Last Sunday, I flew up to Sunol, California to shoot my first wedding as lead (and sole!) photographer at Elliston Vineyards. I'm glad I did it because I learned a lot -- about my equipment, about weddings, about time constraints, about needing help!
*First of all, I worked too many hours without a break. I was too tired by the end of the night (I worked from about 9:30am to 7pm!); there was definitely the possibility for human error to seep in towards the end of the day. It could've happened -- but it didn't, praise the heavens! But the truth is, I wanted to be with the bride from start to finish. When I shadowed Valyssa's photographers at her wedding (Photo Shoot 6), I sensed the need for a photographer to be with her all day; thus it was my personal goal to do so with Katie. But seriously. I'm not Wonder Woman! Lesson: Next time, get serious about hiring help. An assistant could have photographed everything that didn't involve people (reception hall, centerpieces, favors, programs, decorations, etc.) I actually wrote that in my notes from last time. I guess I thought I could handle it. . .
Just a side note: A tremendous thank-you to Antonio, my good friend from Whittier College, who just happened to be a guest at the wedding, and who filled in (yet again!) as the last-minute extemporaneous photographer's assistant, usher, party-favor manager and coordinator (lavender-throwing), and the best all-purpose people director in the world! Another huge kiss! (Right: Antonio luring flower girl, Violet)
*I had actually planned on taking an hour or so for lunch because I knew I would need the break, but I lost track of time at the salon (where we spent the morning); I ended up only having about 15 minutes in between salon and hotel because Katie was already ahead of me. Lesson: Plan out the day & take personal breaks. Tell the bride I intend to plan for that so in case there's a moment "I miss," I won't be to blame because it was planned from the beginning. (Of course I thought about taking a break at the salon. But I didn't want to miss anything!)
*Even though I was dutifully prepared, once we arrived at the venue, things were very stressful. Not only did we have less time than I had anticipated, but it was raining -- all challenges for a first-timer. So I began prioritizing. (And suddenly I became the director of things. That was an amazing feeling!) I knew the "first look" was a priority (I didn't know this term before last weekend: it's the industry term for when the bride & groom first see each other), as was the wedding party -- so that's where I began. With the ceremony time closing in (4pm), I had to tie it up, and I still had a list of items I needed to get through with the bride and groom! Lesson: Be more strict about following the pre-planned schedule. Ask the bride & groom to be sure to be at the venue (or appointed place) no later than 15 minutes after the originally appointed time. Other than being on time for the ceremony, I now believe this is the next most important appointment to keep on a wedding day! (Fortunately, we got lucky with the weather -- the rain eased up around 3:30 and there were enough cloud breaks to continue the photos and ceremony as planned!)
*I was more than prepared battery-wise. I brought 4 Canon batteries, fully charged, my new battery grip and 50 extra AAs just in case. I only used two of the Canon batteries, which I have discovered are very well made and last quite a long time. I could've used a flash pack so my flash would reboot faster but, finances aside, my Speedlite did a great job.
*I typed up all my notes and thought about them forwards and backwards for months beforehand, and I retyped them the night before. And they actually served me well on the day of. A little unwieldy to carry maybe, but they worked!
*Pre-planning is key: the day before (during the rehearsal), I decided where all the pictures would take place beforehand. It worked out great!
*Once at the venue, I was fast and efficient with the time frame I had. No one became over tired or grouchy.
*I remained with the bride. All day. And I loved every moment of it.
Post-production is still on-going, but here are just a few of my favorites so far. (I will post again when my packaging arrives! Exciting!) Until then, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and especially to thank you for your enduring support and love. I don't know that I could've done it without you. (Sorry -- I know "you" is a floating pronoun and somewhat impersonal, but all of my antecedents know who they are. . . I love you!)
(Click once to enlarge)