July 11, 2013

Wedding Photographer Misconceptions Part II: Weddings are Easy.

If you missed part I (we just point & shoot), please read it HERE first, it applies to reading this post!*

Weddings aren’t that much work for photographers, right? I mean, it’s just a few hours of using a camera, after all? Getting paid to take photos of beautiful people & details, that sounds like a DREAM job!!

Well, hopefully you’ve learned  from the previous post that ‘using the camera’ isn’t so simple really. Now imagine just doing that part alone, for about 8 hours straight. With a TON of pressure on you. Because unlike normal photoshoots, a wedding can’t be redone. Especially the ceremony, or the first kiss! You have that one moment (literally, if the couple does just a quick peck) to capture it…no pressure!  ;)

So let me explain some of the things I mean by a ton of pressure.

1. As the photographer, we often arrive during the getting ready….which also happens to usually be running late. It’s just the way it is, which is why I love working with my brides before the wedding on the timeline to try to add some ‘cushion’ time. If there is no event planner hired….we partly become that, at least schedule-wise. Trying to keep everything on time as much as possible, so that we have that needed time later for bridal party photos, and bride & groom photos. Because we know that that’s what will get gipped out of time later, otherwise. So we are constantly checking the time, adjusting the schedule in our minds, trying to squish in the time for a First Look, estimate how much time will be needed for family photos, while remembering to capture every important little detail of the day. All while actually taking photos of the getting ready, and looking calm on the outside to keep the bride from freaking out, when things are an hour behind schedule…

2. This is the BIG one. Remember all those camera settings we have to set & constantly adjust? Let’s say it is bride & groom portraits time. Well, they’re ready & awaiting your command, because of course most couples aren’t practiced models & haven’t often been in front of a camera, if ever, so they don’t know how to pose & are probably perhaps a bit nervous. So they’re just staring at you, waiting expectantly, and it’s up to YOU (being the professional after all) to help them relax and feel natural, to get pictures where they aren’t all stiff. So you talk to them trying make them feel more comfortable, and then you start to walk them into a pose. Now this pose didn’t just come out of nowhere, it came out of your brain which had to think about it during the talking. And guess what? In less than half a minute this pose will be captured & over, and you have to have another READY, or there’ll be an awkward silence while you’re thinking about what to do next. And again, and again, and again, and again. You also have to be thinking of the location you’re going to next, and what poses would work in that spot. Also, talking to the couple during the time that you’re getting the settings & exposure in camera, which can sometimes be a few seconds, or again it can be awkward for them. When you’re doing this for half an hour or an hour (it’s also the same for an engagement session), you have to come up with a lot of poses, things to chat about, ways to make them feel comfortable, specific spots to shoot in, while keeping in mind how much time you have left, how much space on your memory card is left, switching lenses for different poses, & those darn ever-changing settings.

Trust me, it’s a LOT to think about, all at the SAME time. Multi-tasking in your brain, at it’s finest. Talk about brain mush after…

3. We have to be ON and READY at all times. As someone who shared my first post said “you must know what you are doing at all times on such a special day that goes way to fast.” We’re non-stop anticipating & capturing special moments, being the encyclopedia of questions for the bride & groom (where exactly does the boutonniere go? Which leg does the garter go on?), making sure we capture every detail of the day (running to get the detail shots, cocktail hour, ring shots), be sticking to the schedule or trying to catch the schedule up to time, we have to be ready to inform, direct, pose people, calm a stressed bride, quickly figure out challenging lighting situations (such as a bride’s getting ready room which has no windows & yellow light, and somehow create magic for beautiful getting-ready photos), direct our second shooter where to go, set up lightstands (if needed) & our off-camera flash….just to name a few!

4. We basically never. sit. down. For 6-12 hours, depending how long we’re hired for. We’re running around almost the entire time. I’ll get into this one more on my next post in this series though  :)

5. We’re lugging around a heavy camera bag full of lenses, for many of those hours. Also, try holding 3 to 5.5 pounds (depending on which lens is on the camera) up to your face steadily for most of those hours! Almost every time the day after a wedding, I’m trying to convince hubby that I need an hour-long professional massage. I’ve heard SO many photographers talk about how it feels like they got run over by a truck, the day after a wedding. Now imagine, doing back-to-back weddings on a weekend?? I purposefully don’t book those very often, for that very reason. Even for destination/travel weddings…I usually give myself a day to recover before: getting up at a ridiculous time, stressing to remember everything & catch a flight, & sitting on an uncomfortable plane for a few hours  ;) Wouldn’t you?

6. If there’s circumstances that put even more pressure, or just make the day harder or more stressful. Such as: a pushy family member, a VERY crunched timeline, groomsmen that don’t want to co-operate (AKA are drunk. Thankfully I’ve only been hit on by a drunk groomsman once, and it was while I was second shooting not the main photographer). This is all just the fun & games ON TOP of a normal wedding  ;)

7. This one’s not as big a deal, but it’s still something we’re constantly thinking about & trying to watch ourselves on during the ceremony: having to try to blend in & not be a distraction. It’s a very fine line. Because we want these photos to be amazing, and capture everything beautifully. This can be hard, from the way back of the Church. We want to capture the full expression on your face when you’re looking at your soon-to-be-spouse and they stumble on a word in a very cute way, or your tears during your personal vows. Toeing that fine line is hard indeed.


These all apply a bit differently to all wedding photographers (we all have our own ways of shooting…imagine if you’re a film shooter, even more equipment to carry around, plus constantly changing your film!), but I think I got most of the common ones. Wedding photographers, feel free to comment with some more reasons weddings are not easy.  :)


Stay tuned for Wedding Photographer Misconceptions Part III: We don’t need a meal.


*Photo thanks to Dwayne Larson, my second shooter at this wedding in Winnipeg, Canada.

*PS: to my brides, sorry but my hair won’t always be that fancy! This was for my cousins wedding where I was the main photographer, as well as a bridesmaid!! (And a mom to a nursing 3.5 month old, who also only slept 2-3 hours spurts all night at that time). Talk about a long (14-hour), juggling-everything day. This was just pre-ceremony & I changed into my bridesmaid dress later  :)


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