I think I'm hooked on wedding photography

Before March 2018 I would not have even entertained the notion that I could be good enough to become a wedding photographer within the same year. This breed of photographers have to be able to do portrait, landscape, group, night time, interior, family, architectural, macro, candid, documentary etc., photography within a stressful and fast paced and everything might go wrong environment.

Whilst they are doing all of these styles of photography, the light is ever changing - this means they are considering exposure, aperture, ISO, metering, focus to meet every condition for every composition - THIS IS HARD - you have to whirl those camera dials all over the place in a second and still be able to get a good shot. You also have to consider what else is going on in the composition of the shot - like background noise of a messy room or a sign post or other people or a car….or another photographer. The Wedding Photographer has to have lightning quick reactions to all of this. You cannot say ‘oh, guys, I didn’t have the right settings during the ceremony. Can we do that again?’ You HAVE to get it right…..or right enough that the mistakes can be edited after. Sound stressful?

They are also considering whether they should use a different focal length, thinking of the wedding timings, managing different personalities, walking into a potential landmine of last minute fears and stresses, family disputes, crying children, hungover adults (wait…….did I get that the right way around?) and knowing that you are working within these conditions for at least 12 hours and the hungover adults will do their best to become hungover all over again.

Batteries, extra batteries, extra extra batteries, SD cards x 70000000, flashes, extra flashes, batteries for those flashes, diffusers, stands, tripods, spare clothes, water, food…………Nervous breakdown Hotline number.

Oh, and then there is the weather. The only control the Wedding Photographer has over this is his or her ability to get creative.

And let us not forget to mention the fact that every other single person attending the wedding is also a photographer so there may be some rough elbowing the smart phones and tablets out of the way to get the shot that you have been paid to get.

Sound fun?

Well, entre nous, despite my brain trying to divorce me for over work mid photo, I absolutely, bloody LOVED it.

And

So I did my homework - I ate, breathed, dreamed wedding photography for the next 6 months and I was lucky. Lucky to have been given the opportunity (thank you to Anneli and the team at La Boutique Events) and lucky to have been given the chance by two great couples at an incredible venue ( Castelnau des Fieumarcon ).

So I had wonderful, calm couples, beautiful venue, stunning weather ( a moaner might complain that the outside ceremonies were in full, bright…….oh so bright…F. 16…….and oh so hot……sun…….but I would never complain…not me), well behaved guests, brilliant venue staff but I appreciate not every wedding can be so.

When the shoes are kicked off - literally and figuratively - and as the dance floor becomes slippery from spilled drinks and with romance exhausted, once you’ve packed up your first camera, second camera, realised that you haven’t eaten in 12 hours, are hot and smelly and are surrounded by jubilant party goers do you find the strength to say ‘ok, let’s try and do some star and night time shots of the venue’………in the dark…..as you must have dark. You trip over everything, you take 40 shots of dark blurriness and THEN at some silly hour go home and think ‘I HOPE that I at least captured the ceremony. I hope that I at least captured the………I hope that I at least captured the….what if none of my cards worked, what if I didn’t even have a card in my camera…..’ and then the editing starts. For me, as a beginner and editing for both Landie and myself (we jointly took 2 million images just to be sure we had 1 good shot) this took me quite some time.

The Wedding Photographer actually has an extremely privileged role. They get to be EVERYWHERE on this day of days. They get to see EVERYTHING (yes, sometimes literally everything). They are witness to every emotion and in full technicolour with surround sound - it’s like watching a screen drama unfold yet you are the director deciding which moments are to be collected. This is your vision of one of the biggest days of somebody else’s life. I find this concept absolutely thrilling and fascinating.

So this blog is a hats off to all Wedding Photographers. You are work horses who continue to smile through the pain and doubt and uncertainty. Have a virtual medal from me and then budge up, as I want to join your ranks.

Wet feet and creaking floorboards part II

‘Take my photo’ as I turned around a mobile phone was shoved into my face. The narrow, curved bridge felt isolated. Two men who had previously been in close discussion where I now stood, slouched at one end of the bridge. Pigeons skimmed just above us, blurred in flight against a dirty white sky.

