Tag Archives: wedding photography

Shooting my first wedding

I am extremely happy to be able to say I photographed my first wedding over the weekend!

My friend Jackie had booked this gig for us last year when she found out her sister-in-law’s mother was getting remarried. The only info I really had was that we were going to shoot this wedding together, it was a small wedding and it was the second marriage for both. So we knew it was going to be fairly low key. This turned out to be the perfect first job for us!

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I have seriously never had more fun in my life. I could absolutely see myself doing this full time one day down the road. The whole mood of the day was happiness and joy and being able to capture that for this amazing, beautiful couple made me feel so happy and feel so honored! I learned a lot, and hopefully can take some of these lessons or thoughts and use them towards future weddings I may photograph.

In fact, another friend of mine has asked me to assist her in a few of her weddings for 2013 as her second photographer, so I’m really excited to get back to the wedding scene in a few weeks! I am always trying to better myself as a photographer, as this is something I take pretty seriously. I already know I will learn so much from her because she is such a talented photographer in all things.

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So like I said, I did have some takeaways*. Most of these things I already follow or try to follow with any session I do, but weddings are pretty different! I’m sure I’ll be making a mental list of things to always keep in mind when asked to photograph a wedding, but here are some things I wanted to share! :)

  • Have your gear prepped! I can not stress this enough. I always make sure my SD card is cleared before any session I have. I charge both my batteries, get my flash situated, have my camera bag packed with the lenses I need, props in order, tripod, etc. It’s so important to be prepared! I get everything packed, lined up and ready to go the night before.
  • Have a backup! Since this wedding was a two-person job, my backup was my partner in crime. On the off chance something did happen to my camera, I knew she would be able to get the shots I couldn’t! Having a second camera body ready to go, though, definitely doesn’t hurt.
  • BE EARLY. I’m always at least 15 minutes early for any session I have booked, but it’s essential for a wedding! This is their day, their time, their money. You definitely don’t want to be late. If they say “Meet us where we’re getting ready at 5.”, you get there at 4:45 or earlier.
  • Remember you’re a vendor. You aren’t there as a guest. You are a vendor providing a service. Try to wear all black or muted colors so you blend in and don’t stand out. Also make sure you eat! You may be shooting for up to 10 hours in one day and you will be on your feet for the majority of the time. Make sure you dress comfortably with comfortable shoes, and eat something. It’s usually customary that the bride and groom offer you a seat and dinner at their wedding reception.
  • Scope out the area beforehand. This was a bit harder for us, since it was such a low key wedding, but we did get to the city where the wedding was a few hours in advance so we scoped out the area then. If at all possible, make sure to check out the wedding venue (if it’s unfamiliar to you), reception area, possible photographing areas outside or down the road, a week or two in advance. It also helps to figure out the route and time to get to said location so you have an idea on that.
  • Communicate. This seems like a no brainer, but it’s so important to communicate with the bride and groom. Make sure you have discussed their wants and needs or what their expectations are beforehand, if possible. It helps keeps flow during the day and also ensures they get the photos they absolutely must have. Keep open communication with the planner or who ever is in charge of making sure the night has good flow. You’ll want to know when the reception begins, when the first dance is, when the cake cutting is, etc. so you don’t miss any moment of it!
  • Be in control. Yes, this is a wedding so it’s going to be somewhat chaotic at times, but you have to keep things rolling. We literally only had 40-45 minutes for photos between the time after the ceremony and the reception starting. So we had to keep things moving and ensure all the photos they wanted to have taken, were done. Family members were prepared to stand in and what not. The bride later thanked us for being in control since she found herself easily distracted by saying hi and hugging friends who would linger back after the ceremony.
  • Don’t forget candids. This seems like a simple enough thing, but some of the most fun pictures I snapped were the ones of people talking during the reception, the bride dancing with her grand daughter, the bride and groom sneaking a kiss here and there, or people taking photos of other people with their smart phones. It definitely helped having a zoom lens where I could stand in the back of a room to be able to capture said moments.
  • Have fun. Easier said than done, but if you’re at all stressed or worried, it will show in the pictures. Remain calm, have fun, keep things light!

