There's something special about photographing a wedding. After all, it is the most important day in a woman's life (so they say...). But just as much enjoyment as shooting a wedding comes with, it also does come with a lot of pressure. I am no professional photographer, but I am not an amateur either; I'm somewhere in the middle, I guess.
I am at a stage where I don't feel comfortable charging a lot of money, if any, for wedding photography. Although I keep on developing my skills, learning different angles and secret camera tricks, I still have a lot to learn.
A few months ago, I was asked to photograph a wedding, and knowing the responsibility that comes with such project, I almost wanted to decline the offer, although it sounded like such an exciting idea to me. The way I see it, you have two options: you either don't charge anything and use the whole thing as a learning experience (which means you don't have the pressure to 'have to do a good job' and you can take your time to explore different ideas with your camera); or you charge very little but make it very clear to the couple that you are still learning. And this last one comes with quite a few challenges...firstly, they might choose to still keep you, but they'll want to hire another photographer just in case...(I'm talking a professional photographer particularly exceptional at shooting weddings). At the end of the day, if you mess up these photographs, there's no chance for a do-over, so you must understand the implications that messing up those photographs would have. And finally, if you end up having to share the photographic opportunities with another photographer who has way more experience than you do...things get a little tricky.
As the person with less experience, I have had to step back and let the other photographer take charge on a few occasions. And no, this isn't a particularly nice feeling. You do feel worthless. You will start questioning what the hell you are doing there and you will start asking yourself what's the point? But see, that's the beauty of it. That's when you need to get creative; that's when you need to carefully watch what the other photographers are doing, how they hold their cameras, how they position themselves, what creative photo ideas they come up with...but you won't be able to do this the first time. When it first happens to you, you will feel worthless. You will want to cry. You will want to fight with the other photographer. You will want them to get out of your way because they're in the way of your shots. It's hard!
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to photograph my very first wedding. I have made it very clear to the couple that I am no professional and still have lots to learn. I didn't charge for it, and it was up to them to decide if they wanted to hire another photographer to be there on the day. They didn't want to. They put all their trust in me - (talk about pressure...)!
I knew the bride, as she works for the same company I do, and after a lot of deliberation, I agreed to photograph her ceremony and party. And here's what I've learned from this experience: firstly, I need to get a proper flash for my camera. I thoroughly enjoyed photographing everything outside in the sun. The day was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, but give me a dark church where I'm not allowed to use flash, or give me a dark room with very low natural light, and I struggle a little. The flash that comes with my canon simply doesn't do the job once the sun sets and it gets dark. I need to get a professional one.
Secondly, I also learned that I'd like to invest in a macro lens, a portrait lens. One that creates the perfect background blur, with sharp images. I sorted this one out pretty quickly, because I found a great deal on amazon a few weeks ago.
I have now started using this newly purchased lens, a Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM. I am still learning how to use it and what it can do. But I look forward to experimenting with this lens as much as possible.
After having gone through the whole process of editing the wedding photographs, I have also decided that I want to get more into portrait photography. And this is a newly discovery even for me!
I was never into portrait photography. I don't know why but I always found it 'boring'...maybe boring isn't the right word. Maybe I always found more beauty in nature than in people - I guess I've been somehow manipulated into thinking this way. But somehow, I am now fascinated by human expressions and emotions, and I can't wait to dive more into this. I want to keep learning, and I can't wait to combine portrait photography with creative photography. I look forward to experimenting with both.
Have you ever photographed a wedding? How did you deal with the pressure when you first started? Have you ever been in a position where you felt uncomfortable sharing the same space with another photographer? Let me know in the comments.