The Wedding from Heaven: Let's face it, we've all heard stories of weddings from hell. Photographically speaking, I mean. Either complaints from the photographer about clients, or complaints from clients about photographers. When something goes amiss with a wedding photography gig, somebody, it seems, wants to share a blow-by-blow account of how dreadful it was and how bitterly disappointed or disgusted they are. Those are the tales that get all the attention.
It's a little like the way we hear so much about Tiger Woods and Jesse what's-his-name with the tattoos. Nobody ever talks about the millions of people who are happily married, love their spouses, are faithful as a matter of course, and wouldn't have it any other way. Where's the sensationalism in that? But there are lots and lots of good marriages out there. I'm not married myself, but I have plenty of friends and relatives who are happily coupled. A number of them have been that way for a quarter of a century, a few for twice as long, or more.
You seldom hear about the wedding shoots that don't go awry. Many wedding photographers do excellent work. Wedding photographers do excellent work every weekend all over the land. In most lands, in fact. Those stories must be as boring as the ones about the faithful husbands and the happy marriages.
Anyway, here's what wedding photography is like when all goes well. I'm going to depart from my usual practice and not show a sample; take a look at the whole set on Fred Miranda. The photographer, Evan Baines, says the scans are bad, so we'll overlook the slightly dicey tonality. If I did pick one to show, it would probably be one of the two with the bride's veil flying in the wind. I like the slight edge of weirdness in those. That's just me. This is also just me: black-and-white film is best for weddings in my not-so-humble experience. B&W negatives are natively archival.
I'll gently point out that it helps to be second shooter—takes a lot of the pressure off—and to have a couple who are so good looking and have mobile, expressive faces (the bride's face is expressive, at least. The groom does his part by looking chiseled and not obviously shell-shocked). And to have it take place in such a great location. And outdoors, with natural light. In such nice weather (wind aside). Sometimes it just all comes together—for the couple, yes, but for the photographer, is what I mean.
Kudos to Evan Baines for a job superlatively done. Lucky couple, to get wedding pictures like these.
(Thanks to Jayson Merryfield)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Yunfat: "Don't tell anyone...I am the main shooter at my wedding jobs, but appear to be the second shooter who 'doesn't speak English' (in order to deflect any requests coming my way and keep my eye on the bride, my sole concern). I hire a very good pro to do the formals, set pieces, stock stuff, and take the pressure off (parents grabbing you for shots gets old very fast when they know you are the 'main guy'); almost none of those shots make the book I give the clients (even though my second shooter is an accomplished wedding pro in his own right). However, the bride's parents and older relatives like the stock stuff, whereas anyone 35 and under will likely prefer my 'blurry' gallery.
"Only the bride and groom and a few select people actually know I am the talent. It just works."
Mike replies: Yunfat, That is...absolutely brilliant. Never once occurred to me, and I never heard of it before. But...brilliant.
Featured Comment by Anonymous: "I am indeed impressed and jealous of Baines’ work.
"And here is the diametric complement to the second-to-last paragraph: Your difficulties are raised to the tenth power when the groom is pudgy and the bride is wrinkled. And when the dressing room is a dingy church basement that hosts potlucks. And when ceremony takes place outside under midday sun with no shade. And when the reception takes place in a VFW with fluorescent lights and eight foot dropped ceilings.
"Evan Baines is talented and lucky to have such a wedding to add to his portfolio. If any aspiring wedding photographers haven’t figured it out: first and foremost, you need to be a second shooter for an established wedding photographer. The experience is important but the resulting portfolio even more so. With a portfolio like this, you can charge a lot more $$$ for weddings and this is key. Why? Because it’s only rich people who can afford to have extravagant weddings in beautiful places, and only the well-heeled will take a plunge with an expensive photographer who has a stunning portfolio. Last of all, to make a huge (and cynical) generalization, rich people tend to be more photogenic as well.
"Yes, there are exceptions but if you’re an inexpensive photographer, you’re more likely to be catering to the pudgy grooms, wrinkled bridges, dingy church basements, etc. And with a portfolio like that, it will be much harder to climb the ladder."
Featured Comment by Evan Baines: "Mike, Thanks for the review and the kind words! If I'd have known this set would get this level of attention, I would've made sure to get better scans...these are the unedited cheapy Noritsu 1500px autoscans that my lab offered instead of contacts. You're right on about the dicey tonality. You have a great site and I'm thrilled to be featured on it!"
Mike replies: The pleasure's all mine, Evan. Thanks.