Damian and Linda's Photography
Shining Happy People
Weddings are fabulous. Such a celebration of everything good about being alive - people who love each other and their families coming together to celebrate their union.
Weddings are planned with military precision and are a rollercoaster day of anticipation, stress, things not quite according to plan but working round them anyway, absolute joy and aching faces from smiling more than you ever thought possible.
Be in no doubt, photographing weddings is a privilege and not a burden. But like any privilege, it comes with a cost. And the biggest single cost is that you need to Take It Seriously.
Be sure of your gear. Charge your battery. Get a spare and charge that too. Have more than enough memory cards. Have a solution to download some of those cards onto a laptop in case you haven't got more than enough. Have a protocol to foolproof which cards you blank and which you don't. Don't be casual about any of it.
When I photographed weddings for money, I had spare everything. Overlapping lenses in case one got damaged. A spare camera body. A spare laptop. Chargers for everything. A strobe and a spare strobe. New batteries on the day for anything that wasn't rechargeable (strobes, remote triggers, that sort of thing). I also cleaned my sensor.
I started working long before the day to ensure the album did justice to all the plans that were laid. Didn't know the Bride was arriving from the other direction? Your fault. Didn't know it was really important to get a shot of terminally ill uncle with the bride? Your fault. Didn't know... you get the idea.
I used to start without the camera and learn a little about the characters, passions and tastes of the Bride & Groom, making sure that I didn't take candid pictures when they wanted formal or get shouted at by the Mother of the Bride for photographing her bad side.
After that I would have a "trial" photo shoot where I would take pictures of the couple as I would any other adults. It got them confident at being photographed and also allowed me to learn what sort of images they like and dislike of themselves. These sessions were informal and huge fun and strongly reflected the couple's personalites and affection.
The trial shoot allowed all sorts of things. For Matt and Tina, for example, she used some of the shots to hep her decide how she wanted her hair on the day. For most people, being the focus of photography on the day is a bit daunting because most people don't like photos of themselves. Showing them some good photos gives them confidence, which in turn makes them relax on the day as you hold your camera up to take pictures. It's a win-win and definitely worth the time. I would typically sell some shots from the engagement shoots, too - but that wasn't my motivation.
Shortly before the day, a final consultation with the Bride and Groom made sure I understood the priorities for the day, whether they are "storyboarded" shots to narrate the day, less formal "reportage" style photographs or some combination of the two. This left everyone confident and clear on the day to ride the rollercoaster.
The day itself would typically start pretty early with the "Bride, dressing" shots and some shots of the groom's party before the wedding. This is the most difficult bit of the day logistically because of the timing and (usually) physical separation between Bride and venue. Then it was on to the venue for shots of the venue itself, flowers on pews, etc - it's important to capture all the contributions that go into a wedding. I would also take this time to speak to whoever was performing the service if I hadn't spoken to them already. I was always very deferential to their rules and regulations, which often defused any tension. Apart form one really grumpy registrar, but I had the sense she was grumpy with everyone.
Once that was all done, it was time to wait for the Bride to arrive. The longest I waited was about 50 minutes past the planned time. It happened more than once.
Again there is a bit of a frenzy because you want to capture the Bride's arrival and the little moment they have with whoever is giving them away, then get into the venue fast to capure the entrance of the Bride and also the Groom's reaction.
In the service proper, when I started doing wedding photography the cameras weren't all that impressive in low light, so I took to processing all the photos in the service itself into black and white, which with certain noise reduction techniques helped them look less, well, noisy. Keep in mind that flash photography during a service is pretty intrusive and largely to be avoided.
After the service comes the bit everyone dreads, the formal group shots. Again some preparation is helpful here. By the day of the wedding you should already have a list of shots in your pocket and have identified a wrangler - often an usher with a strong personality - to get the right people into place. Keep in mind when you are shooting these groups that you are the last thing between them and the food. So be accurate, be funny, be quick.
Once these are done you are pretty much home and dry. The rest of the day is a varying level of reportage depending on how you have set expectations. Personally I used to go on a lot further, covering the Wedding Breakfast speeches and the typical evening reception if there was one. I would use the time when the Wedding Breakfast was being served to load up the pictures onto the laptop and do a first cut selection and developing. For the evening service I would have a monitor running the slideshow - making sure the bride and groom were the first to see it off to one side - to allow evening guests who had missed the service to get some sense of the day. It was unfailingly well received.
I used to post web galleries, take orders for prints by email (all a bit manual) and then get the couple to select pictures on their return from honeymoon. I would suggest aiming for about 60 pictures, but not to worry if it was anywhere between about 40 and 90. Sarah would design my albums for a flat fee and I would get them printed at Queensberry in Australia, which were always top notch.
Your mileage may vary with any and all of my suggestions. But I often got repeat or referred business, so I think it was fine.
© 2006 Damian Harty. Design by Andreas Viklund.