I LOVE shooting weddings. It’s seriously one of my favorite things to do. It’s also incredibly challenging. I have a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the easiest wedding ever, 10 being the worst, most stressful, four-hour-late, everything-goes-wrong type of wedding. Monique and Miguel’s Vintage Gardens wedding on Saturday ended up being about a 6, which was really difficult without making me want to kill myself. The funny thing is, it was our new intern Christion’s first rodeo, and he too was swept up in the tornado that was his first wedding.
Right off the bat, it was chaotic, like most weddings. But in this case, it was extremely challenging for me. After taking some wicked awesome detail shots (which included climbing on furniture), I set up where I wanted Monique to stand for the getting ready shots of her mom helping her into her dress. The videographers had two cameras in the tiny room, and they kept closing the French doors, saying, “We need this closed.”
“I need light. I’m going to stand out there. I need these doors open.” *I open them.*
“No.” *She closes them, almost slamming my hand in the door*
“I’m going to stand outside, I need the doors open.”
Monique said, “SHE’S GOING TO STAND OUTSIDE LEAVE THE DOORS OPEN!”
I mean, this is not rocket science. Daylight is MUCH better quality than yellow florescent lights. PS videographers: You’re not the only ones shooting.
While running around the entire venue, shooting details, getting ready, reception details, groom getting ready, etc, Christion said, “You move fast” and I said, “Yep! Move it!” He did great keeping up, never complaining once, and helped in any way he could. He gets an A+ for sure.
I know I got some great shots that day, but I’m really disappointed, because I had very little time to take photos. (I shot 13 rolls of film in 7 hours, and I normally shoot 20 rolls in that time.) For instance, when I photographed Monique getting into her dress, I did what I always do. I put her in the light I wanted, then told them to ignore me and go for it. I shoot it and move on. But after she’s done, the videographer says, “OK, now come outside here and pretend to do that again.” Then he spent ten minutes having them repeat the same actions over and over again. The same with the groom’s prep. I had told the groom to not get all the way dressed until we did photos, but when I went down into the wine cellar to get him, he was all done. I said, “I need you to take off your tie and vest, and undo your cuffs. Let’s go upstairs where there’s window light.” So, again, I put him facing the window (the videographer wanted his back to the window). As he was in the good light, I let him put on his tie, cuff links, vest, jacket, as I photographed it all. Then I said, “Awesome thank you!!!” The videographer then had him pretend to put on his tie, then take off his jacket and put it back on. Five times. Five times he had him take his jacket off his shoulders and shrug into it again. Five. Times.
What was challenging about working with these particular videographers was that their style is completely opposite of mine. They stage LITERALLY EVERYTHING. Literally. Everything. Everything. Staged. As in, “OK now everyone walk toward me … OK go back an do it again … OK now do it again. Pretend to zip the dress. OK now do it again.” This means that I had five minutes to photograph the bride with her bridesmaids because the videographer had taken so much time staging various shots. This is why it’s important to find a videographer who has a similar work style to your photographer. If you hire a photojournalistic photographer, and a videographer who stages EVERYTHING, things will take forever, there will be conflict, and they’ll get in each other’s way. If you want a photographer who is going to shoot photojournalistically and capture moments as they’re happening, tell that to videographers when you are interviewing them. Otherwise, everything has to be done twice. Don’t get me wrong, their video is going to be awesome. He has some really creative ideas, which include running right into my shot at any given moment. But to me, even if the video is awesome, it’s all staged. None of the prep or portraits are genuine capture. They aren’t “moments,” they’re poses. I personally don’t like that style.
As at every wedding, we were on a strict timeline. That went out the window due to what’s mentioned above as well as some other factors I don’t even know about. The ceremony started 40 minutes late. Guess what that means? It means I lost 45 minutes of light for after-ceremony photos. Now THAT is stressful. There is nothing I can do about the sun setting. I can’t be like, “Hey, God, I got royally ripped off here. Can I get another hour of light?”
