Sunday, June 1, 2008

Get the Job Done: First Wedding A Success!

Whew! Man am I exhausted! I have to say that shooting yesterday's wedding was by far one of the most challenging photography experiences I've ever had. Not only was my brain done in Saturday, but my muscles were sore and taunt as if I'd run a marathon. Of course I didn't feel any of this while I was working. Adrenaline must have kept me going. But the enormity of the event hit me as soon as we stopped, and Mike was driving us home. I could barely bring myself to speak as the excitement drained away and all that was left was fear and worry. I stared blankly out the window while Mike held my hand. I kept thinking: "God I hope I did a good job. Please don't let me have messed this up."

But I can now say with great certainty though (after spending most of Sunday editing) that I think Jason, Mike and I did a great job covering my first official wedding assignment! The photos are fabulous and it's going to be very hard to narrow it down to only the 100 or so best.

I couldn't have done this without Jason and Mike. How does any one wedding photographer working alone get the job done? There is so much going on that I think it would have been a disservice if I tried to tackle this alone. There were simply times when I didn't have the best angle, but Mike did. While Jason drove to Watkins to be with Jordan, the groom, Mike and I hightailed it to Englewood to be with Tolisa, the bride. While I shot the bride and her bridesmaids getting dressed in the basement, Mike shot the bride's father and other male relatives outside.

My flash started to die right when I was supposed to be shooting the rings, so Jason and Mike stepped up to shoot. When the dancing started, I was on the ground while Mike took some amazing shots with an entirely new perspective from above, shooting off the balcony. The triple team idea was fundamental to making this a success.

I had the best young couple to work with. Tolisa and Jordan were fun, adventurous and up for anything. Capturing their happiness was easy. I'll never forget the moment after the ceremony was over, when the couple ran out of the church. I followed them and witnessed a memorable moment: while standing alone in front of the church, Jordan gripped Tolisa's hand and they quietly prayed together for strength in their new journey together. (I kept shooting the whole time...hope that was OK!)

Now here's the bad news: Between the three of us, we must have taken nearly 3,000 shots. Can somebody say OVERKILL! It's going to take a herculean effort to edit all of this, so I think I better get ready to "kill some babies." That's the term we use in the newsroom when a reporter has the terrible job of cutting their own stories down from 60 inches to 25. Those stories are often as dear to a reporter's heart as their own child. To have to edit anything can be an almost painful experience because you are so connected to each word, each sentence. I sorta feel that way about these photos, so I better prepare myself for the difficult process of culling them down.

One of my instructors Efrain asked me what "major catastrophes" did I encounter, what lessons did I learn and what went so well that I'm beside yourself? I'd have to say that should I get another wedding assignment, I and my assistants will have to be pickier about the shots we choose to take. I think that's the only way to avoid walking away from the event with thousands of photos.

I will surely be charging more, too. I completely understand why so many wedding photographers have high prices for their wedding services. Shooting a wedding is tough. You have to be quick on your feet, moving around constantly. And the work isn't done when the bride and groom leave -- we easily are talking about several hours of more work to edit these photos and give them a cohesive look.

I was paid upfront for my services while at the reception, and the bride as agreed to pay extra for a CD of all the images, but my greatest worry now is that I won't make enough money in print sales to even cover the cost of renting the 30D. Several people asked for business cards, so that could mean some business later. The groom's father needs promotional shots for his Christian ministry (he has a daughter getting married in Oklahoma that he asked me to shoot, but I'm not so sure about that assignment!) I will definitely have to look at this as more of a portfolio-padding, learning experience.


Sarah K. said...

The shots look great! If it works out to be a portfolio padding venture only, it was worth it IMO.

Sheba Wheeler said...

Thanks Sarah! I think you are right...Not sure if I will ever do a wedding again, but it feels great having this one under my belt with some good material to add to my port.

Lisa P said...

From what you've shown us so far, you did a fantastic job! I'd never would know from the photos that it was your first.

-- Lisa P (lisap on dgrin)

Sheba Wheeler said...

Thank you for the encouragement Lisa! Here's hoping for more improvement.

Hick said...

I noticed your comment on DPS and since I just shot my first wedding on Friday, I thought I would drop by to offer encouragement. I must say, "Wow". You did a beautiful job. I agree about the time and exhaustion and soreness, etc. Many blessings to you as you pursue wedding photography. You obviously have what it takes.

Sheba Wheeler said...

Thanks for stopping by Hick! I appreciate the encouragement. How did your wedding go? Got any words of wisdom for me and my readers about your event?

Debi-t said...

I saw your post on DPS as well. I too have my first wedding this weekend. I just came from rehersal. Your photo's are great. Not sure I will have enough time to get the personal shots. I have A LOT of family to shoot. The bride has 8 children under the age of 6 in the wedding as well. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Sheba Wheeler said...

Hi Debi! Good luck on your wedding this weekend. Stop by and let me know how it went for you. Good Lord...8 children under the age of six...whew that's going to be tough but you can do it. It will be very interesting to see the shots you will have from this wedding.

Anonymous said...

Wow--For a first Wedding I am inspired and impressed! I'll be checking back to see your future work. I especially like your selective color shots--and thank you for your commentary--it helps to hear what a photographer is thinking during these shoots.

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