Behind the Lens – the Circle of Wedding Life

“Can’t I just skip today’s blog?  One day won’t hurt.  I mean really, do I have to do one about myself? ”

The reply, “Yes, you DO have to do one about yourself and yes, it IS interesting to the rest of us…. besides, you have put a lot into getting this blog going and have committed to keeping it up on a consistent basis.”

I would love to say that was my conscience answering, but in fact it was my friend and blog angel, Cynthia, who keeps me focused on this project and motivated to find the time for it when, frankly, there is no time.

The idea for the Behind the Lens series came in response to the bazillions of questions I get from clients and hopeful-photographers about the process I go through shooting a wedding, and the experience from my perspective.  Today’s blurb will answer the question: WHAT IS A TYPICAL WEDDING SHOOT DAY LIKE FOR YOU?

Right off the bat I should admit that I am horribly camera shy and yep, that is why I prefer to be behind the camera.  It is for this very reason that I bend over backwards to make all of my clients, from brides to business executives to toddlers, feel at ease and natural as we shoot.  And I have never thought about it specifically before but I suppose that is also why I become bonafide friends with my clients — because I myself feel more comfortable having pictures taken of me when done by or with friends or family…. (check my bio and you will see a photo of me taken by my MOM!… there… she got her photo credit – ha!)

One of the wonderful results of this feel-good friendly approach is that clients routinely comment, “Wow, you really captured me!  I mean that photo really looks like me!” … I have learned that is less common than you might think, so of course I am thrilled to hear that I actually take photos that look like the person!

There are all sorts of things I want to address as far as the shoot experience goes: the instructions and cues I give my clients, how I take everything into account when setting up a shot from the height of the clients to which side they part their hair on, but for today I will briefly stick to the question on the table.

So…. a typical day shooting a wedding…. how does it work…

First of all, it starts the night before!  Most weddings are on Saturdays so Friday night, around dinner time, my preparation ritual begins.  Batteries are charged, memory cards prepared, itineraries, notes and directions printed.  I’ve found the easiest and best way for me to be creative is to be meticulously methodical and organized.  On wedding morning I get up early and double check all the items I have placed on the bench in my entry way and I go over the checklist I know by heart that I now keep as a pdf on my phone (yea technology!)

Then I pack my car and head to my studio for anything else I might need such as lights or whatever the day calls for.  This is where the coffee comes in.  Coffee is a BIG part of my shoot day ritual.  I even carry my camera bag into Starbucks for safety, and by the time I am halfway to the counter the staff is already making my drink and asking, “So where’s today’s wedding?”

I like to get to the venue early to get the lay of the land based on the weather conditions that day.  I make a point to meet and greet all the personnel involved with the wedding to ensure a smooth and flowing experience for all.  The humbling and profound emotions I feel when I walk into a bride’s dressing room before she takes her vows are among some of my happiest and most treasured memories, and deserving of their own blog post, so for now it’s back to my checklist.

The atmosphere at the ceremony is sweet, touching, and meaningful.  So many life experiences and so much planning and care have led up to that one incredible moment at the altar.

But once the transition is made to the reception… wooohooooo it’s party time!  There is food and drink and dancing and CAKE!!!  (Those who know me best know I am crazy about wedding cake).  This is the time people let their updone hair down and kick off their dyable shoes.  They laugh, they eat, they celebrate!  And I get to be part of it all… and people wonder why I never tire of my job…

That night when I am back home my body tells me it is time to collapse and recharge my own batteries.  But I am always so amped from the shoot that I immediately start posting sneak peek pics, usually till about 2 in the morning.  I just have to get the shots up on my hard drives and backed up or I won’t be able to sleep.

The next morning as I awaken with lovely thoughts of the prior day’s beauty and splendor, I start the whole process over again…. meeting with potential client couples, setting up engagement shoots… and so the circle of wedding life is complete.

So to answer the question: What is is a typical wedding day shoot like for me? The answer: it’s a slice of heaven…. or in this case, wedding cake.

cas - March 18, 2011 - 4:15 pm

helloooooooooooooooo blog!
amy i just love getting to know you through your sharing in this forum
the way you are blessing people and touching lives is truly beautiful

Anthony - March 18, 2011 - 4:42 pm

Love this post! For those of us who know you, the way to your heart is through the wedding cake or dessert. It’s even better when the groom serves you the cake when you’re too embarrassed to get more on your own *wink* *wink*! Anthony

Amy Allen - March 18, 2011 - 4:47 pm

I have never seen a bride NOR groom ever serve their own wedding cake. Ha!! Great cake. I need the name of the creator again. Can’t wait for the cake party on your anniversary : )

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