Monday, June 18, 2012

first wedding: lessons learned

 

My longtime friend Jenny got married this past weekend, and I got to be her secondary photographer. I’m so so so so so thankful for the opportunity to get wedding experience without the stress of being the primary photographer! I learned so much in those four hours, including…

(1) Getting-ready shots are so. much. fun.

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This is where you just get to be a fly on the wall. Your job is to capture the atmosphere, the feel of what it was like to get ready for the wedding. Of course, the room where all this hairstyling was taking place was really small, so I wished I was the size of a fly on the wall most of the time…

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You get to watch everyone else at work. Jackie did an incredible job on the bride’s hair, and various other ladies helped with bridesmaids’ hair and makeup. Everybody had a job.

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(2) The wedding dress is just as much a member of the dramatis personae as anyone.

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It hangs in the doorway silently, waiting. Its presence is impossible to ignore. Everyone knows that it’s the final aspect of the masterpiece called the bride.

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(3) Speed is essential, and the wedding coordinator is your best friend.

Fast lens changes. Fast manual focus. Fast settings alterations. Everything has to be done fast. These are moments that cannot, will not be repeated; there are no replays. That’s why the photographer is necessary: to capture what will never come back.

This is also why you love whoever is in charge of coordinating the wedding schedule. They tell you where you need to be and when so you don’t find yourself taking bridal party portraits five minutes before the ceremony is supposed to start. (Thanks, Linda!!)

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(4) Secondary shooting is a great time to learn various group and single posing techniques for portraits.

Because I was the secondary shooter, these were taken over the shoulder of the primary shooter—not always from the exact angle I would have wanted, but what matters was that I learned how to pose a bride or a group fast. (Thank you for letting me follow you around, Liz!)

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(5) A high-end, extremely versatile low-light lens with an ample zoom range would be a really nice thing to have.

For one thing, alternating between three different lenses requires time, hassle, and carrying way too much stuff around. For another, when your only low-light lens is a 50mm f/1.8, the wedding party portraits and ceremony pictures are really tough. So the next time I happen upon a large sum of money, this is what I’m going to do with it!

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(6) Shooting doesn’t end when the pastor says “Man and wife.”

The reception needs to be captured as well—cutting the cake, giving toasts, the first dance, etc. The light was pretty dim and zoom wasn’t imperative, so I used my 50mm f/1.8 for these.

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And most importantly:

(7) I love wedding photography.

My former high school principal says the same thing at every graduation ceremony: “Find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” This is what I love. I love the wedding atmosphere, the rush, the knowledge that I’m capturing memories. I didn’t do everything right or capture every shot the way I wanted to, but I came away knowing more about people, my camera, and my love of photography.

Finally, my very favorite pictures from the wedding:

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Congratulations, James and Jenny!

6 comments:

  1. The pictures are beautiful! Jenny makes such a beautiful bride!

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  2. you did a great job... and with any sort of event you need to not be afraid to get in front of people... quickly get the shot and move... and remember shutter speed can help in low light...as well as iso... I think ya did super...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. Whoa, a veil-covered dress!

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  4. Hallie these pictures are amazing seeing them made me cry again! Lol I am such a cry baby but they made me remember just how perfect that day was. Thank you so much and I hope you do many more weddings because many more couples would love to have you for their photographer.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked them :) I enjoyed myself so much and your wedding was beautiful!

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  5. Hallie, You are gifted in writing and photography. A pleasure to see your work and read your writing!

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