THE WEDDING BUSINESS



IT'S A BIZARRE DARK BUSINESS AT TIMES
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;  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.  Holy water over Glenlivet, the drunk, at least he had good taste. His daughter didn’t think so.  We carried on.  She never spoke to him again.

•  On another occasion you get a chance to do a couple like this 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 room.  They got caught.   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 some countries her head would have been used in a polo tournament. The groom announced the 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.

•  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.  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. I handled it and as a young Wedding shooter made double on that deal.  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.


A HUGE DRAMA CLUB
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, you have to be 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. 

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…
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. POSTOGRAPHERS and PHOTOGRAPHERS are two different strokes.  One creates a mode that never existed and the other steals a precious moment of time.


LEARNING
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.


UNCLE HARRY
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.

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 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.

This is BOOT Camp, Part one. 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.