A friend of mine recently did me a great honor of asking me to photograph his wedding for him. Now, I had never photographed a wedding before. I'd photographed family reunions and parties before but a wedding? Generally not exactly an insignificant day in someone's life and cause to be especially nervous. We met and discussed what they wanted, clicked really well and I agreed to "take the job", so to say.
I was especially keen to do it because it's something I'd secretly always wanted to do but was always too hesitant to do. What if I missed the first kiss? What if I tripped and fell during the ceremony, destroying my camera and their photos? Maybe my cards would fail in the middle of the day and I couldn't shoot? Would I forget to put the batteries or cards in the camera? These are the concerns I had but this is why we prepare. Besides, I like a challenge.
The wedding was also in one of the most beautiful places in all of Austria, namely Dürnstein, which is smack dab in the middle of the Wachau valley, one of my favorite places. Tourists go out of their way when visiting Vienna to take in the landscape and culture of this little sliver of paradise.
Needless to say, I was game.
Jenny and I drove out two weeks before the ceremony was to take place to scout locations and get a feel for the city. Dürnstein's tiny streets are packed during the summer, especially on weekends, with tourists from across the world, so I wanted to see what things were like during the winter. In fact, when we went everything was covered in almost a meter of snow, a phenomenon that was not to repeat itself two weeks later. Although I was happy to have ample sun and light, snow would have been beautiful to photograph as well - my friend Tony Gigov, a real wedding photographer, had the opportunity once already.
In the nights leading up to the wedding I made sure all of my gear was charged, tested and squared away. I brought an extra flash in case I needed it along with my radio trigger and also packed my Nikon FE along with a few rolls of color and black & white film along with a few lenses in case my D610 or one of the AF lenses failed. A Boy Scout is always prepared.
How did the day go, though? No issues whatsoever. I got there, got in the zone and went to work capturing the day. At first it was a bit odd. I was almost nervous about photographing people but after the guests arrive, see that you're the photographer, they swiftly forget that you're even there. Even with my height and a massive camera in my hands I felt like a ghost at times.
My key takeaway from the day, though? Wedding photography is hard. I knew it was going to be hard going into it but I was still surprised by how tired I was at the end of the day.
This isn't something you just show up for - it requires a great deal of planning and forethought on the part of the photographer but, and I think this is the most important, a constant eye on your environment, looking for anything that might be about to happen. I'm glad that I've found my niche in more reportage/street photography themes where speed and anticipation are key because all of those hours spent outside pounding pavement paid for themselves in dividends on this day.
Thank you again to the lovely couple for honoring me with the opportunity to immortalize their special day - it's an experience that I will forever treasure.