Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to photograph my first Wedding. As a Studio Portrait Artist I am used to working in a controlled environment of lighting and subject. Photographing an event such as a Wedding pushed me into a completely new realm.
Here are my 1st Wedding notes:
PREPARATION is key. I had about a month to prepare and I used every bit of that month. I purchased several Wedding Photography online classes and researched well known Wedding Photographers techniques, gear, mindset. The videos allowed me to see where best to position myself during the ceremony, to be confident and get in there to get the tight shots and to ask the right pre-wedding questions such as "what access do I have during the ceremony?" A lot of pastors are concerned with the intimacy of the ceremony and would prefer the Photographer to be further away. Its always best to ask the pastor and the couple what access you will have.
A big part of the preparation is MENTAL. I spent the entire month building up my confidence with daily positive thinking and affirmations. "I have quality gear" "I am an experienced photographer" "I am preparing myself with skills and tools to succeed" "I am a professional." It is critical to believe in and trust your abilities.
Photographing a Wedding is very PHYSICAL. You are in constant motion for about 5 hours or longer. I prepared by doing daily Yoga and taking long walks. I practiced various exercises such as lunges and squats. I wanted to condition myself to be able to keep up with the pace.
GEAR - the big question! There is a lot of information about the best Wedding Photography lenses. What I learned is that it just depends upon what kind of images you want to convey. 35mm are great for a documentary feel. 24-70 is a general consensus best lens for the Ceremony. 85mm 1.8 is great for formal Portraits. I decided to use my 24-105 f4 throughout the entire Wedding process and use a flash for the indoor reception. I made this decision because I am very comfortable and familiar with what this lens can do. I am used to how it feels on my camera and given that this was my first wedding I didn't want any surprises.
Yes I was over prepared, I had extra 16gb formatted CF cards, a back up camera with extra SD cards. Several lens just in case. Extra charged camera batteries and extra speed light batteries.
And although I didn't need the extra batteries, backup camera or other lenses there was a moment right after the Ceremony when everyone was hugging and congratulating the bride and groom when my camera stopped taking photos because my CF card was FULL! Since I had prepared I had a second CF card tucked inside a pocket on my camera strap and I was able to exchange CF cards quickly and keep shooting. It was actually a very cool Photographer moment. (smile)
Since I mentioned it, I have a Black Rapids single sling camera strap and I feel it is a MUST when it comes to shooting a Wedding or event. It slings over your shoulder and across your chest and your camera hangs at your side so you can be hands free. I carried my camera for a good 5 hours plus and the sling is so comfortable, it really disperses the camera weight.
For one month I physically and mentally prepared, educated myself on Wedding Photography, lined up the right equipment and over prepped my gear.... Damn, now I had to actually Photograph the Wedding!
I believe the most important part of Photographing a Wedding is to have a 2nd shooter! No question, I would never shoot another wedding without a 2nd Photographer. There is absolutely no other way you can capture all of those incredibly important, touching moments. I was fortunate to have an experienced 2nd shooter, Photographer Betsy Gillies. Betsy was amazing, professional, creative, workable and I loved working with her. We were able to divide up the work which allowed me to focus on the Shots list (main images couple requests) and allowed Betsy to take some amazing creative images.
One final 1st Wedding note: Retouching. After all the preparation and then Photographing the Wedding there is a long period of "Retouching Isolation." I retouched images from 9 a .m.-10 p.m. for a full 7 days working straight through the weekend. It was important for me to be able to show and give the bride and groom their Wedding images as soon as they returned from Honeymoon.
I must mention how wonderful the bride and groom and their families were to me and Betsy! It was a really great wedding, everyone had a fabulous time and it's because of all the families & friends hard work, thoughtful planning and LOVE that they put into the wedding process.
Would I do it again? I really feel it was a successful, positive experience and I am very glad I got the opportunity. For now, I want to get back into my studio.
I do want to promote Betsy Gillies as a wonderful, reliable, creative and professional Wedding Photographer. She loves photographing Weddings and it shows in her moments captured.
1st slideshow Photographer Betsy Gillies. (Click on images to scroll gallery)
2nd slideshow Photographer Gina Zhidov. (Click on images to scroll gallery)