I did it!
The most difficult wedding to shoot has been shot, edited, and delivered.
I’m talking about the wedding for my cousin, Haley, the daughter of my professional photographer Uncle - Charles Glatzer (AKA UC).
My uncle made his “claim to fame” by shooting weddings professionally in the New York area before moving over to wildlife. Since he had the pedigree, my cousin naturally asked him to shoot her wedding. UC said no, and rightfully so, because he actually wanted to enjoy the wedding. Well, if he wasn’t going to shoot it, then he had to pick the photographer because anyone my cousin picked wouldn’t be nearly good enough. My Uncle promptly replied, “Don’t worry, Michael will shoot it.”
“That’s a great idea,” my cousin replied, ever so enthusiastically.
That was the story I overheard at Thanksgiving before they had even asked told me I’d be shooting Haley’s wedding. Needless to say, I said yes and began freaking out.
This was my 4th wedding as a photographer. It would have been my 1st if I didn’t decide to get some experience beforehand as a second shooter, and boy am I glad I did. I really and truly believe it made a huge difference in the images I got. Big thanks to Jamie Howell for letting me 2nd shoot with him! If it wasn’t for that opportunity, there’s no way I could have pulled off this wedding. Even knowing I had huge expectations to live up too, I was incredibly relaxed for the entire day, and I think that translated to my images. I’m still floored with the images produced. Even from the start, while capturing the hair stylist at work, the images just looked great on the back of my camera and I got that feeling of It’s gonna be a great day.
I did learn a couple of big things as well. First off, bring lots of business cards and have them on your person. Stupid me, I only had one on me the entire day, and the hairstylist, makeup artist, and the venue coordinator asked for my card. Commence face-palm. Luckily, my family who live in the area, all use that hairstylist and makeup artist regularly, so I made sure my information was forwarded to them. Secondly, Hustle all day long. When we arrived at the reception venue, I don’t think I sat down for anything other than to eat. And when things died down a little, I took my cousin and her new husband and did extra portraits outside. The result? The event space asked for my information to put on their vendor list. Apparently, they were very, very impressed with me without even seeing any images. Thirdly, having a second shooter is very useful. I didn’t get a chance to shoot the guys getting ready or the bride’s dress and shoes separately because I had to change and because of how little time there was between hair/makeup and the ceremony. I feel bad because those are shots that my cousin asked for, and having a second shooter would have allowed those images to be captured. I didn’t hire a second shooter because I obviously did this wedding for free. No way was I about to charge my family. And finally, my Uncle is a freaking monster. Because of a time crunch between the ceremony and reception, he asked if he could do the posing for the bridal party and family photos. Not only was he moving people around at lightning speed, he also acted as my light stand for an off-camera flash. Immediate lessons learned: leave ¼” or more of space around your subjects and crop later, how to pose a bride with a long dress, how to pose the bridal party, how to move through the combinations efficiently, don’t be afraid of using ETTL for flash, and don’t be afraid of using a slow shutter speed in tandem with flash. I got all of those in the span of 1 minute. I have so much to learn. The final test will be when my Uncle and cousin pass final judgement on my images. That’ll be the defining moment and I can’t wait for it.
I really had a wonderful time shooting this wedding. Hanging out with family, capturing a huge moment in their lives, getting monster confidence at nailing my shots, and genuinely feeling good about what I was doing was more than I could have asked for. I’d love to go into more detail about the day and the funny little moments, but I’m going to be selfish and keep those to myself. Besides, if I did my job right, it should be readily apparent how the day went just by looking at the images, Right?
Congratulations to Dustin and Haley! I’m so proud of you two! May your days together be filled with merriment and love.