Too often, with a frequency that will amaze you I hope to share with you intimate little happenings that made some Weddings stand out from others.  I have been privileged to have seen much of it, and heard it all from people who spent years in the industry.  

•  I have witnessed wedding attendees punching each other out over a bridesmaid;  Some weddings have all the ingredients of a two-step dance hall on Friday night. People in costume, drinking, having a cause, jealousy and ass-grabbing. Boys will be boys and booze brings out the best in them.

•  Babies and excitement tend to merge and one Bridesmaid barely made it to the hospital when the "I do's" timed perfectly to the babies "he did".  7.8 pounds of "he did" less than 40 minutes after they arrived, he arrived.

•  I tripped over the father of the Bride passed out drunk, flattened on the main aisle floor of a Catholic Church and the Bishop, a close friend of the family, never skipped a beat, even blessing the drunk as he laid snoring on the floor.  The Holy water lost to the Glenlivet, the drunk, at least he had good taste. His daughter didn’t think so.  

We carried on.  She never spoke to him again. She would not even attend his funeral.   I found out his was her second husband coming from abad first, she had two kids and her new husband was a prince of a person  and meeting much of his family for the first time.  Found out her father’s entire life was booze and she begged him, for one day her wedding,  he would be sober.  He wasn’t and this was a tragedy. 

•  On another occasion you get a chance to do a couple like these folks in the picture... and it makes it all worth while. Theses are really nice folks and a great personal friendly wedding. Couple years back Black and White was the rage, today its Photoshop, with gimmicks and over-saturation. Years later I met them and they are very happy.

•  One of the most bizarre wedding stories, true since it happened to a friend, stems from being an actual case of the Bride thanking the Best Man above and beyond the call of duty for one Brides last fling (bang-bang) about a half hour before the ceremony in the back seat of their car...  They got caught by the other photographer.   I guess she thought it was all right since she wasn't married yet.  In some places this would be construed as twelve gauge news.  

In other countries her head would have been used in a polo tournament. The groom announced the reception event with great admonition and the Wedding became a party since it was paid for,  but the marriage never took place.  My friend married someone else and he is very lucky to have a nice family with a wonderful wife and a beautiful, intelligent daughter. The guy upstairs works in strange ways.

•  One must be flexible and look for the answer not the problem.   My call sheet said a Catholic Wedding in Queens. It didn't mention the fact it was a mixed ethnic and religious wedding of Eastern Orthodox Vs. the Vatican Catholic persuasion. Close enough you might think, not really.  It was more like the Polish Mafia versus the Italian Mafia.

I got told I would be swimming with fish’s or stuffed into kielbasa if I took pictures of the other side, by either side.  The bulges in their jackets more or less convinced me.  

I handled it, and as a young Wedding shooter made a double shoot out of the deal.  The Eastern crew got their pictures, and the Catholics got theirs.  Rolls marked E and O.  The importance of carrying extra film and bodies, it was 120/220 at that time. My boss asked why did I shoot double the amount of film. We guaranteed 120 image at that time which was ten rolls. I explained and he set it up beautifully and had the girls play one side against the other.  I got paid double and got residual from sales for weeks after.   I will teach you to hold your own in this unique industry.

•  On another tragic occasion, when I went to deliver the album I was informed the groom had been killed on their honeymoon in a cave diving accident.  It  broke my heart as these were a wonderful couple and part of the Honeymoon was to be certified as a cave diver.  It took three days to find him with all the rescue divers the state could muster.  Our caving system in Florida is very unstable.  Just sinkholes alone swallow houses in one shot.  

You are about to join a unique drama club.  Together we will embark on a new path. I will be your guide. I am a survivor. Hopefully you will have made it through your first.  Many don’t. This guide will hopefully give you the savvy to survive. It's a lot different being the second shooter, the pressures not on you.  Its easier doing it when you are doing it for nothing, no fee, no harm and again, again the pressures not on you.  So why the high failure rate in this business... it’s the pressure, it’s a lot different when it’s on you. 

And since you accepted something, money, cows, pigs and so forth it’s now LEGAL.  And it is totally unpredictable. That’s the rub, you can’t see a disaster. When you do this for a fee regardless of he amount, you have entered into a contract and you are bound.  The excuse in court I only took money for the film don't work anymore.  Mother-in-laws can be hazardous to your health just like momma grizzlies as most likely she may have given the money for the event.

The trick in this business is always being on your toes and ahead of the game. And as the game gets bigger and more is involved, you have to step up to the pump.   Like flying a Learjet, we were one hundred fifty to two hundred forty miles ahead of what you are doing planning your descent.  In a Cessna 210, it is about twenty to forty miles and in a Cessna 150 about eight to 12 miles. We call it the closing descent rate, you’re thinking has to be out in front of the aircraft.  Same with a 200 dollar one hour shoot to a five thousand dollar higher end gig.

In a few hundred thousand words, hopefully you will have it all absorbed by tomorrow when you go out on your first wedding shoot.  This is all about you. I made the mistakes, and will help you avoid them. That’s what teaching is all about. I aim to toughen you like a boot camp.  I will try to guide you through the Wedding Process. 

The latest cool word in our lexicon is PROCESS. As a wedding photographer you are part of a process. The word processional comes from the word process. The processional for the Bride is the grand entrance of all the participants in the ceremony.  It’s generally when the mother of the Brides heart is the second loudest in the church. The loudest will be yours. Fear does that. The mothers fear is losing a daughter who now has a new advisor, her husband. Your fear is from all the things that can change as soon as the music starts and missing the big moment.

Weddings are fun occasions to attend and participate in as a guest.  As a guest, I said, all that food, drink, the friendly people, the fun, music, games and plenty of love is in the air.  The beautiful people dressed to the nines, high heels and cleavage for the boys and half drunk guys for the gals.  Sounds like fun. You were thrilled to accept the offer to Photograph a Wedding.

Then the alarm goes off and you wake up. “Today I have to shoot a Wedding”.  And shooting a wedding can be quite a challenge to the new photographer and very intimidating if you haven’t actually had training in this area. Add to that, it can be financially self destructive if you don’t get it right.

We do live in a sewer, that’s spelled SUE-ER society. And I guarantee to you, little has to do with being able to take pictures. Most of the automated cameras today can take pictures. But when your weddings look like snapshots, ultimately you have failed the test.  The attitude of “winging it” can be very self destructive because St. Murphy-Lawes, the patron Saint of Photographers is generally not on your side. But “no fear” and “winging it” are all too common these days with the advent of digital. 

Photography is about light, not the mantras of the photo equipment manufacturers. Failures are because of a lack of preparation, training and a sheer lack of effort and study. Flash manufacturers, know this and they have automated their flash units to death, they call it integration. So you get something of an image, and then I hear, just shoot it in raw and we'll correct it in Photoshop.

Are those who study the extreme use of sharpness, raw over/under exposure and bloated saturation which is the motivation behind an enormous cash flow in the general direction of ADOBE PHOTOSHOP products. I know I paid for the same upgrade bills you did but now I lease.  POST-OGRAPHERS and PHOTOGRAPHERS are two different strokes.  One creates a mode that never existed and the other steals a precious moment of time.