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Shooting your first ever wedding

I have to admit, when I first started out in photography, i never imagined I’d be where I am now, doing what I’m doing. I knew that wedding photography was one of the easiest/most common ways to make money in our industry, so naturally (like the nonconforming individual that I was) I was adamant that it wasn’t going to be me. I didn’t want to become the cliché photographer.

However, sometimes life leads you down a strange wiggly path to make you realise that you’re exactly where you were meant to be. My journey through portraiture naturally progressed into weddings (partly when I realised how hard it is to make an income in portraits). All it took was a friend of a friend enquiring if I do weddings. Suddenly within the space of a few months I had more than 4 wedding requests and absolutely no wedding portfolio to sell them with. This led to me picking up a cheap gig for a lesbian wedding on a photographer job platform for an hour long shoot of a wedding in a registry office for hardly any money. I knew the experience would be worth it and give me a small base for my portfolio if it went well. The job was short notice, so I never got chance to check out the venue or to even meet the couple beforehand. I was going in completely blind and inexperienced. Baring in mind the fact that we’re mid pandemic and the rules for weddings were constantly changing.

The day was fast approaching and the weather forecast was not on our side. Rain predicted all day, excellent. The brief entailed that the couple requested the ceremony to be photographed along with group and couple photos outside the front of the building and in the local gardens. I contacted the couple to discuss a plan B and they decided they’d like to use clear umbrellas. Believing I could work with that and wanting to make the couple happy I invested in a professional waterproof camera cover to make me prepared.

The day arrived and the “rain showers” that we predicted turned out to be a full blown storm with gale force winds. There was not a chance a brolly was going to hack it but I turned up nonetheless willing to try. I arrived a little bit early to find another wedding party there with their own photographer. Unsure if I was in the right place or not I did a lap of the block until that party left. Still unaware of what my wedding couple even looked like, I kept my eyes peeled for some white dresses.

The nerves that you inevitably face when shooting your first wedding are so real. I get a little bit nervous for most of my shoots if I don’t really know what to expect. I always thought that the pressure of shooting someones wedding day would be too much for me, you’re their only chance, if you mess up then they can’t do this day again. I guess that’s why it took me so long to get to this point, I never felt confident enough with my own ability to know that I wouldn’t fuck it up.

So I rock up absolutely drenched from the storm and ready for anything. I find my wedding party all huddled inside away from the wind. We get ushered into the ceremony room whilst the brides have a pre wedding interview. Complying to the latest restrictions the guests sit two meters apart in they’re soggy coats and all keep their masks on. This makes it challenging to get nice natural photos of them, especially when there’s only 6 of them and they’re all staring at me. I quickly take a few snaps and attempt to correct my settings for the room before the couple enter. Unsure of where I was allowed to stand and whether I was allowed to move around, I quickly collar the priest to ask. He states that as long as I stay 2 meters away from everyone then I can move, this is easier said than done in such a small ceremony room, but I comply as best I can. The ceremony is short and sweet, neither of them wrote their own vows and the iconic “you may kiss the bride” moment didn’t happen. After the priest did his thing he motioned to me to do mine. Flustered, and unsure of what I should be shooting I improvised and asked the couple to move around into poses I thought would make the best images. The priest then informed me that "most photographers photograph here" so I felt as though I had to comply and swiftly moved the couple along to the "popular spot" and continued shooting. After stating that I was willing to attempt shooting in the rain, the couple admitted defeat with the outdoor shots and said they were happy with the indoor ones. They seemed sufficiently happy with what I'd taken, however with plenty of time remaining on my booking I suggested an alternative spot in the building to get some more variety and some more intimate shots of just the two of them.

It was a surreal afternoon and it was over so quickly, I am so grateful that my first wedding couple were so lovely and understanding despite how stressful weddings can be. It definitely gave me a thrill to be a part of someones special day. Let's hope it's the first of many.


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