Years ago, when doing wedding photos was relatively new to the photog, a friend of a friend took a chance and hired the services of a budding newbie. Pricing was minimal and not worth repeating but the venue was huge. This was one of the finer and nicer venues to do photos. The party was huge and it was a lovely summer day. The pressure was on. This had to be a wonderful project.
The photog got all nervous and started to read all he could about wedding photography. This was the make or break day of the new career. Fortunately, back then, the library was filled with wonderful resources just a single block away from home base. Before long, the photog felt ready to deliver on his agreement.
Arriving on the scene, backpack in tow, smile ready, suit on point, the photog noticed to his great surprise a team of photographers ready and already shooting. Some friendly banter later, it became very clear that this was not going to be his big break. The bride had gone with a studio of great reputation to ensure the photos would be perfect. While this broke the heart of the young photog, his youthful exuberance was undeterred and more determined than ever to show his work.
An agreement was struck with the team of photographers so that no one felt their toes were being stepped on. Translation, you stay out of the way kid and everything is fine. To many, this would have been a sign to sit down and relax. To this young photog, this was the perfect green light to show off his talent. Not only had he to be super creative, he had to also stay low and out of the way. That meant that no one was really looking out for him or cared about what he was doing. The pressure was off. The bride knew she’d only deal with the team and he could do as he wanted. Photo journalism style
As the party entered, the photog stood outside one of the fences to see if he could snap a few pictures worth printing. The photographers had the best seats in the house for the ideal photos. In boredom, the photog started to shoot random photos from the perspective of a young child looking through the fence. Little did he know that one of those photos would become the bride’s favorite shot of the entrance. The white picket fence was used as the frame for a photo of her mother walking in. It looked like a diamond shaped blurred white frame to a crisply focused salmon color sophisticated dress that flowed and stole the show.
As the ceremony prolonged, members of the audience were treated to a well suited young lad in a suit popping up and about through the most unexpected locations. A few shots were done from the perspective of the ground, others from withing the seating of the attendees, and others from over the shoulder of the minister. Anywhere that was out of the way of the other photographers was fair game for the ninja moves of this young photog.
The highlight of the day was right before the vows were shared. The photog found a way to climb into some shrubberies and nestle himself inside a low hanging branch. The dry cleaners were not thrilled cleaning this suit. The young man even heard word from the wait team wondering what madness had befallen him. The photog knew exactly what he wanted to capture. The sun was setting perfectly and soon, the bride was going to tear up. Before the water works would happen, it was imperative to capture the glimmer of golden sun on her veil as she leaned towards her groom. As he snapped and waited and snapped some more, a flicker of light caught his eye. She had teared up. The other photographers were not seeing this. He was the only one. He furiously snapped away as the flickers of rainbow light danced off her teared cheek through the veil causing a beautiful effect that even lens flare and other digital manipulations could scarce reproduce in those days.
After much effort to climb down, the photog couldn’t contain himself. The photos were picture perfect. He had to tell someone. So the tattered looking junior photographer approached the team and showed off his work through the preview screen on his DSLR. Seeing their jaws drop was priceless. They wanted to know how and where he got the shot. Proudly describing his achievement, he naively thought the high fives was going to be the results. Instead, they straightway ran for his hiding spot and brainstormed a quick way to get the shot. As they set up chairs and ladders, the got into position to get their own version. By then, the tears had dried and the sun had moved further along, yet they still tried.
That’s when another opening happened. The order to kiss the bride was being given and the team of photographers were on the wrong side of the space for the shot. They were going to get only the back of his head. Instinct took over. This was his only shot to get the main kiss. Swinging into action, the photog zoomed down the aisle and caught the kiss ever so perfectly before the mass of amateur point and shoot crowd filled the lane to get their shot.
Later that night, the photographer team approached the young talent and offered money to get the money shot of the kiss. This time, a bit wiser, the photog declined. After some minor back and forth with a sprinkle of trash talk, the photog explained that he was not privileged to get the RAW photos from the team and it was only fair that they couldn’t access his RAW photos either. Sure, they caught the kiss from an awkward angle and the bride did recreate the kiss for them afterward, so it was not a loss. What they didn’t get was the sequence of photos leading to the kiss resembling a low to high Hollywood photo sweep.
Later that month, when the bride reviewed all her photos, she ended up ordering a digital copy of all of the photog’s photos. She fell in love with the creativity and the story telling nature of his work. Other brides who saw the work show up on the early days of social media even reached out to get an appointment with the photog. This was the how the early days took off. The suit never quite recovered, but was usable nevertheless.
Recently, the photog was pondering what story to write. Then, on Facebook, someone commented about how creative their photographer had been to be all over the place capturing the story of their wedding day. The photog smiled. What was relatively new back then is now common expected practice today. Photographers go through great lengths routinely to convey the story their customer wants. Back in the day, you had to pay extra for that work. While this photog can’t take any credit for changing the industry or innovating it at all, he does take some measure of satisfaction knowing he was not afraid of going after his photos to keep customers smiling and happy.
The plan is to gear up for the coming year. Will there be more wedding photos in store for this photog? That is yet to be seen. However, the coming projects will certainly take this man out of his comfort zone and into a very creative space. The stories to be told will require an even more perceptive eye and greater art. This will push his skills ever more. That is just the way he likes it.
Where ever you are in your art, keep pushing the limits and learn from it. That is what keeps are interesting for the creator of the art and the consumer of the art. Until next time, keep smiling.