NO TWO THE SAME



WEDDINGS ARE UNIQUE

 MIX-MATCHED STYLES

Number one on the hit parade is diverse-matched shooting in the wrong wedding style. Be prepared that your style applies to the Wedding couple’s beliefs.  

People are culturally different and PJ may not be the best choice for a specific wedding and you might be going or moving to a position that might not be correct.  

At a Catholic Church one day the photographer thought he ruled the roost, climbing over everybody and everything, till he got to the LUNA which is a circular receptacle with glass sides, metal circled with gold or gilded metal to hold the Sacred Host upright in the monstrance during the Mass. 

It is a sacred vessel, having received the priest's blessing.   It is sometimes called a lunette.  The older, very-very Catholic “tough” priest had enough with this clown.  He stopped the sacrament, paused, my source tells me the priest and said, "God Forgive Me" and invited the Photographer to leave the Church right now.  

We have a tough time in my area with Catholic Churches and FLASH, because idiots like this guy made it tough for all of us.   It has even encouraged second shooters to hide as guests on the aisle seats and grab what they can with high ISO's.   

You might be best to mix it up a little so you cover your bases. I have learned this from my diversified experience shooting weddings of ethnic and social differences. In addition, I must stop and give thanks to the many professionals and associates who contributed similar stories which proves I am not crazy.  It’s a test sometimes, but I don’t think the Octopus and Fish will make it... well maybe with a good sushi chef....


 VALUE THIS THE GOLDEN RULE APPLIES HERE:
"THOU SHALT NOT ABUSE THE CLERGIES RULES AND WISHES”


YOUNGER COUPLES

Some younger couples like moderate trendy PJ to almost a “shock jock” approach to the Wedding.   Notice I said “Some”. You better expect anything, sometimes blowing tradition out the door.  

Expect anything from a moon to topless exhibitions to falling on ones face dead drunk.  My favorite is the exposure problem a young new female shooter, new at the game living in the UK, had “penis exposure” from the groomsmen in three of her shots as explained in preceding pages.

A click or two in Photoshop could have cured the extended problem by erasing it, but I gave her a better idea.  

Upon my suggestion and after she got paid, she used the “shrink image button” in layers in Photoshop and popped a print.  All the bridesmaids got a souvenir 8x10 of the diminished male standard. I’ll bet that made a few circles around town!  I once said the best way to expose an a-hole, is with a camera and show the world.

Another example: After you shoot a thousand B&W "truly photojournalistic artistic renderings or PJ shots" the mother-in-law calls up and wants the 30x40 color shot of her firstborn to hang over the fireplace of their new house. Try selling her the black and white artistic shot of the Brides bra strap while she was getting dressed. 

 

COMRADES IN ARMS
You are not alone: My buddies and cohorts in the business shared a few other horror tales with me.  Fred Miranda’s website at http://www.fredmiranda.com/ has a pretty good wedding forum.  It’s inhabited by a few pro’s and many, many beginners, some guys pretending to know more than they do.  

A fast check on licenses, which is commonly on all government websites for that city or state sites tell you whether they are legal or not, whether they maintain a studio, and their real status.  Hilarious sometimes, like kids brag how good they are at HALO and Tanki games, and some shooters pretend to be what they are not.

There are many other sites devoted to Wedding Photographers.  But, like most of the web, take things with a grain of salt, two shots of vodka and a twist of lemon.  Ego’s run prolific in this business and everyone’s a pro on the web.  

Just look at some sites and you’ll realize a few are more conversation than talent. And see how many have the same Wedding Music in the background, the same style as they all bought them from a booth at WPPI or on-line.  Clones of Clones.  

Type in Wedding Forums on Google and a lifetime of reading is before you. Type in a few names of the shooters from the odd groups on Google and it’s like reading the tabloids. A few have a pretty shady past.  Several we found in NEW JERSEY should have warrants or doing time by now. Some did, the article is buried in this site somewhere. Big time lawsuit.

YOU should serve the client, not force your beliefs or issues. If their style is not the best style for you, get someone else to do it and a referral fee is better than nothing or a goof up. Again, I am NOT picking on any age groups, religious groups or ethnicities, just a few tips for political correctness and to CYA.

Older established families and higher more elaborate level Weddings go far more often to the conservative side with shooter covering the basics and then: the PJ style thrown into the mix for complete coverage and a better bottom line.

 

NEW DAWN
Weddings today have changed. It used to be a relatively simple celebration of life event with kisses, hugging, bell ringing, glass clanking, toasts, lots of hoop-a's and mazel-tovs.  