I already know some things I want to definitely make sure of with future weddings. I also hope to have a bit more gear before the next one too. While I had rented a pretty awesome lens for the weekend, I definitely know which ones I want to add to my camera bag permanently so I’m starting to save up for those! I hope to get another camera body too.

The bottom line is I had so much fun. I can’t wait to share some of the photos. It will definitely take me a while to get through all these and then edit them, but that’s half the fun. Stay tuned!

*I’m not a professional wedding photographer (…yet ;)…), so these opinions and thoughts are my own! You will undoubtedly have your own routine, procedure or way of handling your photo sessions!

Engagement Photos

A few weeks ago we had our engagement session with our wedding photographer Nena Metcalf. A lot of people looked at me weird when I said we were doing this now, and four months before our wedding no less. I guess REB and I aren’t that conventional when doing these types of things. Most people would have these photos done shortly after they get engaged so they can send them out with their Save the Dates (if they do those). Ideally we should have done this but it was kind of hard with our photographer being out of state. I realized the only real reason I wanted to have photos done was because REB and I don’t have any photos of us together that look really nice. We have the ones we’ve taken of us together from vacations, but nothing professional that captures us as we are.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love photography and how picky I can be. I’m not a professional, but I have pretty high standards when it comes to wedding photography. My sister can vouch for this. Her and I are both ridiculous perfectionists about certain things (she’s more of a perfectionist than I am on a lot of things, though ;)). After REB and I got engaged and started planning our wedding, it was decided that I would pick our photographer.

I looked through so many websites that offered links to local photographers in Michigan. There are so many talented people in this profession, but they weren’t grabbing my attention the way I wanted. Then I remembered a friend of mine who is a professional photographer and I went to her site and was blown away. The only problem? She lives in Texas.

I took my chances and emailed her anyway and told her how much I loved her work and was interested in her being our wedding photographer. I was happy when Nena obliged. If you haven’t been over to her site, take a peek! It’s wonderful.

I’ve known Nena since high school. Her and I were band nerds and although we weren’t the closest of friends, we had a lot of mutual friends. I knew she was one of the sweetest girls ever and was involved in a lot of school activities. She moved to Texas after getting married and has settled there raising her three beautiful children. She made a name for herself down there as one of the top wedding photographers in the area and her work shows it.

One of the absolute best things about her besides the obvious, was how patient and professional she was. She gave us her little schpeel of how she shoots photos, but then we were on our way. We had talked about Gryff being in our photos, so I had a friend of mine help out for the session holding Gryff when Nena wanted photos of just REB and me, holding treats up so Gryff would look at the camera, making him excited, etc. Nena’s wonderful hubby was there too and was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He willingly carried around our bag ‘o’ stuff (change of clothes, touch up makeup, extra shoes, etc.) without complaint. When you factor in all the help from that afternoon, it made the entire thing completely stress-free.

Working with Nena only solidified my reason for her being our photographer. Her style of photography is the kind I love. She and I talked prior to our session about what I wanted to do, what I didn’t want to do, and she knew about my love and slight knowledge of photography and worked with me. We didn’t do a lot of super pose-y pictures, because she knows that isn’t my thing.  She basically followed REB and me around downtown Ann Arbor for two hours clicking away. She let us be ourselves and was there to capture the cute moments, the funny moments, the raw moments that I would otherwise be embarrassed by but she somehow made it looks cute, charming and beautiful. I won’t lie, I felt like a celebrity.

I can’t wait until my wedding day. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that she will do an amazing job. An Indian wedding is all about color, detail and ceremonies, and I know she will capture all of it beautifully. Thank you for such an amazing afternoon Nena! I can’t wait to see you again in August!

**All photos are property and copyright of Nena Metcalf Photography. Reuse and reproduction of any kind is strictly prohibited**