Now this wedding was the first of my free weddings. I’ve been looking for couples that weren’t going to hire a photographer and that were willing to have me shoot for free with no expectations. I want to do this to get some deep end experience. It’s also a way to really decide whether I want to do this for a living.
I have shot a wedding solo before but that was for a good friend of mine. That edgy stress wasn’t really there for that wedding and I knew that I needed to experience shooting a wedding with strangers to get the true real life experience.
I won’t go into too much detail about the day but I will say that it was quite stressful. The couple and their families were wonderful! They were extremely understanding and were wonderful to work with. The stress I’m talking about is the thing that most photographers refer to when they say they won’t shoot weddings. Everything goes by really fast and you don’t have a lot of time to set up the shot. You have a short window in which to get that shot right otherwise it’s gone forever.
The church had a nightmare lighting scenario: bright beams sunlight coming in the windows on the east side that was much brighter than the rest of the church. The couple were standing right in one of the beams so half the bride was blown out while the rest of the scene was exposed correctly. I’m not blaming the church though. If I could have gone to the rehearsal the day before then I would have realised the problem and asked the celebrant if he could place the couple steps towards the altar. That would have placed the couple fully in the shade.
The lighting in the church wasn’t to blame for the next shot. When the bride was walking in the church with her father I was shooting from the altar area down the aisle. The background was much brighter than the bride and father so obviously metering off the two people was important to get right. I had spot metering switched on and I was metering off the bride’s face. How ever every shot I took was washed out! I tried frantically to get the shot exposed correctly but the window closed and I had missed the shot.
The church was very small and I felt self concious about walking around and getting in the way. There were no side aisles so if I wanted to move from the back to the front I had to move through the centre aisle, something I hate doing more than once or twice during a ceremony. Again, I would have been prepared for this had I gone to the rehearsal, something I could have done if I was a full time wedding photographer.
One last thing that I regret messing up was not shooting the bride’s grand mother pinning a family heirloom on the bride as she got out of the car. The bride’s mother told me to get that shot because it meant a lot to the grand mother. After the shot of the bride and groom in the car I ran to the church to get in place for the walk down the aisle. I had totally forgotten about the heirloom shot! Luckily the bride’s brother was there and he took the shot as he had brought his SLR. Now I’m glad the shot was taken but if the couple had been paying me for the shoot I wouldn’t have been forgiven for missing what was arguably the most important photo of the day!
This experience has really made me think twice about how I’m approaching this career change into photography. I haven’t completely written off the idea of becoming a photgrapher but I have realised that I need to take it a little slower than I have been. I’ve not been shooting a lot lately because I want to have public liability insurance before doing any more free family portrait shoots. Money has been tight and I’ve vowed not spend anymore money on photography until my current debt has been paid off. While this is responsible budgeting, it has left my photgraphy muscle unexercised. That’s a very bad place to be when shooting a wedding.
For the foreseeable future I’ll be focusing on family portraits and landscapes. Landscapes because that’s what I love and family portraits because I still want to practice dealing with people. Plus I’ve grown to like people photography. I’ve gotten over that initial shyness and am able to, at the very least, tell people how I want them to pose, even if the photos aren’t always the best.