Wedding Photography / by Brenda Hartshorn

This weekend I helped out a fellow photographer shoot a wedding by taking on the roll as the 2nd photographer. I've shot about 5 on my own in addition to the ones I helped with while at Element Studios; and I can say with confidence that I very much enjoy the role as a 2nd photographer much more for weddings.  The 2nd photographer gets to focus on doing the fun creative images of the venue and capture all of the awesome little quiet moments that people often miss.  I prefer to take an editorial approach to wedding photography than traditional portraiture.

The wedding on Saturday was by far the best I've had the pleasure of photographing.  It wasn't the most expensive venue, there wasn't a 5 course meal, and there weren't all kinds of crazy decorations. It stood out as being different because this couple was genuinely happy and in love. It wasn't head-over-heels-make-you-want-to-vomit love.  This was steadfast real love.  A love that was mature, honored, and respected.  A love rooted from the understanding that this was their partner, and all the other good times were secondary to that one truth.  It was an honor to witness that.

The pastor read the whole passage of some scripture that is often scrutinized as fundamentally wrong, but in truth it is taken out of context. Many have heard that the Bible says that women are to submit to their husband and obey him, but those who are offended by this obviously do not know the rest of the passage:

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself."  -Ephesians 5: 24-28

The passage demands that husbands must put his wife first.  With this full grasp of the passage, we can appreciate that the advice given to men is not for them to be ordering women around, but to honor, love, and protect them.  It's really quite beautiful.

The best advice I can give for wedding photography would be the following:

  1. Make sure the bride is happy.  Even if you have a great idea for a photo that the couple would love in the future, you need to keep in mind that the wedding is happening now.  
    If the bride is too cold or too hot, it's time to call the session and head back indoors. You're booked for several hours and even if there's a schedule, t
    here will be other opportunities for photos later.
  2. Scout the location thoroughly before hand.  Even if you find the perfect place to do your couple shots, have a backup plan for 2nd and 3rd locations.  Weather can change, the light may not be where you thought it would be, and let's face it: geese can happen. 
  3. Always bring more batteries than you think you need. I'm always surprised how quickly I burn through batteries at a wedding in comparison to shooting corporate events.
  4. For the love of God, do not use direct on camera flash. Bounce your speedlite off a wall or a ceiling. I shouldn't even need I mention this, but I've seen it done far too often.
  5. Don't feel bad about bringing more equipment than you need. Wedding have the tendency to go wrong- so backups are a must.
  6. Know the wedding party.  Make sure you know who is attending the wedding so you don't ask the awkward question of "Where's grandma?" and people have to tell you she had passed away.
  7. Always deliver more than is expected.  This motivate the couple to refer you to their friends and family.
  8. If a guest wants you to go out of your way to take a particular photo, do it!
    The bride and groom is your current client, but the guests could be your next.
  9. Make friends with the venue managers and/or event planner.  They can help make your life much easier to help make sure things run smoothly, get you the information that you need, or get the right people to help you.
  10. Don't book a bride under 30. I wish I was 100% joking about this, but I'm not. A large percentage of younger brides are going to be emotional- and you better have some counseling skills to help calm her down.  Ever wonder why wedding photographers make so much money? It isn't a walk in the park.. despite the venue being booked in one.