Something unexpected happened to me this weekend: I shot a big wedding and fell in love. Although I am most noted as being an elopement photographer, there are a few larger weddings under my belt since 2011. I loved the photographic results from these larger parties, but the evenings after left me feeling drained and had me executing an end-of-day self-baptism into a very large glass of merlot. I gave them up.
Last Saturday, I second-shot for Kelly Prizel in New Haven, CT. Second-shooting is where there is one hired photographer, and that photographer selects a colleague to come along and shoot with them. We met up together right before the first look (where the couple sees each other all dressed up for the first time), and I stayed until the end of the reception.
Something clicked for me then. It was amazing and wonderful; by the end of the night I was tired to the bone in that fantastic way you only get after a job done well. I want to do more, with second shooters this time as a matter of course. The one I did do with a second shooter in 2012 was one of the best days of my career. It was a “big queer barn wedding” in Massachusets, and Leslie Fandric was with me. It was epic levels of fun and gorgeous, but at the time, I wasn’t ready to take on a large wedding business. (If you recall, 2012 was a bit challenging.)
In addition to being inspired to do more larger weddings here is a nearly-complete list of all the things I learned:
Sock buns. I know Kelly’s hair is as long as mine – just past our shoulders – and curly like mine, too, so I was side-eying her perfect doughnut shape and wondering how she got it. She spilled the beans: there was a foam thing in there! I already ordered one for myself. It’s displayed in the photo above, and you can see a silhouette of it on Instagram.
Canon’s 70 – 200 mm lens. It’s a big, intimidating lens which I thought no place at a wedding. It’s the lens wildlife photographers use to get shots up animal’s nostrils without getting into “lion snack” territory. It would be almost totally out of place at an elopement. But at this wedding, for me, it made taking sneaky dance floor photos easy, and I snapped so many fun shots of people without having to shove my camera up close and making them self-conscious.
Veil swirling. Kelly had the bride play with her dress and veil, shamelessly having her twirl and “swoosh” it around. Of course it felt a little silly, which is why I tend to avoid asking people to do it, but then the results were SO worth it (and I only got to see back-of-camera on a tiny screen!). I’m going to start asking my brides with veils and slinky dresses to flounce them around a little. I was able to see how Kelly asked for this in a way that made it sound not-ridiculous, too, which was helpful. Plus, it was fun!
I’m not weird. There are two things I do when shooting a wedding that I always thought were odd. One is that I get so into posing people and thinking about the shot that my ability to form coherent English sentences leaves me for a few beats. At one point Kelly smiled at me and said, “I lose the ability to speak.” and I totally got what she meant. The other is that I get giddy over beautiful light. Kelly was “squee”ing at the sunset, and so was I.
“Sunseeet! Wooooahhh! Yeah!” We were both so goofy over it, and then laughing, because we totally understood how magical those last few golden moments of the daytime are. We got the bride and groom out into this magical light, and I can’t wait to see the results.
Anyway, I’m now shifting gears a little as I daydream about 2015. More big weddings for me! I want to build on my business the same way I always have: with authenticity, sincerity, and honesty. Now I have that little seed in my heart says I can, that I’m ready. It’s such a good feeling.