Graceless Captures: Wedding Photography Woes

I’ve been helping my friend photograph weddings. I like doing them, they are fun, challenging, and excellent practice. But bless my OWN heart, I am about as physically coordinated as a beached Blobfish. They are a lot of hard work, and physically demanding. I remember someone said, “But you’re just taking pictures, how is that tiring?” Yes, you are. And to take those pictures, you have to MOVE. You don’t just stand there and press a button. You are carrying heavy, expensive equipment in a bag, on your shoulder, in your pockets, around your neck, and running around, sometimes crawling/crouching/sitting everywhere, following the party like paparazzi… And moving FAST, because if you don’t, you might miss something. Your job is to capture it… ALL of it. After all, these are someone’s memories.

I’ve done some weddings solo in the past when I was a starving student, but I had to give it up. It was just about more than I could handle by myself. Too much stress, not enough money. I’ve quoted people absolute steals of prices for weddings and they have refused, saying it’s “too much money”. I want to scream at them… You have NO IDEA how hard they are… how much skill, patience, stamina, physical exertion, stress, and talent it takes to shoot one.

It’s a nerve-racking experience, and from what I’ve noticed, most of the wedding parties are all about the same:

1. The bride’s Mom is running around going crazy

2. The groom’s Mom is running around going crazy

3. The bride’s Dad is laughing and joking 

4. The groom’s Dad is laughing and joking

5. The groomsmen are all sweaty, uncomfortable and complaining

6. The bridesmaids are all sweaty, uncomfortable and complaining

7. The flower girl is no where to be found/asleep/pouting/uncooperative

8. The ring bearer is no where to be found/asleep/pouting/uncooperative

9. The groom is a nervous wreck

10. The bride is exhausted and is about one more demand from her breaking point

As a photographer, you don’t just wear one hat. In a perfect world, you think you are just going to take pictures. You’re not. You serve as a psychologist, therapist, server, carrier, mover, locator, teacher, conductor, hand maiden, bringer of things, taker of things, organizer and planner. You are the person who is beside the bride generally from start-to-finish, so you see it all go down. ALL of it. These are people you may have never met in your life, and you hear the dirty details backstage, and witness all of the drama first-hand.

There are 3 things we always wish for before a wedding ceremony:

1) good light!!!! — we PRAY For this…

2) a pretty wedding — for pretty pictures

3) NO DRAMA… 

Usually you can get 2 of your wishes, if you’re lucky. But you’re bound to get 1 that goes awry.

I can say that the last wedding we shot was beautiful. I loved all of it, the colors, the flowers, the clothes, the setup, the photogenic and cooperative wedding party, the location. The light could have been more desirable (it was FULL sun during ceremony), but hey, you can’t have it all.BUT… after running around for a couple hours, your legs start feeling rubbery and you’re concentration is fading… and that is where things go wrong.

The wedding was set up with a large tent with guest tables and chairs under it for supper. The buffet was located inside a building right next to the tent, and it backed up to a porch. A porch with uneven terrain (i.e., steps). In my haste to run and take pictures of the food before it was picked over, I failed to notice a step and put one foot forward off of the edge and fell at a 90 degree angle, directly to the ground, in front of everyone sitting under the tent.

Two thing went through my mind: OMG MY CAMERA and OMG WHO SAW ME. The camera was fine, luckily the lens hood took the brunt of the impact. I got up quickly, dusted myself off. No one could be seen laughing hysterically, so I assumed they didn’t notice. But maybe they aren’t as rude as I am… cause I know I would have damn sure laughed if I had seen it.

Artist’s rendition of the event:

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Luckily the only thing that was severely damaged was my ego… my knees escaped with bad bruising and minor skin abrasions.

Don’t worry, I won’t quit weddings, and despite my injury, I don’t regret helping Victoria shoot that one at all. In hindsight, it was a ton of fun… and at least not now, as long as I am working with a partner I will continue to shoot. Weddings keep you on your toes (and sometimes on your ass)… and it’s all about the art, anyway… right?

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