21st October 2017 I wake up and look at my clock. It’s 7:30am and straight away I start to feel nervous. It’s the morning of our first wedding shoot but I know I have to do this if I want to get better at it and after all...there’s a first time for everything!
I head downstairs and check over the equipment I prepared the night before. 1 camera body check, 2 lenses check, 1 flash check, 2 fully charged batteries check and 2 formatted SD cards check. “Better to be safe than sorry” I thought. Not knowing I was about to learn one of the most important lessons about wedding photography that very first day.
As we pulled into the brides street I turn to Kelly and ask her which number Leanne’s house is. After checking my phone “Number 4“ she says so I pull up outside number 4. I get out of the car, my heart was pounding wondering if I’m early. Which I was but not to early I thought. The curtains are still drawn and there’s seems to be a strange silence about the place. I knock on the door. After a couple of minutes a man answers the door with a confused look on his face. “Hi there I’m the wedding photographer“ I say. “Erm not today mate” he replies. “You’ll want that side”. He says pointing over the road. Sure enough there is 2 street names in 1 street. “What’s the chances of that?” I thought. I walk back towards the car.
There’s a grassy area on the other side of the road and looking up at that moment I see 4 figures in a living room window waving frantically with the biggest smiles on there faces. Straight away I knew those must be the bridesmaids as not many people wear dresses this time of the morning. I look at Kelly in the car and she smiles shaking her head. I take a deep breath and head up to the house.
“Hi, everyone does that so don’t worry about it, we get their mail all the time”. Leanne said. I felt my idea of the perfect entrance that I’d lay thinking about the night before had slightly faded. It was a bit hectic in the house with about 4 kids getting ready, running up and down the stairs with bridesmaids and mother-in-law getting all excited about the big day ahead. As usual the bride was the coolest in the room. I always seem to find that at bridal preps. The MUA was already at work on the bride and after we introduced ourselves, I got my camera out.
I stood near the front door as there was people all over the place, putting my camera bag under the table so none of the kids would fall and hurt themselves. That was the last thing we would have needed on her wedding day. I looked at my camera and thought...”here we go!” I’ve always shot in manual but for a split second I look at the ‘A’ for automatic on the dial on the camera. It might take a little pressure off I thought. I leave it on manual and raise the viewfinder towards my eye. Click! My first shot as a wedding photographer.
The bridal prep went great. Dress, shoes, jewellery, perfume and bridesmaids coming down the stairs all taken care of. I had an idea of which photos I was going to try and get after doing my research and looking through social media posts. Kelly entertained a glass of wine and the kids for a while whilst Mam and Aunties pottered on getting ready. I took my time and picked my shots at the bridal prep and soon I began to feel more relaxed. Seeing Kelly sitting there chatting to the bridesmaids I couldn’t resist getting a photo of her. There was just something about her that morning. I just knew she was there with me, we were a team and she looked really happy.
Getting into the car we had an extra passenger. One of the guests needed a lift. No problem, we put the church postcode in the sat nav and off we go. “Everything’s going good” Kelly said. I agreed. It was going to take 20 minutes to get to the church. Or atleast it was meant to. The sat nav took us on the fastest route. The problem was the sat nav wasn’t to know the local council had decided to close a bridge for refurbishment over the A1M. Panic set in! Although I couldn’t really show it with a guest sitting in the back seat. I didn’t have a clue how we were going to get over the A1M without this bridge. We did though somehow and we pulled up outside the church with moments to spare.
As I walked into the church I see a young, good looking lad sitting at the front talking to his usher. “Hi mate I’m the photographer, you must be Stephen?”. “Alright? Looking smart there mate” he replies. I had been working in a factory for years before even thinking about doing this so I took his compliment as a bit of a surprise. I took it though as it took me ages to remember how to tie my tie that morning.
”The best man has forgotten the rings and has had to go back home to get them“ he said laughing. ”Unbelievable!” I thought and there’s me hurrying. Poor Leanne had to sit outside in the car until the best man got back. Eventually the ceremony began and emotions began to flow. Everything went as planned for the happy couple after a few worrying moments. I began snapping away and like most photographers on their first few weddings I overshot making sure I never missed a moment. Once again better to be safe than sorry.
Afterwards the formal family photos were needed and Leanne took control arranging people and getting family members together. She was amazing! I was already feeling nervous about having to arrange people. She had no choice really as I didn’t have a list of shots she wanted prior to the wedding and I didn’t know who was who. See we hadn’t arranged a consultation session between ourselves and the couple. Luckily the photographs came out amazing for Leanne and Stephen and everyone was happy the way things went.
This was our first ever wedding shoot.
An unpaid wedding shoot.
A wedding shoot to help build our portfolio.
As I said earlier I learned one of the most important lessons in wedding photography that day.
‘Preparation is everything!‘
Since then every wedding we do we have a consultation with the bride and groom, I have a wanted photo list in my back pocket for the day, we visit the venue many times before the big day, I do a recce run the week before to plan our route and timings and I always remind the best man to pick up the rings!
Things don’t always work out exactly as they’re ‘planned‘ on your day...but it always works out and there’s never a 2nd time for mistakes!