Featured Project: Wedding Photography
Having faced one of my fears recently by stepping out of my comfort zone and trying out a portrait photography session (which I wrote about last month in the blog post “Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone”). Once again, I have taken on another daunting challenge. I took on perhaps one of my biggest fears in photography…I shot my first wedding!
I have spoken with lots of different people in the photography world and many of them have said to me, “you have to shoot a wedding at least once. It’s one of the best learning opportunities in photography”. Initially, I thought no way, never in a million years! This was my absolute biggest fear. Wedding photography scares me to death. There is a lot happening all at once, wedding photography combines many different types of photography (product, portraits, candid, posed, close-ups, wide angle shots, group photography, many more portraits, etc.) I think the main reason why I was so terrified of wedding photography is because you cannot reshoot it. The day and the moments during that day only happen once and there are so many factors that can go wrong for a photographer. I would feel absolutely gutted if my photos didn’t turn out and the married couple were left without any images to look back on to remember their special day.
So how did this come about? A few months ago, a photographer friend recommended me for the job, and it was his daughter who was getting married. I received an email from the bride-to-be who reached out to ask if I would shoot her wedding in July. In the email she explained that she would only need me to shoot for a few hours, it would be a very small wedding on a farm in the countryside and she wanted some photos that were more artistic and not the typical traditional wedding shots, but basically, as long as the images were in focus, she was fine with whatever I took of the wedding. Her father (who is also a photographer) would be there and he was going to be taking photos too, but not during the ceremony as he was to give her away and he would also need to be in the group photos afterwards.
I was honoured to be asked, but also, at the same time I was scared out of my wits. I felt like this might be a case of taking on more than I could handle. Both my friend and his daughter spoke with me to answer any questions I had, and to put to rest any of my concerns. They offered encouragement and understood that I had zero experience with shooting weddings. My friend even invited me along as a second shooter to help take some of the engagement photos before the wedding, so that I could get to know the couple, get practice taking portraits and to get an idea of what they liked or disliked.
Before the wedding I asked the bride to put together a shot list of images she wanted to be taken during the wedding and she also listed a few words to describe the vibe, style or theme of the wedding to give me a sense of what she was going for. All the preparation that I did beforehand was a huge part of why it all went so smoothly. I also felt that if I followed the shot list she gave me, then I would be taking all the images she wanted, and therefore, she was more likely to be happy with the images I took.
Reflecting back on the whole experience I really lucked out! The newlyweds were a dream to work with and are some of the loveliest people you will ever meet. The circumstances of the wedding were ideal for my first wedding photography gig. The wedding was small, with family only. The ceremony, reception and the whole day took place on the farm at one location that was easy to find, and I was at ease knowing that I was among friends and not total strangers. Everyone was so polite and welcoming, they even insisted that I stay for dinner. I tried my absolute best with my photography, and I am pleased with many of the shots that I took from that day. I feel pretty good about my first attempt at wedding photography. Although I don’t know if I will do many more weddings.
On the other hand, it was a long day, the weather was hot and the whole project from start to finish was a long process. At the end of the wedding day I was exhausted, and I am sure so was everyone else who was there. I would have liked to have had a second photographer during the ceremony to get images at different angles of the same shots I was taking. I learned that group photography can be very challenging. It’s difficult to get everyone together and to all look at the camera at the same time so that you can take a decent photo. I thought that the kids would be difficult to work with for group photography, but they were all rock stars!
I discovered when taking photos during the wedding, it was difficult to get the angle I wanted, but it was more important to just capture the moment and not miss it completely. I also found it a bit tricky going from shooting outdoors to shooting inside a barn with artificial and natural light as the sun was going down while still trying to capture those special moments. I had to work and think fast – certainly faster than my usual pace.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for me was the editing process. I took over 2,000 photos at the wedding and it was hard to filter through them all and cut back the number of images, so that I could work from a smaller pool of imagery to then select even fewer images to do full proper edits on. This is an area that I definitely need to work on because I loved all the photos and I found it so hard to get rid of images.
One thing that I did not anticipate, was how rewarding it was to do something good for people who truly appreciate it. Also, I felt anxious and excited after handing over the digital files of my photography while I was waiting to hear back from the couple and their family to see what they thought of my work. I think if I continued to do wedding photography, like anything else, I would get better with practice and my confidence would improve too! A special thank you once again to the happy couple for trusting me with their wedding photography & for allowing me to share this experience and these images in this blog from such an important day. I hope they have many happy years together.