It’s a different story today.  Today, they are choreographed epics with Bridezillas and reality show wedding gown failures and Estrogen emotional crack-ups.  On the other side of the coins spent, there may be Testosterone emblazoned fighting, the display of lower rear and now frontal body parts, use of poor language and the consumption of alcohol and a few illegal drugs.

With basically bare bulbs, a Graflex and plates, evolving into twin lens reflexes like the Yashica, Rollie, Mamiya and Minolta, I, (WE) somehow managed to cover the event usually based on 120 prints in an album.  That was the past.  Two decades from now those older pictures will still be the same, and the ones taken today will bring comments like "why did we invite those people"?  It's called growing up and many of the wedding couples may not be very mature, influenced by elders also not developed thinkers.

 

THE WEDDING TODAY
Weddings today, and I have spoken of this in the many articles and seminars, do fall into categories both by the participants and those hired to do the bidding.  If I were to do the structure on a chart it would start with a basic out line as follows;  

Bear in mind this is NOT a condemnation of financial structure but the style points for various general assemblies, and nothing is in stone, I have witnessed some real high-end Weddings where the damages exceeded the actual costs, the retail of the Wedding.  Anything is possible… this is just a guide.

 

WEALTHY WEDDINGS are usually: 
 
Over the top; Traditional; Conservative; Hollywood / Photojournalist

MIDDLE CLASS WEDDINGS commonly are:  
Traditional; Conservative; Semi - Hollywood; Semi - Photojournalist

ECONO CLASS WEDDINGS hold the line at:  
Traditional; Conservative and sometimes bizarre

INSANE CLASS WEDDINGS MAY BE:
Via parachute, Underwater, in Caves, in Graveyards...

BARE-ASS OR THEME WEDDINGS most likely are:  
Hopefully Traditional and Simple; Lots of fun; Caution Can Be Unpredictable, 
Redneck En-fused; Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal and Warcraft.

 

 

COUPLE OF CRITICAL THOUGHTS
•  First, I make a strong point of NOT telling them what to do unless they ask.  You are not the Wedding organizer and when the “KA-KA" hits the electric air flow rotational device (the fan) you do not wish to be standing or stepped in front of the Brides wishes, her mom nor the coordinator. 

•  Your job at the Wedding is to record the event in a pleasing and complimentary way to the participants regardless of how crazy it or they might appear to you. This is especially important in the second phase of the Wedding after the Church ceremony and things lighten up.

•  Second, never get in the way of the proceedings in the Church.  Any unusual rules or regulations should have been discussed at rehearsals or beforehand with the Church leader, Priest or Rabbi.  If I must, I will study the setup and adjust my game plan to fit the situation.  I am also looking for opportunities for the money maker or unusual shot that could take it over the top simply because we saw something from another angle.

•  Wedding photography is like shooting sports, you are in the moment and redux simply don't exist. It's the reason many don't join this profession and the reason many work with a second shooter or assistant. But the second shooter usually walks in cold and has no priors with the family.

•  Generally, I avoid the following:   Weddings at Religious retreats, Wiccan, Druidic rites, and Satanic or S&M worship.  I stay clear and won’t even go there.  

•  I usually forward those requests to someone else. You do not want to get tagged there, unless it’s your bag.  If some of the strange is your bag, you might be able to build a monopoly and that’s OK because you are in control and understand different people. I hesitated to use the word weird.

•  I do and have accepted corporate work but I treated it as a Wedding till I established a following with them. Get it in writing, get a deposit, do it by the book...enough said.  That’s it for the more unpopular and unconventional Weddings and Events. Now we’ll look at different types of weddings.

 

WE ARE NOT SIMILAR
We live in a world of cultural difference and nothing shows that premise better than the Wedding ceremony which you, have been retained to perform at.  Those folks have selected you to be the court scribe on the most important day of their lives.  In the old days, going as far back as the Neo-Babylonian days the court scribe recorded all the events and rulings and changes the Kings, Judges and others made.  

The scribe was fairly-safe since many could not read or write in those days.  If he needed a break, he said to the King, “Hold that thought chief I ran out of ink and need to get another squid”.

If you screw up, the results could vary so the point is the more you know the less you will not know when it counts.  Here are a couple of clues as to what to look out for. And I mean no harm or inference to anyone, just telling it like it is or in my case was. One must respect the difference and cultural beliefs people have. 

The next pages show the differences in some common culturally different weddings… High End, Jewish and Indian on this page, others follow.