Sunday, September 27, 2009

What I Learned About Being a Wedding Photographer

(without really being one)

I had the opportunity to take pictures at my friends, Christina and Emily's, wedding yesterday (in a dress). They were generous enough to invite me, knowing that I hate events, and that I hate dressing, and that I take pictures as a hobby. They had a professional wedding photographer but they thought it would be have fun to have me come along and do some less formal shots, and have me along for some of the time when the pro wouldn't be there.

I learned a lot, from shooting AND from watching the pro.

1. Smile. The pro (I don't know her name, so I am not picking on anyone particular, which I know is bad form) did not smile at all. Maybe when she was out doing the formal shots, which I didn't see, never smiled. At first I thought she was just grumpy with me, because I had a camera, but I put it away whenever they were around, and these days, everyone has a camera, even some of the 80 year old relatives were out there with pretty fancy cameras. It turns out it wasn't me- the second shooter smiled, the pro just didn't really smile a whole lot. I'm sure she was concentrating, but it stressed me out. I find when I'm doing my normal shooting- on the street, with my friends, whatever, and even in daily life- a smile goes a long way. People smile back. They relax. The worry lines kinda... go away rather than mirroring.

2. To be successful, you either have to be very assertive or very sneaky. I failed at both, the pro was very sneaky, and I'm sure, very assertive. If you want to take good candids, or even just good action shots, you've gotta get in good locations, and get in people's faces, and they've got to either hold the pose (assertive) they're in or not be bothered by the camera in their face (sneaky). The pro was really good at this. She darted everywhere and people must have just held onto what they were doing because of her serious face (assertive) or because she was so quick (sneaky). I guess this section could also be called Have a Good Zoom Lens, which she did- a 70-200mmL, which I have no interest in owning- it's long and big and heavy, and what would I do with it? But you don't really have to be sneaky OR assertive OR wear the serious face with that lens, because people don't know you're taking pictures of them. You just have to have a really strong back or really good pain killers.

3. There's no crying in baseball. I suppose if you're a wedding photographer and you don't know the people you're shooting, and you're very serious, and you don't really care about them, and it's just a job- you wouldn't cry. But if you are kind of sentimental, and/or you do know the people, and/or it's a beautiful wedding with absolutely perfect brides with absolutely perfect vows, well, you might cry. Crying smears lenses. It causes blurry pictures, and you miss shots. There's no crying in baseball, and apparently in weddings, either.

4. Know how to use a flash and a diffuser and all kinds of other fancy lighting things. Available light, low light, all that stuff is great. But in mixed light settings, like reception areas, you have to carry around flashes and diffusers and know what to do with them. Because high ISO and wide-open awesome primes just aren't as good as fancy pros with fancy diffusing flashes. Seriously.

5. I'm pretty sure you need to be able to use photoshop or lightroom or some other post-processing thing really really well for the times when the flash and diffuser and stuff doesn't fix the white balance or the shadows, or, just, the wedding party or the guests who don't look perfect and will be mad if they don't look perfect. I'm pretty not good at photoshop. I don't get it and it's complicated, and if it's not SOOC (straight out of the camera) passable, I throw it away.

6. themacinator is not a wedding photographer. I'm not assertive or sneaky, I like to smile, I cry, and I'm not interested in learning how to use a flash or a diffuser. I'm a almost a camera purist- I don't like doctored photoshop pictures. You are who you are, except for white balance. I'm totally flattered that I got to participate in a beautiful wedding in a small way, and disgusted that I wore a dress, and I took almost 1000 pictures, which is always fun and good practice. But, yeah, I'm not a wedding photographer. I took pictures, at a wedding.

pregame show


KHB said...

sounds like it was great experience for future events ;)

thb said...

Now, what event could KHB be typing about?