Countdown to D-day….T minus approx 83 hours

Hi all. As a photographer, one must be versatile, but one would or could end up concentrating on one or maybe two specific areas of photography. At one point during this past year, I was asked to shoot a wedding as a secondary shooter…I happily agreed knowing that it was going to be a challenge. I must admit, I had very little to no preparation for this day. I met with the primary photographer, he gave me a couple of pointers, I made notes and when the time came I rolled with the punches. BIG MISTAKE!!

As most of you know, I am currently in school. I had used my camera that week for school work. I should’ve checked my camera the day before the wedding to make sure everything was set. I did not and that day I took an ungodly amount of unusable photos. It was a tragedy. I was nervous, forgot half the stuff I was learning in class and I couldn’t even work my camera. I looked and felt like a total amateur. I said to myself, I was no longer going to do weddings. I was not ready.

See, weddings are very special ocassions. For the Bride it is the most special day of her life….and it only comes once (if she’s lucky). She has worked so hard for god knows how long to make sure everything is absolutely perfect. I cannot and refuse to take that lightly. I took a giant step back and concentrated on being a better photographer. However, opportunity is knocking…again. I was asked to be a second shooter, but this time, I would do it right. It has been a little over a month since this opportunity presented itself….I have worn myself out researching the internet for tips about what shots should I be looking for, what aperture and focal length are recommended, what I should be thinking about when going to this event and how to make my shooting a success. I figure, I should be putting a lot of effort into preparation…just like the Bride and the Groom have.

Some of the things I’ve come across as I prepared myself are as follows:

1. Make a list of the shots you should and want to get. I have made several lists because I keep adding, or modifying the list in some way. As I continued reading, more and more shots came to light…I will be very busy.

2. Do NOT forget about composition. In a high paced environment as a wedding is, it is easy to forget about one of the primary concepts in photography: composition. I have to make sure I take a breath and compose my shot correctly. I know, you’re probably saying: “yeah, but if a shot is good enough, I can always fix my composition in post.” Well, you are probably right, but why add post production work to yourself. Get used to getting the shot as close to perfect as you can out of the camera.

3. Use Wide Open Aperture. When it came to this tip, I had one question. When shooting formals, I assume that you don’t want such a shallow depth of field because you are probably shooting a group of people. So, I decided that even though the tip did not make the distinction of where to shoot wide open, I made my own determinations. I will shoot wide open in low light situations. This probably means the ceremony inside the church and I’m really going to make sure my shutter speed is NOT below 1/60th. If I can’t make that happen I will go with f/8.0 or f/11 to make sure my depth of field is a little deeper for clearer shots. The reception will be essential to have a wide open aperture. I’m going to be doing candid shots and I want to concentrate on true moments…so it’s essential to have a shallow depth of field to focus in on the subject. Mind you….if I’m using a flash I might have to make some adjustments here and there. So I’ll have to keep that in mind as well.

4. Fill Flash. I knew nothing of fill flash first time around. This time, I’m doing more research and I have practiced to make sure I shoot natural looking pictures even with a flash on. I’m a little nervous about this…but that is the beauty of being a second shooter. The pressure is not as big as being the primary shooter and there’s a tincy bit more time…..so I’ll use that to my advantage.

5. For God’s sake use my histogram. I have drilled this into my brain!! I use to judge my shots off the LCD screen…and have learned that it is so much easier to look at your histogram for an accurate exposure, especially if using a flash.

6. “Shoot until your trigger finger bleeds.” I love, love this quote I got off a tutorial. I have actually written it underneath my shot list (which I will be pinning to my shirt –under my black jacket) as a reminder that I should be constantly looking for shots, for moments, for details, etc. My job is not done until the party is over. I’m not there to talk to the bridesmaids, to chit chat or have drinks. I am there to shoot as many shots as I can within the allotted time. I will make this happen.

There’s a lot more that one needs to consider when shooting a wedding. After all, it is a great responsibility… because after the party is over and the day is come and gone, the only thing left will be memories and what better way to recollect the events of a life changing event than photographs.

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