My first wedding

Are there any amateur photographers out there who haven’t been approached to do a wedding for a friend for free?

“You’ve got a nice camera, can you do my wedding?”

“I saw a nice photo you took on Facebook, can you do my wedding?”

“I can’t afford a proper photographer, can you do my wedding?”

Sound familiar?

Not to me. After several years of serious photography, I’ve only ever been asked just once and recently. I was flattered, worried and seriously concerned. I’m an amateur, I’ve seen what professionals produce and I can’t measure up, but I knew the couple would want me to even though they also know I just do this as a hobby. If you have a good camera you can take good pictures right?

I only agreed because it was neither of their first weddings and they were pretty relaxed about it. I have a candid style and that is what they were looking for.

I prepared for it like a military exercise, knowing it would be completely different on the day. I had my checklists leading up to the day, everything out, tested, practiced, charged and synchronised.

I was afraid I would miss the special moments, like the kiss. I use an older model Fuji and focussing can be a bit hit and miss. What if my camera is hunting for focus when it mattered and I missed something important?

I decided all I could do was my best. Prepare as much as I could, stay focussed and hope it went well.

On the day I had to contend with humongous backlight on the group shots outdoors, focus hunting at the night do when the lighting was poor, and a flash that overheated and stopped working.

But my preparation had paid off. I had thought through the various scenarios and when I encountered a problem, reverted to what I had prepared ‘just in case’. When I hadn’t thought it through, I used my experience such as it was, to deal with it. It all worked on the day. It was a relative success. Out of 2,500 taken, 10% were unusable for various reasons, 75% were discarded and 15% went into the presentation box and onto the USB stick for the client.

Would I do it again? Yes I would. I enjoyed it; it was a great learning experience. I knew I could do a decent job and I did. I wouldn’t do a formal wedding; it’s neither my experience nor style. The more candid approach works for me, and if the couple are good with that then I’m good to go.

One day I hope to do this as a part time job. Whilst I’ve been unable to do a second shooter gig at a wedding so far, I know I can only gain the experience I need by doing it myself.

One down and after the photos were published I now find I have another wedding to do. After I get a few under my belt I’ll look at the money side. But for now, I’m happy to enjoy myself and contribute to their big day.

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