For about half of my childhood, my dad worked a side hustle as a wedding photographer.
I can’t even count the number of weddings I went to, just to tag along so I could help carry his camera gear. But mostly I just wanted to see all the pretty dresses.
Trips after school to the big city to get film developed or pick up enlargements were the norm.
Instead of story books or TV, I would spend hours pouring over his wedding photography books, photos and videos.
I’ve only been at this photography thing seriously now for just under six months, and though I have definitely learned a ton, I still feel like an imposter. Good shots still fill me with delight because it’s still a surprise when I get a really good one.
So I was a little surprised when I got a message from my well-known photographer friend who was in a pinch, asking if I’d like to be second shooter for a wedding the upcoming weekend.
I thought he was joking.
For one thing, he’s been doing this for over twenty years. Letting a newbie in would certainly tarnish his reputation.
After assuring me I would not in fact risk ruining his career if I screwed up, I agreed to do the photos for the groom prep… And spent the next five days learning everything I could find on YouTube about wedding photography.
Looks easy enough, I totally got this…
Wedding #1: S & B
Until Friday, the day of the wedding. I think the last time I was more nervous than that was when I had surgery to remove a melon-sized lump, not knowing if it was cancerous or not (it wasn’t).
But if you’re not doing something regularly that scares you a little, you’re not really living, so off I went.
Turns out my indoor shooting skills, as well as assertiveness and knowing how to tell people what to do, still has much to be desired. But the guys were great and I muddled through it somehow.
I know now at least 17 things I could do better… but that’s how you learn, right?
The rest of the day I got to tag along and just take extra shots for fun.
Most of the afternoon I used my super heavy bird-stalking lens so I could get all the shots from far away and not be in everyone’s face…. Apparently I need to do a bit more weight training. A week later my arm, back and shoulder is still sore.
So exhausting but so fun! Though I’ve never actually done wedding photos myself before, everything else about it seemed so familiar, even though it’s been decades.
But there was little time to rest, for the next wedding day would soon be here…
Wedding #2: N & A
I had already known about the Saturday wedding for several months. I was to be the piano player and self-designated second shooter here just to get extra practice.
I wish I could say I did this on purpose in an attempt to get a cool panning effect, but it was totally an accident. The groom was jumping across the creek and I wasn’t ready so my setting were all wrong and my camera moved while trying to get the action on time. But I think it’s super fun!!
A bridesmaid’s kids keeping themselves entertained during photos.
Photographer in Action
It doesn’t seem right that wedding albums are full of gorgeous photos of the bridal party, family, guests, and all the details of all the things, but there is rarely evidence of the person who, I would argue, works the hardest on a wedding day.
So I fixed it.
Behold a photographer in his natural habitat…
I understand now why photographers charge as much as they do. It’s a really hard job that takes a lot of skill to do well and they have to be ON all. day. long. Besides all the posed shots, every important hug, kiss, speech, toast, whatever, they have to be there. Never mind all the prep and editing afterwards. It’s worth every penny.
The monkey dance to make the kids smile is just a bonus… He says it’s for the kids, but you can see he’s totally in his element.
Thanks for letting me tag along with you, E. I’m so honoured to get to learn from one of the best!