I did a lot of Photoshop work on this image of my husband and I on our wedding day. Unfortunately, it was taken with a point and shoot camera in the middle of the day, so nothing will ever get rid of the shadow on my face, or bring back the detail in the skirt of my dress. (There’s nothing wrong with him, though. He always looks handsome.)
I wasn’t a wedding photographer when I got married.
Things look different from this side. There are so many things I have learned about weddings since I became a wedding photographer.
When I planned my wedding, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. Fortunately, a lot of brides I talk with seem to know these things (maybe I was just dumb).
Other myths are still out there — the same ones I fell for. So I’ll share.
Myth #1: Photos are photos. Anyone can do them.
There are photos … and then there are gorgeous, stunning, fine art photos that you just love to look at. I really wish I had some of the latter from my wedding.
I love and adore my cousin who shot my photos, and she is an amazing artist. I did her a real disservice, though, by saddling her with my own point and shoot camera that was not really capable of doing what a wedding photographer’s camera needs to do. And, though I gave her a gift for her service, I realize now it was probably not enough for the massive job that I was asking from her.
As a wedding photographer, I have to always be “on” during the wedding, waiting for those moments that I need to capture. I don’t get to socialize like everyone else, because I have to be on the alert for photos. If I have time to eat, it’s a tiny, hurried meal with one eye on the room to see if anything is going on.
Often I envy the people who just get to dance and eat cake. Even guests who are great photographers, deserve to get the chance to just be guests every now and then.
Myth #2: I like DIY projects. I can just do everything myself.
Needless to say, I took charge of editing the photos after the wedding. Before the wedding, I had tried to do everything, too. When I got ready to start on the photos, I was just exhausted. Everyone was asking to see them, and the last thing I wanted was to do more wedding stuff. I wanted to go on vacation with my new husband, and I needed to sit down and write Thank You notes as well as find a place to put all of our wedding gifts in our tiny apartment.
It took months for me to get the wedding photos edited, burned to discs, and shared. And every time someone asked to see them, I felt like there was more pressure on me. Not a good feeling.
The entire price of wedding photography would have been worth it, if only to have that time back.
Myth #3: I don’t like the way I look in photos.
I really don’t, and that’s one reason I wasn’t eager to have a lot of them taken at my wedding. But I hadn’t had a real professional photo taken since high school. And I now realize that even those were not really great quality portraits.
A talented, knowledgeable photographer can make you look better than you ever suspected was possible. Good lighting erases those dark lines and creases you hate, lights up your best features (such as your eyes), and sculpts with shadows to create the most flattering image possible.
Good posing can do an even better job of making you look amazing. A photographer who knows how to pose you can help even someone who “hates to have their photo taken” be delighted with the results.
Myth #4: I just need a disc.
Ask me what happened to my disc.
When I give couples a disc, I always tell them to back it up on a computer, and store it somewhere safe, and I followed my own advice. Wouldn’t you know it? The hard drive I stored the photos on crashed.
I stored them online, too. The online storage site no longer exists.
Thankfully, I had a backup disc (something else I always give couples). It took me a while to find it.
When I first put my disc in my new computer after my hard drive crashed, and the disc didn’t work … sheer panic.
A lot of people think discs are the most reliable method of storing photos, when they are actually the least reliable. Even worse: some people predict that discs will be obsolete within a few years, and your disc will be about as useful as those 3 1/2 inch floppy discs I keep finding around the house (and throwing away).
What if I could do it all over again?
I wasn’t really a wedding person, and I had a very simple wedding, so I didn’t splurge on anything … including photos. But if I did it again, I would have one splurge, and yes, you guessed it: photos. I would have someone who could do the cool artsy stuff. I would have engagement photos, and bridal photos. I would have a big print I could hang in my dining room (instead of having all my clients’ photos hanging up there). I would have a gorgeous, archival quality album that I could show my friends.
Most of all, I would ask for photos of something that’s important to all of us: the way my husband looked at me. The joy in our faces. The laughter and tears. The feelings that we shared and hoped to keep alive throughout our lifetimes.