If you read any of my posts, you will note that I have done a reasonable amount of wedding photography. I like the work, but I too find it very demanding.
You may be bringing the wrong "lens" to the evaluation of your photography at the wedding.
Weddings are events and celebrations. When you photograph a wedding, you always hope to come up with a few photographs that you and others might want to enlarge and put in a big frame on the wall somewhere, but in my mind that is not the main reason to have someone photographing a wedding who knows what they are doing.
Instead, you want photographs that, even though they might be 8x10s, 5x7s or even just 4x5s, in an album amongst many others, they effectively tell the story, and capture the feel of a special occassion.
I consider the best compliment to me and my work is when I can tell that my clients (or friends) look regularly through my photos, share them with others, and enjoy them and the memories they invoke. That tends to occur when the photographer is both technically competent and, more importantly, attuned to the people involved, including their likes and sensibilities.
It's also nice as well, when they buy more.
I've been at a few weddings, where the photographer exhibited no sense of identification with those involved - they were just firing away, probably according to a formula. I didn't see anything that would likely result in anything more than an uninteresting record of the event.
I understand you when you say that you found it exhausting - it can be very demanding. I suggest though that you ask yourself whether you also found the experience (in particular your interaction with your friends and the events of their special day) enjoyable or inspiring. My sense is that you probably did, and it is quite likely that your photographs will reflect that enjoyment or inspiration.
Thank you for your thoughtful response - I appreciate it, as always.
Did I find it enjoyable, rewarding? Well... I think not being a pro - and thus not used to the pressure - I will have to wait to answer that one. Right now, and ever since I agreed to do it, I was more overwhelmed and scared witless! I hope (and presume) that I will find the answer to be yes, once these wear off.
That's good advice! If the photographer knows even a little about the couple He/she has a huge advantage at capturing the "moments". Often when I am counseling a distressed marriage I ask the couples to bring in pictures of their wedding and ask them to pick the pictures that mean the most. Often the picture is not one of the perfectly framed, professionally perfect picture of the crossed hands with the wedding rings sparkling, but of a snapshot of the two spontaneously smiling at each other. In fact seldom has it been the 8x10 perfect pose at the alter in a $50 frame. In most cases the pic will be one showing compassion, humor, respect, etc. and a lot of times it is one that a friend took.
Originally Posted by MattKing
Last edited by sajianphotos; 10-31-2005 at 06:52 PM. Click to view previous post history.
That's a great point - and one that showed insight on behalf of the priest as he echoed it before the ceremony. I was very shocked at the absolute back seat he was willing to take to the event itself and what it meant to the couple. I was very pleasantly surprised, as I know many clergy who really think they have a direct line to God and therefore everything pales in importance next to them! This older gentleman (and a Catholic priest at that), although very traditional in many ways, not only didn't impose any restrictions on us (the photogs) but took us aside and encouraged us to shoot as much as we can, mainly for the very reason you mention! In that respect it was a great experience, and a pleasant surprise.
I also encourage a lot of pics. The more taken, then the better chance my handsome frame will be shown (the tongue is massaging the cheek) ;-) I also don't mind flash but some clergy don't like it. I also really like to sit down with the photog and see what I can do to help her/him.
I guess being an amateur photog of sorts myself makes me pretty sympathetic. I have had occasion, though, to experience some pretty haughty photogs. Several I can remember, I'm sure, thought they had a direct line to God too. I remember one that took 1 & 1/2 hours after the ceremony to set up his studio and take pictures in the sanctuary. He wouldn't even let the couple go through the reception line. I tried to explain to him a reception was waiting but he remarked that my job was done and his time was worth a heck of a lot more than mine, or anyone elses there, and he would finish when he finished. In no uncertain terms, he told me to let him alone. By the time he was done most the guests had left. After that I began to pay more attention to who the photog was going to be.
I'm not sure how many wedding photographers realize how much help a clergy person who likes their demeanor can be. In fact, it has never happened, but I would be pleased if a photog would call me ahead of the ceremony and set up a time to meet. I think pictures are that important, If there's any wedding photogs out there reading this, I'd be interested in knowing how close they work with clergy. But then I'd be stealing your thread. I just might be a good thread to start.
