Welcome to the unabashed boot camp and survival guide for the Photographer new to Weddings and other events with compelling issues that tend to surface causing great pain and possible financial losses. 

This book has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and we make no claims it will cure any disease, or malady caused by shooting Weddings or you being shot at the Wedding by the Brides Father. On the other hand a good laugh will sometimes prevent suicide. 

No photographers were injured during the writing of this book and if you cannot afford an attorney, my nephew will be available at the usual attorney fees for malpractice cases. I will get a referral fee if you do use him.

This is the first of several sections.  The first section is the most important, it being your relationship to the bride and the event. The second is the relationship of you to the business.  The third section "Equipment" changes so often it is not what this book is about but has to be here.  

I rate equipment as secondary because without a knowledge of weddings in general, lighting or negotiation you have nothing.  I generally talk about the need and usage of gear rather than get into long debates over whose over gimmicked toy is better because most of it is advertising and few fish are caught on hooks without bait.

The technical relationships between you and your gear are your choices. No two people think the same in this respect and gear branders are hilariously protective and usually quite loud and party lined in the brain thinker department.   They have to be,  they bring nothing else to the table.  With gear I speak generically. I also will delve into lighting theory, locations and of course the Jacobs Dictionary of all those photo terms confusing to some.

I retired from the shooting sports, politics (events) and most Weddings January 1, 2012, after fifty years in the game. My brain is still coherent, thought process wise, I'm 100%, but physically wise, those thirty plus pound bags I carried as a shooter for years and standing for hours has added up in my left shoulder to my neck, my legs and knees.  The MRI's confirmed things.  I will listen to the Doc or I will meet his golfing buddy, Dr. Arthur Pedick.  I walk and bike ride now instead.  

No more weddings, I said in 2012, I'll teach and advise but no more marathons on these tired wheels though I will never turn down a good friend or associate in a jam for help.  I got the call, a good friend needed a pinch hitter and they were good customers of mine.  I said Ok for grins, and also to keep a shooters eye.  In the old days who cared, extra gigs were three hour weddings and off we went and dumped the job at the lab.  Grabbed another, sometimes three in a day.  

This call was different… a modern day “marathon” complete with sibling competition, intrigue over-budget, intervening aunts and in-laws.  They had picked this one from another studio who probably did not get along with the Bride, and were going to be one shooter short.  The 2nd shooter was green and this was above her pay scale.  This wedding was already in containment with tears, changes and a host of estrogen and a few days away.

I had this feeling the original shooter had this lustful desire to shoot the Bride not with a Nikon but with a Remington 1187.   And this was a late botched booking with little info sourced, acknowledged and in writing.  There were several red flags, red...more like the entire Russian Army in Parade Dress.

The other photographer bailed on them and that explained the late booking.  I’ll never know what happened. But this was all to familiar about what I wrote about thirty years ago when I spoke of the Devil in the Black Dress. There is no replacement for experience and I had nothing to lose, not my gig so I went in, trying to help the new gal. shooter2 who was in trouble. 


Within ten minutes after I got there, just as they were arriving to do the pre-wedding hair make-up and so forth, I had it figured out.  HINT: Just watching the folks arriving tells you a lot.  You’ll see who is directing others, and who is "the stick”.  In the carnival business, business dealings, scams, almost any meeting of the minds involves decisions made by the leaders. The true leader or boss always ”carried the stick” or made the decisions.  Thats who you want to deal with.  The other players need to be doing something else.

I was told no one had interviewed the Bride but the feedback was, "she mean and used to pushing people around".  Experience told me I didn’t see it or want to pre-judge that way.  From what I gathered, her attitude was nothing more than pressure building up and exerted on her as her confidents, her aunts and friends had been doing a lot of manipulation.  She was just taking on everybody alone and needed an ally.  I wondered if I had packed my Remington.   

I went to the ladies dressing room, and met the Bride for the first time.  Not my usual procedure, in my Bridal world, by wedding time I usually had been with the Bride that I booked and sold,  at least three times.  Even a casual lunch plus two rehearsals makes you a friend, and puts everyone on the same page.  After we exchanged pleasantries on my behalf and some unpleasantries on her behalf, aided by her confidents,  I just sat down and didn’t say a word.  I got ten minutes of face job and her list of things that went wrong.  I asked the non-essentials (aunts and a future in-law)  to leave as I do not negotiate with three screamers.  I told them they were distressing the Bride. They were stunned.  The Bride asked for privacy and for them to step out.

I carefully made an issue of wrapping up my gear and headed for the door.  She said something like "Where the hell are you going"?   I said, "I have done Bridal work for forty years, some in featured Bridal Magazines and thought this Wedding had great potential since I had heard how pretty the Bride was”.  Obviously, I’m at the wrong function.”  Your crew has managed to turn me off.  I said to her,  "I came to make the most important day of your life a magnificent one” and I felt bad because she was beautiful, radiantly stunning, invitingly wholesome, and had quite a healthy look that would really be expressed in the photos and a winner but the whole attitude here was ruining my creativity.  

I explained we could make the photos the center of her experience that day like a model photo shoot and keep her focused I would be doing the posing. She should not be overwhelmed by small things and the mistakes and the regimen her supporters had tossed on her.   This was her day and all the others do not count.  She is the Bride the most important figure in the room, not her mother, not her aunt , not her future mother-in-law.

Nothing was said for about two minutes, and she was shaking, turned to me and asked, You really think so?   I said yes, she was drop dead gorgeous and she could have gotten married in a potato sack and pulled it off.  I explained, this is the time for her to be the star and I was there to help her achieve that.  A wedding is all her, all about the day and it’s now.  

I got a hug, an apology, they got started on the hair and makeup, listened to my suggestions and we formed a bond.  Amazing what an underliner and some makeup tricks can do.  And it went as smooth as butter left out of the fridge on the table all day. I still do her kids and family shots.  No one had taken the time to show her a little human compassion for the job she was about to do.  She still is drop dead gorgeous.

For those who glimpsed the last few episodes from Bridezilla,  I feel it is the only TV show where I wanted to  strangle the producer. They alone, in conjunction with great fictional staff writers, too much wine, booze, weed and a fair amount of "feminosterone" are responsible for making so many brides look so unrealistic and unwholesome, portraying them as "bitch-like," making trouble for Wedding Photographers, caterers, wedding designers, and others in the industry.  Looking on the good side…be happy you are not the groom.

Watching Bridezilla is good training for the Wedding shooter, as the Chinese General SUN TZU mentioned, "Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster”.  Knowing there are Brides to be who watch that drivel, and think that is how you act is inconceivable.  So I am asking you for your help in a project I am working on for my book, "The Wedding Photographers Guide".  If you have a story of a Bride, you broke your heart on, and wished a few other body parts on, we will use it in the book to help others and give you credit.