Don’t Shoot the Wedding, Shoot AT the Wedding
I always have problems getting family and friends to pose for nice candid portraits.
My son has responded to my attempts to
photograph him with his raised middle finger so many times that a few
Christmas' ago he gave me a coupon book with; "10 photos without the
finger". Most often my subjects don't go to such extremes, but
resort to the usual excuses; “I'm busy”, “Not in these cloths” and the standard,
“Oh, I look horrible”. Frustrating. Now imagine a situation in
which everyone is dressed beautifully, with make-up fully installed. Place
all these people on a happy occasion, in a lovely location, and enfold them all
in an atmosphere in which everyone expects to be photographed. Ok, now you have
a wedding, and there is no better opportunity to capture beautiful candid
"Do You Do Weddings"
Over the years I have been asked the dreaded question numerous times, “Do you do weddings”. Each time I dutifully explain that I am primarily a landscape photographer and that brides are definitely NOT the same as trees. I then discuss how wedding photography is a very specialized art form and that it would be insane to risk the most important remembrance of their special day on an amateur. Usually By this point I have convinced the couple to seek professional help and I am off the hook. If I am attending the wedding I will typically add that I will be bringing my camera and that they will be welcome to use any of my pictures they like. And that’s my opening.
On a couple of occasions I have been approached at a wedding by a distraught bride panicked by the fact that the official photographer had been suddenly taken sick or had suffered a car break-down. In those situations I have expanded my portfolio to help capture the event. I agree to this only on the condition of low expectations and that no money will change hands. For Matt and Crystal’s wedding I actually photographed decorations, and a few set group poses. I had fun but these experiences have only served to reinforce my commitment to never take a formal wedding job.
The Wedding Advantage
A wedding is a great opportunity, but I found that a few simple rules can improve the experience.
First and most importantly, stay out of the wedding photographer’s way and don’t steal his/her set shots. Photographers work hard to get everything right and they don’t need a bunch of leeches trying to feed off all that effort. Often the key moment lasts only a second and, if uncle Herb jumps in front to block the magic, the resulting homicide will be fully justifiable.
Keep things unobtrusive and fun. Know when to back off. A few people may not want to photographed. Unlike the wedding photographer you don’t have to get every shot, just grab the ones you like and are welcome.
Watch your background. Weddings can get pretty hectic making for excessively busy and distracting backgrounds. Shooting wide open to restrict the depth of field can help, but sometimes a step or two to one side or the other can yield a much simpler background.
And finally , don't forget to have a good time. As you record all the joy and excitement pause, put the camera down in a safe place, and get crazy on the dance floor.