29 May 2010

Sneak Peek: Chris and Natalie's Outdoor Wedding

I did it! I photographed a wedding [update: see more photos here!], all by myself. It was exhausting and exhilarating and, yes, a little emotional, as the bride and groom are very good friends of mine. I am so thankful that Chris and Natalie entrusted the capture of their entire day to me and my camera...knowing full well that, although I've used my camera at many a wedding, this was my first solo wedding photography experience. The above photo is just a little 'teaser'...I'll have more posted soon for sure.

The wedding was lots of fun, and the photos Chris and Natalie wanted their photos to reflect the activities they enjoy doing.  Fishing, reading, and playing basketball were all covered in their pre-wedding photos (really, I can hardly wait to show you).  The wedding and reception were also very "them." From the prioritization of the gospel during the ceremony to the pinatas at the reception, it was a very good representation of who they are.

Overall, I think the day went very well, despite the weather being very hot and windy. I felt as confident and prepared as I could have been. There were a few small mistakes I made, though, which I will list as a form of self-flogging so other aspiring wedding photographers can learn from my mistakes.

1. Let me get this off my conscience first of all. While shooting outdoors with the whole wedding party, we made the transition from bright sunlight to a shady patch. I had the exposure compensation set a few stops lower due to the bright light, but I forgot to change it after we got to the shade.  Luckily, after firing off maybe 20 posed group shots without bothering to check the LCD (duh) I noticed that a) my shots were embarrassingly underexposed, and b) one guy still had his sunglasses on. (Another duh.) So I did what any good photographer would do, and said, "Hey Jordan...you still have your glasses on...sorry, we gotta do a few more." Groanings commenced all around, directed at the (supposedly) guilty party. No one suspected my technological lapse. Sorry, Jordan! :)

2. I locked the master list of family poses in my car. With my keys.  Thankfully, Natalie and I had gone over the list only hours before, and so we had a good idea of who was supposed to be in the photos. I don't think we missed any, actually. (Justin was set to show up later, and he had a spare key, but we obviously didn't have time to wait.)

3. I got distracted shooting the bridal party lineup at the very beginning of the ceremony, and neglected to realize the groom had already walked one of his grandmothers down the aisle unphotographed. The music did not change and so I had no auditory cue for when the program began. That is just an excuse, so really, it's no excuse.

As far as I know, those are the only real mistakes I made. Would I have done a few things differently? Possibly. I always have with lots of fun posing ideas that I seem to forget as soon as there's a camera on my face.  But there were no horrific disasters. Hooray for first solo weddings!

Here are some things I am glad I did.

1. Had extra batteries along, as well as a car charger for them. My flash fired more often than usual, and drained the battery more quickly than I was used to. I just popped the old one into the charger in my car. Eventually I will get a couple more batteries so I don't have to worry about charging throughout the day. I had 2 batteries and I used each one twice (more or less...I didn't actually DRAIN them but replaced them when it got to 1/3 power.)

2. Drove by all the areas ahead of time AND the day-of. This helped get an idea of lighting issues, where other people might be in the way (at parks and such this is always a problem), ideas of where to put the wedding party, even timing the drive.

3. Probably the biggest thing: although we were on a very specific time schedule, I was very careful not to rush the photo process too much.  This required a bit of a shift in priority for me.  Instead of taking 10 shots of each pose and hoping one would turn out (okay, so I don't normally do it quite that badly), I carefully checked each group of images as I began shooting them (except the one time mentioned above), taking those few extra seconds to really look at the image and see if it needed any changes.  I also tried not to be afraid to rearrange people in the (very large) family setups. At first, I was afraid they'd think I was being a bad photographer. Doesn't she know how to do this? No, thanks for asking. But then...I realized that is more like a good photographer. You want to get it right, more than worrying about what people think. I'm sure some of these things will come more naturally as I gain more experience. But it felt good to be thorough the first time around. The bride and groom seemed to appreciate it, too (as did I when I was the bride).

That's it.  I will definitely have photos coming in a few weeks. I am DYING to show you more, but in all fairness, I guess the bride and groom should be able to see their photos first. Right? :)


Moriah said...

Congrats! First weddings are always stressful. Sounds like you had a great experience.

Tim Kippel said...

My first wedding shoot (as a 1st shooter w/o a 2nd), was last weekend in GA.

The day before the wedding I was told by the groom that his mom didn't want me to be a distraction so I'd have to stay near the back of the venue to shoot the ceremony. This really limited me because my longest lens was a 24-70. I would probably rate my ceremony photos a C to C-. They're just boring and not close enough.

The couple also didn't want ANY posed couple photos. I was able to talk them into taking some, and I think they'll love them.

I too had to work with some difficult lighting. The ceremony was under a hard topped pavilion, so the lighting came from either side which was nice, but I still found it hard not to have blurry images if people were moving because I was shooting at ISO400 and around f/5.6 to not have too much DOF.

And some of my group shots were out in the sun at 2 in the afternoon.

I really hope they love the images I got for them from over the weekend. I don't want to be a disappointment to them. I'm flying to Dallas tonight, and I'm hoping to have some time to edit while on the flight and waiting around.

I'm looking forward to seeing your images.

- said...

I am so very proud of you and I cannot wait to see the ones you put up here. It makes me very excited to see Natalie and Chris!! Love you.

natalie said...

thanks for letting us be first to see our pictures:) i love them- but even more, i loved having YOU right there with me all day. i know it was a lot of family and different activities to deal with but you did a fabulous job and it made the day extra fun & special to have you as our photographer. can't wait to see your official website!