Monday, May 2, 2011

Wedding photographers can keep their gig

When you are known as a photographer you get all kinds of request to 'take my picture'. You know what that's like. If you are the one usually behind the camera you have experienced this. But it's never that easy is it. Sure enough, that happened to me recently.

My background is in product photography. I make inanimate objects look pretty so they can be sold on line or in a catalog. I can arrange it, light it, poke, prod, push, tweak, and otherwise molest the hell out of an object and IT WON'T COMPLAIN! I can take my time and adjust the hell out of everything until I get the results I am looking for. I can't do that with people. They don't have the same patience with me that a piece of jewelry does. Go figure.

However, when a close friend was getting married and asked me if I was willing to take picture at the wedding, I couldn't say no. I must also let you know that they had already hired a photographer so I was off the hook for all the 'important' shots. All they wanted from me were 'additional' pictures. All the candid and superfluous images of guests doing the crazy stuff the photographer won't get.

However, I looked at this as an opportunity to try my hand at wedding photography. I learned several valuable lessons for my little social experiment and the first was that I was grossly unprepared for this type of photography. For one, my equipment is not geared to low light situations such as shooting in a dim church where the use of flash is frowned upon. Not only frowned upon but can send you to HELL with one glance from an angry priest. I'm used to working with lights I can put anywhere.

The second is the sheer pressure of having to produce quality images with ONE CHANCE IN EVER to get it. That's right, there are no, 'let's reset that shot' as the bride walks down the isle. You miss that moment and it's gone forever. Now take that and multiply it by, oh some ridiculous number and you'll understand the pressure a wedding photographer has to deal with.

Which leads me to an observation about photography groups. There are various levels of photographers, from beginners to pros. However, there is so much involved with photography and there are so many areas of specialization that even someone with the label of pro can not know it all. There is always someone that comes along with a little piece of information, that little nugget of a tip that will humble the pro into understanding that there is always something else to learn.

So remember your roots, help yourself by helping others and you'll find that learning is indeed a two way street. While you may find that you are good at one thing, you may also find that it's best to leave the wedding photography to the professionals.

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