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Blindsided: How to create stress in an otherwise calm world(15 posts)

Blindsided: How to create stress in an otherwise calm worldKristin
Jul 12, 2002 12:49 PM
I hold the hallmark on stress this weekend. If only I could compete in a stress criterium. I'd be a one woman break away, lapping all the competition.

I, Kristin--ametuer photographer not-so extrodonaire--foolishly agreed to shoot some candid's of my best friends wedding. Somehow this subtly turned into me taking their pre-wedding photos. I'm not even sure how it all happened, as I'm still in a daze. They mentioned something about another friend backing out last minute--I think this friend was perhaps wiser than I--and that they would like me to do the honors. An honor you say? Sure! Why not. I have crappy gear and absolutely NO experience. But okay!?! They "trust" me. The must have me mistaken for Ansel Adams.

I look around for another photographer to hide behind. Strangly, I'm all alone. "Me?" I ask.

"Yes. We trust you," They say.

Well, there is no chance in hell that they could get a photographer for Sunday. (Yes, this Sunday.) Sigh. "All right, I'll do it."

Just so you know, I own a Canon Elan, 2 lenses, one flash (I don't know how to operate it--but that's a secret), one tripod (well, two after I get some duct tape) and a Canon Rebel for backup. This alone is enough to gaurentee me a Guiness World Record for being over my head. (mmmm...a Guinness sounds good.) THEN, today, the bride--this, my beautiful best friend--rings me to request that I only shoot three rolls of film for the whole wedding. They want to keep costs down. Now they've seen some of my work hanging on the walls. They know I have a couple gallery peices and they are impressed. But did they think I just fell off the talent truck, or shot those images in my sleep? Do I have the guts to tell them that I deep six 90% of what I shoot. Its mostly crap, you know. I shoot 10 rolls of film to come up with one gem. I could get better odds digging in the local land fill. AND those are pictures of FLOWERS!! That's my speciatlity. Flowers. Flowers are fun to photograph. They don't have pimples, or boogers, or crooked smiles, or baggy eyes. They don't get married, or yell at well meaning best friends who agree to do favors they have no business doing.

So I must ask myself. IS THERE ANY POSSIBLE WAY ON EARTH I COULD BE AT A BIGGER DISADVANTAGE!?!?!?!?!?!!! At some point I went from being a best friend shooting some candid's to being a wedding photographer. I'm not even sure how it happened. I should ask them for the $60 expenses up front and then run away to Aruba. How long does $60 stretch in Aruba?

My personal advice: If a friend ever asks you to "help out" with their wedding. Be busy. Be very busy. Regretfully busy, but busy just the same. And the farther away you are while busy, the better.
What you can do...mr_spin
Jul 12, 2002 1:19 PM
It can't be anything other than stressful, but here are some things you can do:

1. Your biggest disadvantage is that you don't have a loader/helper. After you shoot a roll, the ceremony is not going to stop and wait for you to load more film. Find yourself a loader, fast. Deputize a guest if you have to. And put the Rebel to use while they are loading. Borrow another Canon if you can, so you have both lenses immediately available. If you have a bulk loader, that's even better--250 shots without changing!

2. Get a list of events, the order of events. This way, you can make sure you have a full roll ready to go at the crucial moments. If they have a rehearsal, go! If not, show up way early and plan your moves.

3. If you have any married friends, go through their wedding photos. Get an idea of what pictures to take, what angles to use, and especially where to be at certain moments.

4. There is nowhere you can't go. Don't worry about blocking anyone's view to get the shot you want. Step on people if you have to. The pictures take priority over the guests!!!
I would not have pegged you as a photographer.Kristin
Jul 12, 2002 1:48 PM
Thanks for the advice.

1. I'm in luck regarding the cerimony. They don't want pictures of the actual wedding. "WHAT!?! You must understand. This is a wedding planned for only 2 months, by two of the freeist spirits you could ever meet. It will be casual to say the least. Personally, I think they should have pictures of the cerimony, but I also think they should have a professional photographer. At this point I'm not going to agrue.

