….The mother and bride laughed and cried tears of joy when they saw the photos I took. They kept saying, “When did you take this photo”?….
If and when a personal relationship finds it’s way to a marriage proposal more often than not it leads to an unrepeatable, unrehearsed special event called a wedding.
As a producer, by the time I became actively involved in wedding photography I already had some experience in the wedding industry as a freelance DJ. So I basically knew how a good portion of the wedding day was supposed to “go”.
I owned some medium format and 35 m/m camera gear that my girlfriend at the time borrowed in order to learn how to photograph weddings. I found someone to teach her and I went along with her to the classes. That’s essentially how I got involved with weddings as a photographer.
And when my girlfriend moved on in life I was left with great photography gear and some further specialized production knowledge very relevant to the wedding industry.
Meanwhile, one day soon after I received a phone call from a mother of a bride who knew me personally and who’s wedding photographer had cancelled on her daughter’s wedding. The wedding was only 6 weeks away and my time was available for that day.
I met with the bride and her mother and leveled with them, that even though I had some experience in the industry if they hired me to “shoot” their wedding it would be the first time I shot an entire wedding on my own.
The bride and her mom appreciated my candor and decided to take a chance on me and so they hired me.
My approach was this: I combined the bride’s input about her taste and the specific images she needed shot with my own sense of production value then shot the wedding as I saw it. I took standard issue and portrait photos (How to do that is what I learned at wedding photo school) as well as documenting the day as it actually occurred, sometimes called photojournalism.
Here was the outcome of the days efforts: The mother and bride laughed and cried tears of joy when they saw the photos I took. They kept saying, “When did you take this photo”? In short, my clients were extremely happy. What else happened?
- The church lady at the Catholic church said, “You are by far the fastest photographer I ever saw the way you coordinated all the group shots at the alter in 15 minutes”. I remember this because she also asked for a “handful of my business cards”.
Her comment about coordinating the group photos stuck with me and I found out as time went on that most wedding photographers sorely lack basic everyday production skills, skills that I find are reasonably easy to learn.
- At the reception held at a very exclusive private Men’s club, the banquet director also took a few cards and remarked, “I have a list of photographers that I don’t refer much longer than the list I do. I like how you try not to be noticed by the guests”. (When he found out it was my first wedding he nearly did a spit take in his ginger ale.)
- Two couples who were guests at the wedding and engaged to be married also asked for my card.
Thus, a new specialikzed aspect of my production abilities was born. What the people such as the church lady and the banquet director were responding to when they took my card even though they had not yet seen a single photo I took is, the way they saw me approach my responsibility toward the bride’s wedding day that went far beyond merely taking a photo…..
The key to success was in the details I gleaned from the bride about her day along with understanding basic “Production Value” of an unrehearsed, unrepeatable special event. I simply used these elements as my basis to cover the wedding day.
All of this is to say that a wedding photographer needs to possess not only the artistic and technical capacity to create images, but an ability to see how the people of the day act and react to the event as it unfolds. I captured the essence of that first wedding day and every wedding I shot there after.
If you have questions about the wedding industry or elements of your special day feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org I am the only one who sees that mail.
© Copyright Gary James 2009 all rights reserved.