first dance. That’s nine hours of being on your feet with a heavy 5D (my husband also used a rented 40D).
Since it was our first time, I thought I’d share some of the things we learned:
-On a super bright day, don’t shoot your formal portraits with the sky as a background. I’m not sure if it was the bright light or the lens my husband was using, but he pointed out that in some photos, everyone looked like a one-dimensional cardboard cutout.
-Check your ISO, check your ISO, check your ISO. It’s painful to look at the setting on photos taken in bright light for the first part of the day and to wonder when you got to the point where you realized you were shooting at an ISO of 500. Luckily these shots were mostly in raw, so they could be salvaged.
-Study up on some nice couples’ poses beforehand, but also let the bride and groom improvise. Sometimes poses work, and sometimes they feel unnatural.
-Photography (especially with professional-caliber cameras and zoom lenses) is a physical endeavor. I was sore for a few days afterward, not to mention exhausted and dehydrated the day of. It’s easy to get swept up in the moment and to think that you need to be on all the time, but plan the day so that you can take breaks to drink and eat.
-Two is better than one. Even though he understands a huge amount more than I do about photography, I’d like to think he wasn’t just flattering me when my husband said that he couldn’t have photographed the wedding without me. My being there allowed him to take a much-needed break, as well as to capture some candid moments that he couldn’t have snapped while he was busy setting up equipment for the formal shots. Additionally it was helpful to have two sets of eyes for posing the bride and groom portraits, and a partner around for moral support.
I am the most amateur of amateur photographers (I took a class in high school and sometimes like to absorb some of my husband’s photography-speak) but I managed to have a fantastic time. Perhaps it was my low expectations and my awe of the power of professional equipment, but I felt like we got some great shots and covered most of the bases. I also earned a new respect for people in this business, and understand why photographers who develop a great style can charge a gazillion dollars. It’s hard work to be in the right place at the right time AND to try to be invisible. I’m sure I annoyed a few people, but certain shots (like when the mothers of the bride and groom walked in from the lawn at dusk with their arms around each other, beaming and clearly sharing a moment of connection and pride in their kids) seem to make it worth it.