It was probably bound to happen sooner or later, and it happened last weekend. The signs were there, but I didn’t recognize them. Things just happened so fast. Looking back, I might do things differently.
I was asked to bring my camera to a wedding and maybe take a few pictures. Just for fun, you know, if I wanted to. [Red Flag] It wasn’t supposed to interrupt me being a normal guest at the event. Everything was okay because they “had a guy.” Some people in the know might read this so I won’t go into the 6-degrees relationship of “the guy” but things didn’t quite work out, photographically, like the wedding party was hoping.
Unless you have a signed contract ahead of time, and are getting paid, you might want to leave your DSLR at home.
Let me first explain that I know enough about wedding photography to know that A) It’s dead-serious and an important business and B) There’s a ton of stuff I don’t know (You know, I know enough to know what I don’t know. Know what I’m sayin’?). It was okay, though, because I wasn’t THE photographer. They had a guy. Well, the guy went missing-in-action immediately after the ceremony and wasn’t there to take some of the crucial wedding party pictures. I wonder if, at this moment, the guy just didn’t care or if he thought screw this, this feels a lot like work. He reappeared for a bit but was then totally gone right after that. I mean, like, gone-gone. Like, “The Guy” had left the building-gone.
It was funny because I could swear that the cake hadn’t been cut yet. None of the dances had happened. The bouquet hadn’t been thrown, and the garter was still safely on the bride’s, um, person. Realizing these things, I had a sinking feeling. The heavy strap around my neck suddenly felt like an albatross. Everyone was looking at me, when they should have been looking at the new bride and groom. Also, the needle on the record had scratched off, my eyes were caught wide open, and I hoped that there was nothing green and leafy stuck in-between my teeth.
Having a big DSLR hanging on my shoulder, the pleas went out for me to step in and do something. What? I thought I was just a guest. Oh, Steve, just take a few pictures as a friend. Well . . . my name is Steve . . . I do have a camera and such . . . and . . . heck, I’d like to be a friend. And that was the moment I became THE photographer (Not officially, of course. I didn’t know where “The Guy” was at this point.). No contract, people. No preparation. I had no idea who was related to whom and how important different people were. I had NO FLASH and only a telephoto lens. But I was the person with the biggest camera on the scene, so therefore . . . well, I had a duty to do. We have a responsibility.
As unpleasant as the next few hours would be, I couldn’t, in good conscience, let the evening go away without at least trying to help. This should be one of the most important events in their lives, and they’ll probably want some pictures of it later on. I know the general flow of weddings, so I could kind of anticipate what would be happening next and where I’d need to be. So, with big DSLR and telephoto zoom in hand (and speed-light at home), I set forth to attempt to do some good.
I couldn’t believe how many people have no problem standing in front of the guy with the big camera who’s obviously taking the big pictures. Of course, I couldn’t ask any of these people to, you know, get out of my way, because I had no idea how important they were and I wasn’t the real photographer.
The whole evening was pretty much a blur. (Warning about a total camera geek-out here) The only thing that kept me calm was knowing that the one (again, telephoto) lens I had with me had a constant f/2.8 aperture. Yes, it was comforting. This was all outdoor, in the evening, with no flash. Sometimes it’s the “little” things.
Immediately after being “pronounced”
We could go through the standard images of bride and groom and relatives facing the camera, smiling in their finery. But you probably don’t know these people, so let’s just look at a few of (what I think are) the more interesting images.
They are now husband and wife
If you’ve seen my images before, you’re probably aware that I take precious few pictures of people. If there are people in my images, they are almost always incidental. One of the reasons I have avoided wedding photography is because it’s nothing but people pictures. And there’s people facing the camera with forced smiles and then there’s people just being themselves.
The primary wedding party
If I were a crude, immature man I might make a joke about this being the moment after the money shot. Fortunately I’m better than that. Hey, speaking of mature, let’s take a look at the garter toss.
Who’s next? (Get it?)
As much as I’m tempted, I’m not going to show the images that led up to this conclusion. Let’s just say that I was surprised at the technique employed and actually had my mouth hanging open for a period of time. Oh wait, did I mention that the man acting as Father-of-the-Bride is a touch insane?
Groom and Father-of-Bride Dancing
Yes, these people are my friends. I’m proud to call them such, and yes, I did have a good time with this. Oh, wait again. I’m pretty sure that I failed to mention something. Just as the ceremony was starting, as the guests were settling down in their seats and voices were hushing, something completely random happened. A 16(ish)-year-old girl pointed up to the sky and said, “Hey look! An eagle.”
I’m not entirely convinced this is an eagle. It seems a little hawkish to me. But the moment happened, and I was lucky enough to have a camera with me. Now, if only I had a longer telephoto at the time . . .