My first wedding as a photographer in June 2018 was a relative success. It all went reasonably well, no major hiccups and the client was pleased. I learnt a lot and all my preparation work paid off. It was a free gig for a friend so they got good value from me.
So good, another friend asked me to do the same on the back of the first one. However, this one was in Cyprus which presented some different challenges, as well as the usual.
The planning had to be as perfect as possible as I imagined there would be minimal chance to buy suitable equipment there if I forgot to take anything. I normally drive places but this time I was flying and had limited luggage space anyway, so everything had to be essential and nothing missing.
Fortunately I have enough experience to know what I may need, but a wedding in a location I had never visited with a wedding planner I had never spoken to in a pressurised situation was a bit scary. As it turned out, it was yet another learning opportunity.
The day started with my alarm at 6am and I left the venue at 2am the following morning, arriving back at the apartment at 4am after a 2 hour drive to the other side of the island. I reckon I had consumed about 20 glasses of diet coke during the day, had sweated so much my shirt was dripping wet and I had to warn people not to touch me or they would get an unpleasant shock.
There was quite a bit of rush on the day from the wedding planner who had another one scheduled just after ours. This resulted in backgrounds that were not always ideal, posing that was not carefully done, people wandering into the shot constantly, lighting that was difficult to manage (brilliant sun) and a dehydrating photographer.
It’s not easy doing it all on your own. An experienced and knowledgeable assistant is invaluable for this type of assignment, and I didn’t have one.
As usual, there were some schoolboy errors, but fortunately not too many and I took enough shots to overcome that problem. I also had an SD card that became corrupt. Fortunately the camera I primarily used and in which the card resided had two slots. With a bit of foresight I had set up the camera so that one slot saved the RAW file and the other slot the JPEG which meant I had a second copy of every photo. If not that would have been an anxious seven days until I got to a PC to check things out.
I backed up all the photos on to an SSD (apart from those on the corrupted card) and fortunately when I got home was able to recover (after three separate attempts – two of which failed) all of the photos on the corrupted card.
The couple had arranged a local videographer who was familiar with the hotel, staff and locality. He was also far more familiar with posing folks than I was. That put me at a distinct disadvantage and I ended up following his lead for most of the day. Fortunately he was a nice guy, very helpful and we worked together quite well. A discussion with the wedding planner and videographer in advance would have been advantageous to discuss timings, best places for shots etc. so I was prepared. Also what my requirements were. Making stuff up on the fly is not ideal.
I took over 5,000 photos, used half a dozen batteries and 448GB of SD card memory.
Overall, it was a good experience. I learnt many things as summarised below:
- Talk to the wedding planner, videographer or anyone else involved in the event. Establish how things are going down.
- Recruit an assistant if possible and make sure they know exactly what is required.
- Learn about posing folks, couples, individuals and groups. I don’t know enough about that currently and I need to. My usual documentary approach is not enough for most wedding clients so I need to learn.
- Check my kit list. And again. And again.
- Keep learning.
- Keep checking the camera settings.
- Keep checking the background.
- Recruit helpers to keep folks clear from behind the shots.
The task of choosing which photos to keep and which to delete was a laborious task. It seemed to take forever. Only once I was down to about 600 was I able to enjoy the process of potentially turning each image into one that would please the client (and me of course). Some of these didn’t work out edit wise and were also discarded.
Out of the 5,000+ photos I ended up with 563 usable ones that weren’t essentially duplicates. To be fair, I was there all day and night and most of the photos were of groups enjoying themselves and it required many photos to get one that worked in terms of composition. Hence the high loss rate following the ceremony.
I am now down to 285 photos which I’ve had printed. These and the rest of the 563 are on a memory stick as a fuller record of their day. About 150 of the printed ones are in a presentation box, which I customised to suit the theme of the wedding and I am looking forwards to giving it to them. I hope they’re pleased with the results.