2. I will be given a list of events and times when I arrive tomorrow. The happy couple is generating a list of the portraits they want at this moment. The bad news: They've only given me an hour for the portraits. UGH. What do you think? I'll get 3 or 4 usable portraits? Perhaps? More bad news: The groom is shorter than the bride. Baptism by fire I say!

3. Thanks. I downloaded and printed a crapload of wedding portraits from online today. I figure the photographers can't sue me. Well, they can, but they won't get any money.

4. Yep. Run 'em over. Learned that shooting baptisms.
Jul 12, 2002 2:10 PM
I haven't done anything in a long time, but I used to be into photography. I've only done it for my own pleasure, but my brother is really good at it. A few years ago, my cousin, who had no money, got married and asked him to shoot it. It came out very well.

It should be no problem doing the portraits in an hour IF you keep everyone within arms reach. Setup a tripod, set the focus, then it's just a matter of pressing the shutter release. I don't know how assertive you are, but make it known in a very loud voice that everyone who needs to be in the photos MUST BE RIGHT HERE (point to a spot). Don't let anyone get away unless they are done.

To make life easier for everyone (especially you), go through the list of portraits they want and do the ones that require the most people first. Work your way down to just the happy couple last. That way, everyone else can get on their way to the reception, or whatever.

Good luck!
Several steps.Len J
Jul 12, 2002 2:08 PM
1.) Take a deep breath.
2.) Do the best that you can do.
3.) See rule # 1.
4.) If you do the best you can do, if they are upset, that is their problem. These free spirits will get your best effort. What a gift you are giving them.
5.) When in doubt, Remember rule # 1 & 2.

What is the worst that can happen, zero pictures. Will they still be married? Will they still Love each other?

You'll be fine.


PS Rule # 1 & 2
some ideas?AllisonHayes
Jul 12, 2002 2:30 PM
Some friends of mine got married in a similar manner. They asked me to take some pictures since I know had 35mm camera.

1. I shot the bridesmaids & bride through a screen: they were close to the screen. The effect was great: very subtle undertones, sepia like. I also took several shots at different f stops to play with the depth of field.

2. The bridesmaids wore wide-brimmed hats with lace. Amazing what a hat and shadows can do.

3. Looked for unsual opportunities: like the father of the bride dancing with his 7 year old daughter. She was looking up into his eyes as he was looking down at her.

4. I used a combination of high speed film as well as black and white. I tried to avoid flash as much as possible.

5. I take lots of shots from different perspectives. Get low angles; use a 135mm lense, vertical pics to get full length; close-ups are always good. I always find that I may get 2-3 good pics out of a roll of film

6. I put it all into an album where I found appropriate poetry or prose for each picture.

7. Be creative and use your imagination. Good luck! And let us know how it turns out.

They simply loved it and talk about to this day.
don't be a pessimistStarliner
Jul 12, 2002 5:15 PM
Sorry to be harsh, but you're letting fear of failure get in your way, when instead, you can look at this thing as an honor and an opportunity to give it your all. Stop selling yourself short - you keep this up and you'll be languishing with the bottom-feeders until your last breath is blown. Go out and find a way to do it, and stop acting like a failure before you even give yourself a chance.
I've done it beforeColnagoFE
Jul 15, 2002 8:53 AM
I was actually an architectural photographer for a time. Much better to have subjects that stay still than shoot weddings. Yuck. You really need at least 2 people to help with posing and gear and such. You probably also need something other than a "on the camera" flash. I'd rent a studio flash if you're gonnna be doing anything other than candids. Then again if you don't know how to light portraits or even use a studio flash setup you might be in over your head there too. You'll do OK with the 35mm for candids, but a larger format camera would be a good thing for any portraits or posed shots. Good luck! It ain't easy.
It was... (long)Kristin
Jul 15, 2002 10:15 AM
Well, it was many things! What an interesting weekend. Some pro-photog friends suggested that I pickup some wedding mags and study poses. They recommended I choose some simple poses and copy them directly. That would have been ideal, had I--at any point--had control over my subjects. They were like little lab mice scurrying everywhere!!

