This is a long post… (sorry.)
My nephew, Jeff, got married at the end of Sept. A year ago, shortly after he announced his engagement, my sister said to me, “Kids want to save money; they probably will ask Wei and you to be their wedding photographers.”
Stress free is what we treasure the most in our retirement life. What I understand about wedding photographing is that you only have one chance to get each photo right, and some (most?) brides (mother of bride?) are not easy to please. After hearing what my sister said, I was nervous, scared, and exciting at the same time. Who else, other than my wonderful nephew, would consider giving us such an opportunity?
Still, I highly recommended them to hire a professional photographer, whom they could be angry with if things didn’t go as expected (definitely not his aunt!) 😉 Later, they said they preferred having us to enjoy the wedding; they hired a professional photographer. They asked if we minded to take some get-ready photos and the First Look photos. I felt relieved. Still, I watched tons of wedding photographing videos, just in case.
We were as prepared as we could be. We drove to Vermont; each had two cameras (so we didn’t have to change lenses), four external flashes (one for each camera), two tripods, lighting stands, lighting umbrellas, extra batteries, and extra memory cards. I had compiled a shot list; I even had some images in my head.
Well, all those videos I had watched didn’t help much. ;-( Walking into the makeup room, immediately, I got my first surprise. The make-up room was one bathroom in a beautiful 126 year old home. Like any old house during that period of time, each room is small. A small table was placed between the toilet seat and the sink; a small portable round mirror was on the table. The hairdresser had her curing iron… etc. plugged in by the sink, wires dangling. Other than taking a few shots behind the bride, my only logical choice was to shoot while sitting on the toilet seat.
The subject would be sitting in front of windows in a sunny day; the light condition was challenging, to say the least. One bedroom (small) served as the bride’s changing room. It has two twin size beds in it; with suitcases, and other things piling on the floor, the walking path was less than two feet wide. Two windows locate at each end of the outer wall and a table was placed in front of one of them. If I wanted to take a photo of the bride standing by the window to take an advantage of the natural light like professionals had suggested, I would have to stand on top of one bed. No room for tripod, lighting stands… etc.!
In most of those wedding videos I had watched, I saw a big well-lit room with a large mirror. Using natural light, selecting the spot, utilizing the mirror… they said. Their room, apparently, had plenty of space for everyone to move around! But that wasn’t true for the room I was in. I took a few photos of the bride standing in front of the mirror, which was hanging on the closet door, and found out later that the mirror has something (dust?) all over it, so my photos were covered with a thousand white dots. (Is it photographer’s job to make sure the mirror is clean?)
The above photo was the result after spending hours cleaning up the white spots. I cropped the photo to the minimum so I didn’t have to be the slave of those unwanted dots.
Allowed time was another surprise. In those videos, it seems like each photographer has an assigned time (short or long) that he can pose people in a couple of different ways. In reality, their schedule was very tight and they were behind. I didn’t want to slow things down further, so I tried to stay out of their way while clicking. When I finally got a free moment, I thought I could take photos of the rings, flowers, dress, shoes… etc. since one of my cameras had a macro lens just for this purpose. Well, flowers were not delivered yet; my sister had no idea where rings were. We managed to find the dress and shoes (a photo of shoes was posted on my previous post), and that was it. At the end, I didn’t need my other camera at all.
First Look – am I the only ones who didn’t know what First-Look was? I thought it was for groom and bride to meet their families after they got dressed. 😉 I found out what it was 20 minutes before it was supposed to happen! Wei and I hurriedly scouted the location and came up with some ideas. Good thing that Andrew, the professional photographer, had arrived. Even though I had an idea how to shoot, but Andrew’s idea was even better (Experience!).
There were a lot of surprises, to say the least. But each one was a fun challenge. I was thrilled! I am still excited. Come to think of it, getting involved in wedding photographing ONCE should be on my bucket list; the only reason it wasn’t there was that I didn’t think I could make it happen. Thanks to my nephew and his wife for taking a chance on us.
I want to thank Andrew Cate (the professional photographer they hired, remember?) Some wedding photographers don’t allow other photographer taking photos at the wedding. Andrew not only allowed us to take photos, but also shared his talent and knowledge with us. He is kind, warm and he is a great photographer.
After having this experience, I have a newfound respect for all wedding photographers, particularly a nice one like Andrew. It’s really not an easy job! At the end, I learned that shooting documentary or candid photos fit me better. I want to tell stories.
It was a beautiful, romantic, and moving wedding. Standing there with my nephew waiting for the bride to arrive, thinking of all the joy this boy (young man) has brought to us in all these years, I almost cried. Best wishes to my nephew Jeff and his wife Emily.
Thanks for visiting my blog.