Wedding Day Approaches…

Not mine!! No, tomorrow I am honoured to be the official photographer for friends of my daughters at their wedding. Don’t panic. It’s not the first one I’ve done, but it is the first one for a few years, so i’ve been revising.

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It’s funny how much things have changed though. The equipment has obviously changed completely. Back in the day, I would never have shot a wedding on 35mm, it was always on my Bronica 6×6. And it never really crossed my mind that I’d get the exposure wrong because I had my Gossen Lunasix to give me the settings. But now shooting with a pretty competent Canon 5D mkii, the only thing that I can think about is corrupt files, or even losing the CF card. To think that not that many years ago, I was taking 2 shots of every pose to make sure that I didn’t only get a shot where the bride was blinking, which meant that i’d only get 6 poses per roll. Now, my memory cards will hold in excess of 1000 shots each, so I can take half a dozen of each pose just to make double sure.

And families? I’m sure they’re not, but they seem so complicated now. It was hard enough when one of the parents was on a second marriage and you were asked to keep the old and new spouses apart, but now I’m having to shoot certain poses in secret and not let the others see them, deal with too many grandparents then there should ever be in a family, make sure that Emily doesn’t stand next to Gemma, and be finished within 15 minutes just incase uncle Neville’s IBS flares up!

And the ‘set list’ of poses is now completely changed. But this is possibly my favourite part. My first wedding couple have asked for some fun images, and have virtually left me to it. They really are up for anything. There’ll still be the traditional poses, but lots more casual, informal and, hopefully, humourous images. After a few years away, I must be careful not to introduce too much cheese!

So tonight I’ll be writing my set list which i’ll probably ignore tomorrow when I switch on auto-pilot. I’ll charge all of my batteries which I’m dependant on, format the memory cards and check they’re still functioning, clean my lenses, and practice folding up my Lastolite reflector so that I don’t look like a complete amateur on the day.

So, do I want to include weddings in my business plan going forward? Yes, probably they will form a major part for next year. Assuming tomorrow goes well of course, else I’m emigrating on sunday morning! If I can cope with the stress and pressure of knowing that my work will be one of the few things that the couple have to remember the day by, if i’m happy to wait months, or years, to get the final order in for the album and guest prints, if I can accept responsibility for not getting a shot of Aunty Jean with Pat from the newsagent that nobody told me about, then the rewards are pretty good as I seem to remember.

I have a friend that runs a wedding village. They have units which are leased to florists, dressmakers, entertainers , and of course photographers. It’s like a bit of a network. If the MC gets a gig, he’ll recommend the car hire, and they’ll recommend the dress hire etc etc. And they hold regular wedding fayre so I need to start paying attention to their Facebook page, get my portfolio up to date and start to network.

That’s enough for now. I’m off to watch YouTube wedding photograph tips for the rest of the evening. See you on the other side!!

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Teaching Lightroom

I signed up for Photoshop CC a few years back, and got an odd ‘free’ piece of software called Lightroom. I’d never heard of it and had no idea what it did. Photoshop did really cool stuff (that I couldn’t do anyway), but Lightroom was some sort of catalogue thingy. So there it sat as a lonely un-opened icon in the tray along the bottom of Windows 7.

To lots of photographers this might sound familiar. After chatting with the guys at the local camera club, 95% of them had a version of Photoshop, 80% of them had the CC version (so had Photoshop and Lightroom) and only 10 of them used Lightroom the way that it was intended. Most, like me, wasn’t sure what Lightroom did, so didn’t use it. Shame. Such a great piece of software.

By accident, I was watching some YouTube tutorials on Photoshop. The guy (whose name escapes me now) also did a bit on Lightroom. The more I watched, the more interested I became. At this point virtually all of my processing and editing was done in Photoshop. The more I learned from ….whatshisname, the more the balance shifted towards Lightroom. I scoured YouTube for more Lightroom tutorials. Phlearn, PIC, Serge Ramelli and Julianne Kost from Adobe. A font of knowledge. Some of the stuff was amazing, and to me it seemed very intuitive.

Couple on Sea Wall
With Lightroom processing.
Couple on Sea Wall
The RAW image

The guys at the camera club knew that I was ‘into’ Lightroom, and I’d spend the drinking time afterwards being questioned about Lightroom. Eventually I was asked to put on a short crash course at the club to show what Lightroom could do. Gerry (his name hasn’t been changed to protect his identity) was against Lightroom and Photoshop. “Digital witchcraft!!” He would mutter. But generally, the guys were interested in this underused tool on their desktop. A number asked for one-on-one sessions, and even paid me for my time! It is probably the best hourly rate i’ve ever earned. I must do more. Learn more. Become a certified expert, then I can advertise and then charge an even higher rate.

So that’s the plan for Lightroom. The certification exam is held locally, consists of 50 multi-choice questions, and cost £58. Sound like a good deal, assuming I pass of course. And if i get a studio space set up, I could run small seminars. Judging by the chaps from my local club, there’ll be a fair amount of other photographers looking for some teaching in Lightroom.