My first wedding – an insight into wedding photography and being prepared

I have been remiss! I admit it. There I was trying to do a blog on my photographic escapades once a week, and suddenly two weeks have passed. I am not that surprised about this of course, as time does tend to run away with me. I feel so stuck for time these days, with so many things going on. It’s difficult to know what should take priority. I write content for websites as well as do photography and at the moment I seem to be doing a lot of jobs for free. That is OK, I like bartering, but the problem is that they all seem to come in at once and all need finishing at once. I guess that is quite simply the nature of both photographic work as well as content writing. Perhaps it is the nature of all work.

Enough of that… what have I been doing, I hear you ask… Well, aside from the writing, I was lucky to have experienced my first ever wedding as a photographer. I can say that now that it is over and that most of the photos have been processed. I was not saying that at the time. To be honest, anyone who can shoot a wedding is to be highly commended in my book. Not only do some of these guys take the most amazing photos, but they seem to capture everything! I am full of admiration for them. I was second shooter for a friend of mine (who is a great photographer also based in the Taunton area), for the day, which suited me extremely well since it was my first wedding. To be honest, I think I prefer to be number two than number one, but time will tell. What did I like about it? what didn’t I like? Its easy really… I was using an external flash for the first time… I didn’t like not being prepared.Being prepared is the one thing you have to be for a wedding, and I was not in the slightest bit prepared. I really struggled with keeping the ISO low, as I tend to shoot with the ISO always being high… it feels safer to me. With a flash though, it was needed to be as high as the images would quite possibly blow out. I was also not able to get the Fstop setting as high as I wanted it (LOW…so confusing)… so a lot of the portrait style images that I like to take were not coming out with the blurry background that I like. It is actually just a matter of practising and since then I have read a fantastic blog post by a photographer that I now can’t remember, all about how to be prepared for a wedding. If only I had read that before. I absolutely think I was thrown head first into the wedding photography shoot and actually, learning on the job is no bad thing at all. I also had problems with my SD cards and my camera… I know that I will need a second camera for the next wedding or I just won’t feel comfortable at all. Imagine if one camera breaks! The fear of failure is so high, that actually anything you can do to make that fear seem a little less, has to be done. So that means, lots of different SD cards at the ready, a second camera, being prepared for rain, having an alternative and back up plan  in case of rain… even if that means 10 umbrellas at the ready! There is a lot to learn.

In terms of the photography itself and the subject matter, I also found out that I am personally very fond of close ups and  it being a wedding meant that I had to do quite a lot of full body shots. I struggled with getting the images that I wanted – or so I thought – at the time. One of the things that I thought I would hate was the posed photos at the end. Actually, these ones were great. I loved doing the family shots as I was getting all the in-between shots, before and after they were asked to stand and smile, and these have come out really well. I think if I was first shooter on these and having to direct the people in to place, I probably would not have enjoyed them as much. I also found that the posed photos at the beginning were the ones that were filling me with utter dread and they are still the ones that I am unsure about for the next wedding. This is all about confidence of course and nothing else. It is all about confidence. All of it. I consider myself quite creative, but because of the lack of practice and the lack of confidence, these parts of the wedding are the ones that worry me the most. I think I will have to practice on my 6 year old!

Was there anything I loved about it? As usual I loved meeting the people. I loved being a part of their very special day and I so enjoyed meeting all the members of their family and taking candids or snapshots of their friends enjoying themselves. I really loved that. I also really loved the learning process and I think that however painful a process of any kind might be, if it it teaches you something valuable then it has all been worthwhile.

I think that when you do something like a wedding, the adrenaline runs so high, for such a long time, that you well and truly come down to earth with a bump that evening or the next day. I felt like I was the worst photographer in the world, I had a crushing feeling of being incapable, of being a fraud, of selling myself as something that I really am not. I agonised over the technical aspects and wondered why on earth I even set myself up for the failure of this in the first place… needless to say, the next day was not a good day. However, a few days later, some post processing of the images, some good shots found, and I started to feel a bit happier about what I was ending up with. I am not saying that the images, all 240 of them are amazing… they are not. But, in between the OK’s, there are a few gorgeous ones lurking. I wish I could post them, but of course, the bride is the one who should see them first. She wants to do wine and nuts (haha, she meant nibbles but it came out ‘nuts’) to view the images before the boys get to see them. I can’t wait. I am actually quite proud of some of them, and I have to say, that at all times the bride and groom looked absolutely gorgeous.  Just stunning. A really wonderful couple and it was such a pleasure to be allowed to photograph them. What an honour.

I have post processed the images, but I have not retouched them… this is a recurring question with me… I don’t want to do too much retouching as I believe the day should be recorded as it was… not as we would like it to have been. Many will no doubt disagree as perhaps they think it is all about getting the right image… I am not sure about that. I think it is about recording memories… what do you think? There is no right or wrong answer here I think.

I shall leave you with that thought. I would highly value your opinion as a photographer or a bride that was or a bride to be.

Thanks for reading! My next post will be all about photographing water and puddles – we have had a lot lately!

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