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Bridal Preparation - my first wedding

It struck me……..

As I stepped into the house where the bride was getting ready that I was about to be witness to an incredibly private, stressful, happy scene. I was about to see the bride either at her worst or best or balancing between the two. I was about to see the bride as no one else sees her; captured through my lens which would reveal my interpretation of her and this intimate scene.

I felt nervous. Really, really nervous. And not just about getting great images. I was nervous because this is one of the biggest days of this person’s life and here she is, amongst the bustle and chatter of the bridesmaids, hairdresser, make up artist, celebrant, various family members with last minute questions - here she is amidst all of this busy energy and I wondered you must feel quite lonely. You must want to be comforted by the one person tradition says it is unlucky to see - your future husband’ .

I remember how I had felt on my wedding day. You do not get a moment by yourself and then, when you do, the nerves are waiting to taunt you.

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Landie, who was photographing with me, and I began to busy ourselves. Nervous that we had not done this before, we stuck to our list and doubled up on all of our shots. The light in the dark house wasn’t too challenging but I had my flashes set up just in case. The light coming in from the window was softened by the pastel wall colours.

The bride remained calm.

We were now two photographers, two bridesmaids, one hairdresser, one make up lady, one celebrant and the bride.

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Everything had been meticulously planned by Nina. Everything was running like clockwork and the bridesmaids were thoughtful and helpful. The champagne was opened, last minute details were being attended to and they made time for the bride to open some gifts from them.

The first hour was fairly relaxed. After which, Landie and I flitted between the house of the groomsmen to that of the bridal party. Guests were making appearances around the wedding village. It was set to be a warm day in Gascony. The old stone houses kept the worst of the heat at bay. The preparations continued.

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‘Can we photograph the dress, please?’

I was really looking forward to this. What a privilege to have access to this part of the preparation - the DRESS.

The bride had kept her cool and was extremely gracious.

Time for a drink to steady the nerves?

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One last photo before leaving this safe haven of privacy to wait in the garden anxiously listening out for the song that will indicate the bride’s cue to move towards the place of the ceremony..

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The couple were married at Castelnau des Fieumarcon, Gascony, South West France http://www.lagarde.org

castelnau-des-fieumarcon by Littlewing Photos

An intro - I'm late to this game

Like most of us, I've always had some form of camera which I have grabbed and clicked to capture the image, without too much thought. 

The results would show that lack of thought.  Sometimes you would get lucky - as I sometimes did with my first DSLR bought for me 11 years ago.  These cameras are clever and in Auto mode capture the moment,  but,  as I found, it often lacked something. What that was, I wasn't sure as the image was technically correct: technically correct but dull.

So I started shooting in Manual exclusively about two years ago and although it gave me a good grasp of how shutter speed and aperture work, I was still only getting the images I wanted sometimes (some of which are on this site).  I wanted good images every time.

Then a friend asked me to photo document a journey she was about to go on  - 'People tell me that they like your photos', she had said, 'so I wondered if you would photograph this.'    I had to get this right as it was too important and sensitive not to.

The first session changed everything for me photographically as I took lots of bad images.  I was nervous, not sure of what I should be doing, placing myself badly, not adjusting to the changing conditions of light or composition.  Most importantly, I wasn't taking the time to have the correct settings in a situation where I could have. When I loaded the images for editing, I groaned.  That particular moment of my friend's journey had passed and I had not caught the feeling of it.

I learned a lesson. In fact, I learned a few lessons but the first and most important one was learn everything your camera does or can do.   Second to this was, when possible, take time to get the image you want.

Photography is a creativity that I find fulfilling and exasperating at the same time.  I am seeing potential photos to take almost constantly. It doesn't switch off (particularly distracting when I'm driving). 

This year, I made the decision to embrace being a photographer more fully rather than it being just a hobby. 

Fingers crossed. 

 

 

 

 

Photo below was taken in September 2009 during a road trip from Manly, NSW to Uluru with four kids.  I got lucky with this shot by using my camera in Auto but could do with a bit of editing.

 

A very Aussie scene