One pro-friend lends me a digital and a Bogen tripod. So I packed up the car on Saturday with two 35mm's, two lenses (35-70 & 100-300), two tripods, a digital, 10 rolls of film and a prayer.

The barbeque. I arrive at 4pm find the bride. They will hold the barbeque inside. Inside? It was supposed to be outside?? Well, thankfully I brought along some Konica 200. This was junk film I had laying around and it saved my butt. I was able to save the Kodak Royal for the reception--which they now I should capture.

The big day. I arrive 2 hours early to scope out the site. As I get the gear setup, I begin to feel like David after Saul had dressed him in heavy armor. I was slow on the tripods and I hadn't practiced with the digital enough. I abandonded all of these and just went with what I knew. The groom and his parents arrive first. After about 20 minutes of perpetual hugging, I finally coral them and we begin to take some photos. It would have been easier to organize a beehive. They kept jumping out of the pose so they could take pictures too. It was clear who was in control, and it wasn't me. Short of drawing a weapon, there wasn't much I could do. My hands were tied with a rope labeled "friend of the bride."

Now things dissolve into chaos. The bride rounds the corner in amazing glory. Hair, nails, glittery stuff. She's a dream. Casual by nature, this is a transformation. The groom takes one look and bursts into tears. Now what do I do? We take a break. The flowers are arriving, there is a truck in parked where I was planning to shoot, and everyone is sobbing. Okay, plan B. Shoot the bride--who is the only one collected. But every time I give her a direction, her mother suggests something else.

FINALLY, I get the bride and groom together. The groom's eyes are a little puffy, but that's okay. I'm trying to pose them. There are ten people standing behind me snapping flashes, and the groom is afraid to mess up the gown or tux so he is standing 3 feet away from her holding her hand. Hot, eh? Eventually, I convinced him to hold her.

The ceremony. In addition to singing two hymns, they now want me to capture the ceremony too. You must picture this. I'm in a nice dress--and short dress--attending as a guest, and I sing twice. In between songs I grab my camera and snap away. The other guests don't know what to think. So when I get up during the vows to take pictures, 10 people follow me with their cameras!! I've never seen anything like it. Ten wedding guests standing six feet from the bride in the front of the ceremony taking pictures. I hope someone captured that on film! (By the way, never go to a photo assignment in a short skirt. I think the guests got more than they bargained for.)

Regardless of all this, I believe that I did the best thing. She is a very good friend, and I think neither of them realized how much stress they would create by planning an add-hock wedding. They never intended to take advantage. The photographs will only be "okay." However, I think that they will be pleased with that. That's just the type of people they are. I'm glad I did it. By giving this gift our friendship is even stronger. But I will never, ever, ever, EVER do it again!
ever heard the expression "like herding cats"?DougSloan
Jul 15, 2002 10:25 AM
Sounds like a nightmare.

I shot my sister's wedding, but only because they had no money for anything else. I didn't take responsibility for it, though, like a real photog might have. I was there, and I took a picture when they said, "here, take our picture."

It came out ok, and it wasn't that stressful. They knew what they were getting, which was better than nothing.

I think couples would fare better if they just bought about 20 disposable cameras and passed them out. At least the odds of getting a good pic are good, then.

Oh, I will post an image when I have them back (nm)Kristin
Jul 15, 2002 10:51 AM
Good for youStarliner
Jul 15, 2002 5:51 PM
never ever doubt
in your ability to
do something like that
My Favorite (from Digital)Kristin
Jul 16, 2002 5:46 AM
This, I think, will end up being my personal favorite from the shoot. Children are so fun to photograph and the kids at this wedding were especially happy children. This is gradma and grandson.
Nice composition. nmscottfree
Jul 16, 2002 8:50 AM
Great shot!AllisonHayes
Jul 17, 2002 5:46 AM
and super composition too! That is the kind of subject I look for as well. Isn't it great when they turn out like you saw? I am sure you have a lot more that the family will love.

i Your story was hilarious. Thanks for sharing the foibles and the angst.