The ceremony was especially fun… 80% of my ceremony photos have the videographer’s camera in my shot. Every time I set up a shot and was waiting for something to happen, the videographer shoved his camera right into my shot, just as I was hitting the shutter. The strange part about this is that we had a very friendly and nice conversation before the wedding, and we agreed on what was going to happen. He promised he wouldn’t be in my shots. Sadly, I’ll be delivering a LOT of ceremony photos with his camera in them. The bride is not happy about that, but at least she’s not mad at me. I did my BEST. I tried everything, getting closer, zooming in, moving to another spot but oh look there’s a camera shoved in front of me just as I’m shooting! Goodie goodie gumdrops!
After the ceremony I was watching the sun sink in the sky, and I knew how little time I had. Once done with bridal party and family photos (20 minutes total), I said I needed to get the bride and groom’s photos done, like NOW, because I was losing light. The videographer said no, he needed a shot, so he set them up on a path and had them walk towards each other, then used some different camera angles. I’m panicking, watching my light disappear, and I said, “OK we need to get these photos done.” He completely ignored me and had them do the shot two more times. When the sun dipped below the trees and we literally had no more light hitting the venue, I walked towards them and said, “I need them for photos NOW. You’re DONE.” (Monique was thankful because she was annoyed at how long his shot was taking.) I said, “If I don’t start now, the bride and groom will get NO photos.” And I took them away, racing towards a gate where there were remnants of golden light.
Monique was so stressed out because she hates being rushed. She hated starting late. I said, “Honey, it’s ok. This is YOUR day! You look GORGEOUS! I have light, and the party isn’t starting without you. We’ll take the time we need. The bar is open! They don’t even notice you’re not there!” We had a good laugh, then I shot shot shot shot … literally firing off ten different angles and vantage points per minute. Good thing I had my Sketchers on!
I absolutely love direct golden light. Here’s a bleached Polaroid negative of my fave spot, which was literally outside the garden, in a PARKING LOT! You gotta do what you gotta do!
Then it was time to photograph the reception events. During the special dances, one videographer was using a tripod and had the video light going, which was helpful for me, but the other videographer kept running into my shots and running circles around the bride and groom, videoing their faces, hands, butts, whatever else. During the bouquet toss, guess what was in the corner of my shot? If you said a video camera, you just won all the change in the bottom of my purse. Then, during the garter toss, while Miguel was under Monique’s dress taking the garter off, the videographer got in my shots again. This had been happening for six hours at this point, so I stepped closer to the couple, but I could still see him. I turned to him and said, “Your lens is in EVERY ONE of my shots. EVERY ONE. STOP doing THAT,” as I put my hand in his face and motioned for him to MOVE BACK. So, my bride will have a ton of photos with a video camera or a videographer in them. I was super annoyed, so later during dancing, I started walking back and forth in front of both video cameras over and over. Monique saw me and cracked up, because she knew exactly what I was doing. (Later Monique told me that her makeup artist had done the same thing I did, telling the videographer to go away and saying, “You’re DONE!” because he was in her light.)
The reception had some other great shenanigans, like an iPhone being stolen from the bridal party table. Miguel got on the mic and said, “NOT COOL!” and said a few things. He was extremely angry, and I guess his speech got to the thief, because the phone showed up later on a random table. Then Monique couldn’t find their marriage license. Their minister didn’t have it and the witnesses hadn’t signed it yet. Monique and I just stood there and laughed because of all the little things that had gone wrong. But whatever! She felt beautiful, they’re married, and they had a blast. That’s all that matters!
After a long day, we broke down our photo booth and loaded up the truck and the Jetta. On my way home I saw that I had two missed calls from Christion, so I called him back while I was sitting at a stoplight. My bluetooth didn’t connect (AGAIN, but apparently I’m imagining it because Mark says there’s nothing wrong with it), so I was holding the phone in my hand and talking on speaker mode. Then I look to my right, and there’s a cop car next to me, the officer staring at me with zero expression on his face. I smiled really cute and put the phone in my lap. He turned away and when the lights turned green, I went left and he went straight, so apparently it pays to be a cute girl, because he totally could’ve given me a ticket for that. I laughed the rest of the way home…