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Gracie and Josh – My First Wedding!!

For those of you who may not know me, I have a lingering habit of worrying about… well, everything.

This wedding took place back on June 27, 2009. I had been using my Canon EOS 40D for a little over a year at that point and had been taking birthday parties and outdoor portraits of family and coworkers brave (foolish?) enough to leave those potentially precious and non-replaceable moments up to me to capture. I always had it in the back of my mind that I would one day evolve into a confident enough photographer to venture into the wedding forum, but by my humble expectations that probably would have  fallen between 2011 and the Second Coming—that is of course assuming the world doesn’t end on the much anticipated Mayan Calendar 2012. (As a side note: I do have a tent, sleeping bag, and water filtration pump just in case!) I digress.

My point is that I was fairly comfortable using my camera to capture the shots I wanted, though those shots were more or less scripted, especially when compared to say …a wedding. I knew the difference and had absolutely no intention of taking that leap any time soon. My supervisor at my day job (so as not to disclose any potentially harmful personal information on this public blog, I will hereby refer to this person as “Susan”) apparently did not know these difference, or perhaps simply did not care. Her cousin was planning a wedding and they needed a photographer. I was reluctantly volunteered. =)

I met the handsome couple in May of that year, at the intended venue late one afternoon and discussed her plans and expectations. I was adamant to make clear my experience, or lack there of, as a professional photographer, and that I was not trying to advertising myself as such. So we met somewhere in the middle and scheduled  the date.

For the several weeks before, I had researched and studied any topic that I could find on posing, technique, bounced lighting, standard shot lists, etc., enough that I felt I had a decent enough grasp on things to get the job done. Looking back, I can say without reservation that I had absolutely no clue as to what I was doing!! But it all turned out just fine. The wedding day came and went. I arrived at approximately 10:30AM to capture the bridal preparations at her home and moved throughout the day as her second shadow. The family was inviting and very supportive in allowing me to roam freely, jumping in and out of everyone’s way as they try to prepare. If memory serves I took a solid 1,500 shots during the day. Fear and paranoia took over my preparedness, and as a result I took 5 additional shots for every 1 that I set up. I was terrified of underexposure, composition, being confident enough to push my way through the audience to get position on those key moments scattered throughout a typical wedding, too slow of a shutter speed, correct aperture, battery life, and the list goes on. I shot anything and everything that I could think of, and even then, multiple times for safety and ignorance. Not only did I fret my way through the day, but all of these extra shots were nearly impossible to  organize and cull back at the house when working edits in Photoshop. Less in more, but without the confidence and mostly experience, it’s hard to practice that.

The shots came out and were great! But let me be clear, (lecture mode: ON) I do not at all recommend taking on a wedding by yourself, especially as your first wedding experience. If you are an aspiring photographer looking to get your feet wet in the business, contact your local wedding photographers and inquire about helping as a second shooter or at the very least, as an assistant to help carry and manage equipment. This will teach you so much more in a less stressful environment so that all the burden is not yours to carry alone, allowing you to take everything in and absorb what is actually taking place. Take his or her lead, learn the patterns and how to anticipate the individual shots, and become comfortable in the wedding environment. This is absolutely not the time to learn as you go stumbling through by trial and error. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s a great way to learn. Sure. Sink or swim. Trial by fire. But always keep in mind that you, as the primary (and possibly ONLY) photographer, are responsible for the capture of wedding day memories that must last generations to come. (lecture mode: OFF)

Now, with the that bit out of the way, here are a few of my favorite shots from that most exciting day. Thank you so much, Grace and Josh, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of your beautiful wedding.

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