I have been trying to create opportunities to become a better photographer.
Quite brilliantly, I put an ad on Craigslist to take free event photos. The ad sat there unanswered for a good month.
The other day I got a bite. It was for an impromptu swamp-adjacent wedding outside New Orleans. The happy couple announced they were eloping, and the parents replied with a variation of “what the f*** are you thinking???” I think it was as much of a stellar affair you could plan in 7 days, and aside from becoming a great story to tell the kids someday, this outdoor wedding had beautiful moments and guests from as far as Kansas City.
I learned a lot being their last-minute option:
1. Before you go, make a list of all the shots you need to get. This is as useful as going to the grocery store with a list. It puts you on a mission and keeps you focused. It also lets you know when you’re done.
2. Bring a huge data storage card (same goes for batteries). I ran out of photo space and had to sit in a back room for 20 minutes to download 7 gigabytes of photos, while the reception was still going on! Not cool!
3. Ask the bride and groom to designate a family member that will tell you who’s who. You don’t want to end up with 100 photos of the wacky uncle no one likes to talk about, or conversely, too few photos of other critical family members.
4. Synergize with the couple and the event vibe. This couple was creative and fun and so was the event. She was an adorable retro bride and he was a handsome groom in a periwinkle seersucker suit with bright pink tie and alligator shoes. They posed in their blue Volkswagon Vanegan; I took lots of photos of people chowing down at the crayfish boil and laughing around the backyard fire pit.
5. Try to fade into the background. As natural as it seems to start chatting up guests while the groomsmen egg you on to hit the bar and every relative you pass by asks “did you get enough to eat?” you just don’t want to be “that guy” who eats the last ‘gator nugget hors d’oeuvre.
6. Make friendly with other photographers at the wedding. There’s always someone else there with a video camera, professional camera or iPhone documenting every second of the event along with you. An open line of communication is necessary when you’re all trying to take the same shot or vying for the best angle.
7. When you step in dog shit at the outdoor cocktail hour, just slide your feet on the grass. If necessary, grab a paper towel and wipe it off. You don’t want to capture photos of guests with wrinkled noses wondering “who stepped in it?”