Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I Shot My First and Last Wedding

I think my subject title says it all in terms of my attitude about shooting weddings. For those of you who do this, either full-time, part-time, or sometimes, my hat's off to you. I was toast the day after shooting the wedding. Freakin' wore me out!

It was a G-Job. For those of you not acquainted with that term, the "G" stands for gratis and the photography was our gift, that is, a wedding gift from my daughter, son-in-law, their kids, and myself, to the bride and groom. My daughter was in the wedding party as were her children. (Three-year-old grand-daughter was dressed as a faerie. She was the flower-girl. My 5-yr-old grandson was the ring bearer. I'm now calling him Frodo.)

The bride and my daughter have been steadfast friends since pre-school--they're both in their mid-20s now--and my loving daughter "volunteered" me to shoot the wedding.

Thanks, sweetheart!

It was a rather unique wedding. It was held at the Colony Theater in Burbank, Ca. The Colony is a well-known theatrical venue. It's a two or three hundred seat "equity" playhouse. (Meaning it operates as a signatory company to Actors Equity, the stage actors union.)

The groom is an aspiring writer/director and the bride works as a special effects MUA. The groom wrote and directed a 30-minute play, with a cast of about a dozen actors, as part of the ceremony. The play recounted their first meeting, through their courtship, and ending with his proposal. It was very well done, humorous, and the crowd of about 100 or so guests loved it! Then, the actual wedding ceremony took place on the stage. Reception was later on, at another location.

For the play and ceremony, I used two cameras, my 5D and my 20D. On the 5D was my 17-40 f/4 L and on the 20D I had my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. I shot the play and the ceremony using available stage lighting. My 5D was set at ISO 1000 and my 20D at ISO 800. Afterward, we shot some cast photos and I used a Canon speedlite on my 5D, ETTL, with the ISO set at 200.

I had my 13 yr old son assisting me, mostly schlepping gear. Gave him $20 for the day which he has already spent on iPod apps. I've tried, in the past, to get him interested in photography... but to no avail. By the end of the evening, however, he was running around with my 5D shooting people at the reception. (By that time, I was asking people to stick a fork in me cuz I was done!)

My son has a pretty good eye! I gave him some tips on framing and composition and he quickly incorporated those tips into his shooting style. Who knows? Maybe he'll get into photography a bit? Would rather see him doing that then spending so much time on his iPod, PSP, PlayStation, X-Box, GameCube, and all that stuff.

Other than chimping while shooting, I haven't yet looked at a single frame I shot. (It's now 3 days since the event.) I was stressing out over shooting this for two weeks or more. On the day of the wedding, I was beyond stressed, perspiring like like a pig. (Do pigs sweat?) Anyway, how you wedding shooters deal with the stress, I have no clue. I mean, it ain't like you can mess up and say, "Let's reshoot." Plus, other than the formal portrait stuff, you have so little control over what's going on. And then there's all those "can't miss" moments which, I think (and hope) I covered. BTW, I shot the formal portraits with my Zeus pack-n-heads. That was the easy part of the day... leastwise, for me it was.

I'm not a control freak but, when I'm in my normal shooting element, I usually have control over nearly everything. Not so with weddings! Again, my hat's off to you wedding shooters. JimmyD won't be vying for available wedding work or competing with any of you in the foreseeable future... unless, maybe, when pigs--sweating or not--grow wings and start flying.

The pretty girl at the top isn't the bride in her wedding gown. It's Cytherea, from a few years ago.


sixeightnick said...


I am fortunate to also have been "volunteered" to shoot one of my wife's colleagues' wedding gratis as you say. Not at all looking forward to this. This is supposed to be our wedding gift. Not digging this at all. I was put in a position where I can't really say no, as much as I would like to. This wedding is coming up in the spring so we'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

There aren't many people that I would "give" a $3000.00 wedding gift to. No freebies for me.

Pay me full price and I will give you a crock pot and maybe a toaster if we are real close.

Javier G said...

Although I get what you're saying, but I'm thinking you hated that wedding because it was pushed on to you , and compared to shooting pretty girls it might not hit a chord with you.
I totally get the "no control" of it all and specially the "you've got to work with the bride's ego and perceived needs". But I've seen lots of interesting images enough to get me interested in trying for it.
The thing always is, that we as photographers aren't interested in just the money but the images as well, if you hated shooting pretty girls after a while you would of stopped. Same thing with wedding photographers, at the moment I'm not sure if I would be able to like the environment but you sure can get stunning and breath taking images that can only be made in that genre.

jimmyd said...

There aren't many people that I would "give" a $3000.00 wedding gift to.

Trust me, that conversation and those words, leastwise, similar words, came up. I have a very determined and convincing daughter who still knows how to "work" her father.

BigV said...

My son is going to be married next year. He asked me if I was going to do the photography. I used to do weddings when I was younger and in better shape.

I told him I would gladly PAY someone else to do the photos. I wish to enjoy the wedding.

Anonymous said...

Did you ask your daughter to cut the check to the photographer you'd hire to do the job? That puts it in perspective pretty quickly.

John said...

Grandpa JimmyD?
Whoooooa! Whole new perspective...
Nice shot.
I've never shot a wedding. Don't think I'll ever want to.

Frank Wise said...

Hey Jimmy,

Got a wedding coming up soon, and I need a 2nd. Interested? I'd be more than happy to return the favor by helping you out on 1 of your shoots ;-)

jimmyd said...

@Frank Wise,

I'd love to Frank. Oh, wait... Dammit! I'm busy that day. When is the wedding again? No matter, I'm busy... or I will be. :-O

jimmyd said...


Grandpa JimmyD?
Whoooooa! Whole new perspective...

Yeah. Even more so for me!

David Sanz said...

I do shoot weddings, and I fully understand you, but for me and I guess for other wed-photographers, that stress thing is part of its charm or appealing magic.

Nevertheless,one always misses the control you have at studio.

Anonymous said...

I've shot precisely one wedding, as a favour to a work collegue who's son was getting married on a shoestring budget.

To be honest, I didn't like a single image I shot that day, I had no chance to scope out the locations ahead of time, and they were poor (brown painted walls and ceiling for the reception room?).

And to add insult to injury, as soon as I stood up what seemed like a small army of people with their mobile phones swarmed around me to get their own priceless images.