Now that January is here and I’ve completely caught up in editing 2011 weddings (yay!), it’s time to reflect a bit on the past wedding season with what I learned:
1. There’s no time to write blog posts during wedding season ;)
2. Shooting 29 weddings (31 if you count the two weddings I second shot for other WNY wedding photographers) is a lot but totally manageable. The key is staying organized, planning ahead and communicating with wedding couples efficiently. It’s looking like I may hit that number or go higher for 2012 and if I end up shooting anything over 30 weddings I’ve been telling myself there’s a small chance I may be looking to bring someone on as a studio manager this coming summer…
3. When meeting with couples on the initial consultation, I’m interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing me. One of the great things among many with this profession is that I get to work with people that want to work with me. That’s huge and I find that the couples I gel with better on the initial meeting respect both me / my work more. Quite honestly, those are the couples that are the easiest to get great photos of (when there’s some kind of relationship / friendship in place) and the ones I want to kick ass on a wedding for.
4. Getting great shots at a wedding is more about how I either set up a shot / interact with people OR how I allow parts of the day to unfold naturally than straight technique. While it’s much more difficult than most people think, the truth is anyone can learn the technical side of photography with time and dedication. The real key to getting amazing photos, at least from my perspective anyway, is how you get past the technical aspects of photography and interact / create energy with people or how you allow the day / a series of shots to unfold naturally. I’ve seen a fair amount of photographers that have fantastic technical skills but aren’t that great at engaging people or knowing how to let a couple be themselves and it totally shows in the end result of their photography.
5. The biggest technical aspect of photography I gained insight on is truly thinking about what’s happening with light. This is something I was progressively thinking more and more about throughout the season and it seemed to fully materialize with me when I had the chance to attend two sessions on lighting at photoplus in NYC this past Fall; one with Cliff Mautner and the other with Jerry Ghionis. In short, both had similar things to say on “seeing the light”, that I took to heart.
6. From this point forward I’m only attending photo sessions led by other photographers who’s work I truly like / respect. I was familiar with work from Jerry Ghionis / Cliff Mautner before attending the photo sessions I mentioned above and they were amazing. On the other hand, I wanted to attend another session just because the topic was interesting but I wasn’t familiar with the photographer’s work. I did look into the presenter a bit beforehand and the work seemed to be ok, but somewhat ho-hum. I signed up anyway because of the topic. Essentially, the session I attended was so bad I had to walk out of the room in the first 15 minutes. Lesson learned.
7. There’s an AMAZING community of awesome photographers right here in WNY. So we have this great facebook photo chat group full of the best wedding / portrait / commercial photographers in the area where we exchange ideas and help each other out. Being somewhat new to the industry (officially been shooting under my own business name for just two years) it’s been invaluable for me to see what techniques other people are using, exchange ideas, learn the business side of things, and meet some of the most awesome / talented photographers I now consider good friends.
8. This is more of a comment for photographers than any clients I may have reading this post but I really came to embrace the idea that my 70-200 at longer focal lengths is my true friend.
9. People are just people. For whatever reason, I think a lot about this when I’m photographing a wedding. To elaborate; our jobs may often define us but in a life event like a wedding, that gets put aside and the day becomes about family, life and love. We’re all here in this world together and a wedding is one of those life moments that goes beyond the BS politics and paperwork we’ve buried ourselves in as a society and effectively “sheds the veil of bureaucracy”*** to the point people just end up being themselves. I love it and it makes for great photography.
10. I continue to love shooting weddings and seriously get excited for every single one I have the honor to photograph!
*** special thanks to my studio buddy Neil Carrol at Nickel City Graphics for coining this truly beautiful phrase as I struggled for wording in describing the concept.