Experience is a great teacher.  Putting your hand in fire if you didn’t know what fire was, would be very common occurrence.  But as soon as a few of those Neanderthals got a few burned hands, a lesson was learned, and the caveman had it down pat.  That’s why he made the women do the cooking. No more burnt hands for the men.  

Women invented the shish-ska-bob and the stick.  So cave-men went on to invent the club and challenge Saber-tooth tigers and Mastodons. More learning lessons were accrued and a few Saber-tooth’s ate well…from the survivors we have learned a few things.  That men do like ribs done over charcoal fires except when they are theirs… and Saber-tooth’s like their meat rare, very rare and they think Cave-men taste like chicken. 

Let me be clear as a bell, no fear.  I'm not putting down newcomers to the game. These are the tips for the newcomer to survive. It’s a big undertaking and you might as well know what you are getting into.  It’s also for Brides and Grooms who also might be less knowledgeable on how to select a photographer. Sometimes they run in the same circles and when they meet, it’s called a “impending crash”. When they agree to do it, it’s called “an impending disaster”. It has another name, read on...

The Bride is challenging the Photographer to do a very difficult job without regard for his or her qualifications, knowledge or experience, on the one single most important day in a lifetime.  She picked you because of being friendship, frugality, convenience and she liked your Teddy Bear pictures.  

The ones you did with a quick Strobist setup. You might be accepting the challenge without a clue as to what really is needed both in equipment, style, qualifications and experience. This is also what we call clueless meeting clueless... with the result meeting the great Russian Attorney Boris Kutsunutsoff.

One thing that cracks me up are the questions that arise if someone else at the wedding, a guest , an Uncle Harry, has better gear than you do.  Oh, the embarrassment, I have been outgunned by a guest.   I emphasize this it’s not problem except in your mind. The other guy just has more money than you. You are supposed to have the skills.  

And when he comes over to show you his toy or brags about it, just reply, “We looked at those but to be honest we turned down the trade-in deal we were offered from (Canon- Nikon- Pentax-etc).  We stuck with what we had that worked and that model has already had terrific recalls", they might bring a newer version out sooner. ”.  That takes the wind out of Uncle Harry's sails and he will go into molting losing his tail feathers.

Here is another scenario, you are a great tap dancer, you just won American Tap Dancer of he year, for your exploits. You are challenged to tap dance across a minefield and the only thing crossing your mind, wondering if you wore the right shoes.   

Ninety percent of the new photographers I see on the wedding forums asking for advice are wondering more about the shoes ( cameras and gear) and haven’t got a clue about what’s happening at a wedding.  You never hear from them after the event because they have been blown to smithereens.

If you desire to become a professional in this arena the key is experience and self- confidence. Experience is gained by reading, observing, attending, inquiring, and eventually working with an established professional. Self-confidence is not bravado, it is the culmination of experience.  Sort of being on a Safari, without a guide which leads us again to redundancy.  The real reason for a second shooter, the rest is BS, a backup. Thats how it started. 

I will generously share all that knowledge I have gained through the years with you in a few hundred thousand words and hopefully you will have it all absorbed by tomorrow night when you go out on your own.  This is all about me and you. I made the mistakes, and you avoid them. That’s what teaching is all about. I aim to toughen you.

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. 


It is a multi-billion dollar industry and it’s players and shooters are composed of all types of people; Some with integrity and some without; Some with the latest and greatest new gear and some with old gear; Some with experience and a following, some with one name or notch on the belt and that was a relative.  Many have plans for the long run and building a solid business, and some with the weekend extra cash in mind and survival. 

A good portion have increased their knowledge and proficiency base through training seminars and apprenticeship and a few just made it through Popular Photography devoting much of their time to the equipment ads. 

I once answered a blog post that someone had asked “Heavens! What on earth did those poor wedding couples do for thousands of years before the invention of all these rules, customs, traditions, electronic music and photography? 

I replied, It was far simpler in the old days. “They enjoyed themselves… roasted a pig or a cow, swapped a few head of cattle, fed everybody, and stayed married for the rest of their lives till death did them part (they didn't live as long) and in some cultures never re-married. 

Then it became a business. Photographers, musicians, hall owners, dress designers, witch doctors, planners, consultants, advisors, relatives, and the clergy put their two cents in one at a time… total of $1.68 and ruined things... 

In the first scenario the loser was the pig or the cow. In the second scenario, the loser is the bride and groom, everybody else makes out.  So we’ll look at it from the Photography standpoint, the other parts of the WEDDING are complex enough to warrant their own website and we call it part two.  The most important part of the equation is not what you think, it’s what you know. Lets see what a Wedding really is...