As my wife can attest to, I’m not one to sit around and watch the world go by. I always have this feeling that I need to be doing something!
Recently I attended my nephew’s wedding, where I had originally assumed that I’d be their wedding photographer. Instead, my nephew asked that I relax and enjoy the event instead of working it. I considered not bringing my gear with me because I knew when the opportunity arose, that camera would be pressed up against my nose, taking photos. Bah, I’m a photographer and where would I be without my camera! My brother was also in attendance and was wanting more experience in shooting weddings. I thought this would be a good opportunity to show him a few things I knew about shooting weddings.
A part of me thought perhaps they weren't happy with my niece's wedding photos that I had shot the previous year. This may be true or just me being critical of myself and my work, but when the 'pro' finally arrived, I was, lets just say, shocked. She was late (I always arrive early) and shot with sub-par hardware. Since my brother lived in the area, I asked him what the deal was with the 'pro' photographer. His explanation was that most folks in those parts (Kansas City) don't have high expectations of 'pro' photographers but still pay exorbitant fees. Wow, it's the exact opposite here in the Seattle area.
I know my attention should have been on the wedding itself, but I just couldn't help but critique the 'pro', to myself. As the day began, I watched as the 'pro' worked and was just astonished with the things the 'pro' did (or didn't do). It was just killing me. KILL'IN ME!!! Yes, I had to pick up my camera and start shooting. I tried to be respectful though. When the important moments of the wedding came around, I stayed out of the way of the 'pro' photographer as much as possible while still getting my own shots. After all, she was getting paid to do a job and I should not be getting in the way of that.
Towards the end of the day, during the reception, I had wondered when the ‘pro’ was going to take some of the bridal party ‘fun’ shots. The ‘pro’ didn’t look like she was going to, so here I thought would be a great opportunity to show my brother a few things as well as get some group shots of the bridal party. We gathered the party together and headed outside to try to take advantage of the last remaining bits of sunlight left. Yes, I felt a bit intrusive as it should have been the ‘pro’ doing this, but better to get the shots than not. When we returned from the group photos, many folks gathered to chimp with my brother, reviewing and laughing about the resulting photos. I’m not totally sure where the ‘pro’ was at this point, but she should have been close to the bridal group and must have known what my brother and I were doing.
For the remainder of the reception, I stayed close to my family and made sure to get photos of them. The ‘pro’ wasn’t taking photos of anyone outside of the bridal party.
All in all, the one important thing that this event reminded me of, was that it’s all a big, very important, historical, family event. As I go into a wedding as a photographer, I have to remember that these folks aren’t just strangers to one another as they are to me, but families coming together. It’s critical that I capture these brief moments in their lives that will be forever documented with my images. It’s not okay to simply document the occasion. It’s about capturing a story of the day that will be remembered by those who attended, and told to those who could not. I don’t, nor will I ever be complacent about my wedding photography work. It’s just too important.