Anyway, fortunately, the vast majority of photographers are considerate and professional (even if they do use a digital). It's a shame but a moody photog too full of themselves can ruin a wedding about as fast as a clergy who's too full of themselves.
I've never seen one ruin a ceremony as well as a demanding mother, though. They can be downright nasty.
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You did pretty good, especially if you don't do it that often, when I was shooting weddings for money, I figured about 20% ratio on images that I liked, not the couple, but me myself, normally if it was exposed properly, eyes open no gastly shawdows and such, I would allow the couple to view them as proofs, which surprisingly, they accepted about 70-75% of the shots, you have to remember, we look at images all the time, the couples normally don't and they are surprisingly easy to work with, if you have laid everything out properly and cultivated a bit of a relationship with them.
Outdoors weddings were always the biggest challenge to me, there are so many variables that can and do change the exposure right at the time you make the exposure, I have some great shots of a large brown goose chasing the groom across the lawn at one of the weddings I did a couple of years ago, and believe it or not, that turned out to be a favorite with the bride and groom!
But you sound like you did okay, congrats.
And as Jim said, watch out for mothers and mother-in-laws!!! Yikes!!!
The mother comment was priceless! Fortunately, I had a couple of very sweet, very classy ladies on my hands - but I can only imagine!
Thanks for the input, I do appreciate it!
Once we got outside we had some clouds - so that the light was not horrifically contrasty. Lucky for me - I got some nice, reasonably soft and even light!
Originally Posted by sajianphotos
I always try to at least say hello to whoever is officiating. If I have a chance to ask about preferences, likes and dislikes, I welcome that too. When I can, I discuss angles, positioning, and lighting, as well as the "signing the register" shots.
I photographed one wedding in a large, circular church (with a gospel music ministry), where they ended up following my suggestion to have the guests, including in paricular the immediate family, sit in the choir area as well - essentially it was a wedding in the round, and all my shots during the ceremony show the happy couple surrounded by family and friends throughout. Apparently, the minister has used that idea in subsequent weddings. I know that the bride and groom really appreciated it - their church formed an important part of their lives, and they really liked the fact that so many of their friends and relatives, many of whom were part of the congregation, were prominent in their wedding photos.
All this is a roundabout way of saying that the more you ask, discuss, and learn, the better your work tends to be. I expect that Peter's photos reflect his interest in the people.
Thanks Matt. You are absolutely right in what you have done and said. That must have been a great set of pics.
You say you don't do weddings anymore because it's too demanding. It sounds like you have a real talent for it. If you don't mind my asking what about it was the worst?
Actually, I usually end up doing about one a year - this year included. Strictly for friends or friends of people who were previous clients.
Originally Posted by sajianphotos
There are two reasons I don't do more.
The first reason is that I have a full time practise as a lawyer - the usual 45 - 60+ hours per week that small firm practise entails. It's possible to schedule the actual photography into the midst of that, but there just aren't enough hours in the day to cover all the other responsibilities that quality wedding work requires (equipment maintenance, purchase of supplies, working with the professional lab, editing proofs, organizing proof albums, assisting clients with orders, masking negatives and/or preparing custom printing instructions, spotting/retouching, preparation of albums, not to mention promotion, sales, consultation with clients, discussions with the officient, etc., etc., etc. ...).
The second reason is the one that will be very evident to Peter. Wedding work is quick. You have to be able to handle the technical details instinctively, without pause or delay. If you photograph weddings, you have to be able to handle the cameras and the film and the lenses and the flashes and the tripod and the reflectors and ... quickly, and almost automatically, otherwise you won't be able to anticipate appropriately and you will miss important images. In addition, if you are not quick, you will find yoursely just rushing to keep up, and as a result unable to bring to bear your photographic talents, judgement and imagination - your photographs will be at best, blah.
If you do the work regularly, you adjust to the pace, and gain and retain the ability to work accurately and quickly, while still bringing your photogaphic skills and vision to the task. If you are not doing the work regularly, you just aren't as able to do it with the same facility, and both the quality and the enjoyment may suffer. My circumstances force me to do it part-time, if I am going to do it at all, and that is one of the reasons I too find it more demanding now than in the past.
I'll save the sort of funny, sort of scary wedding photography horror stories for another time.