This past weekend I had the opportunity to shoot my first wedding. It was for a relative so the pay wasn’t “wedding photographer” pay but it gave me some experience without all the pressure. Of course, I wanted to do a good job because I would have to see the bride at family functions in the future. Now that the even is over, the photos have been processed, and the bride is pleased with the results, I can look back at what I’ve learned.
1. Wedding Photography Is Hard Work
This wedding ceremony, which was about 15 minutes long, took place in a very small rural church in Grapeland, Texas (population 1500). As the only photographer, I had to capture images from the front of the church as the wedding party entered the church, from both sides of the church, and from the back as the bride and groom kissed and exited the church. The reception was held at a private residence and included the usual dinner, dance, cake cutting–and a lot of standing. By the end of the night I was definitely physically exhausted. Mentally, I was relieved that I had made it through the night while capturing what I believed were some good shots. As I went to sleep, I was grateful I wasn’t having to worry about aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc. anymore.
2. Equipment Can Make A Big Difference
I’m shooting only a Nikon D3100 with the 18-55 mm kit lens, a 55-300 mm zoom, and a 35mm/f1.8–not quite a “professional” gear set-up. On a few occasions, I was wishing I had some lenses with different focal lengths, especially in the church where I found myself too close to use the zoom but not able to get close enough with the kit lens. Of course, a second camera would have been a solution to this problem. During the outdoors reception, a wider aperture and/or a better sensor would have helped due to the low lighting. In short, better equipment would have helped lessen the stress of the exposure calculations I had to make on the fly.
3. Know How the Ceremony Will Take Place
Speaking of “on the fly,” a lot of my positioning was done very quickly and with little chance to plan ahead as I rarely knew where to be to get the best shot. I’ve been to several weddings and had a general idea of what to expect, but everything seemed to move much quicker than when watching with the rest of the attendees from the pews.
4. Wedding Photography Is Rewarding
To put it simply, I had a great time! I got to capture moments that happen for a brief few seconds and then are gone–the bride entering the church, the groom kissing the bride, the bride’s mother almost setting herself on fire with sparklers–unless they are saved in photos for a family to cherish forever. This is definitely something I would do again. Below are some of photos from Christy and Russell’s big day.