Well, In the beginning......
Sounds almost biblical, and why not, some weddings do happen in church, though most these days go down the civil wedding route, yet both are as meaningful as each other, and its that meaning that I've come to love. Love witnessing, love capturing, and for a small time, love helping celebrate with the couple and their family and friends, though I would hope the photos I capture help the happy couple celebrate for a very long time, but I'll be honest, that was never my sole motive when I first started in weddings.
At heart, I'm a techy geek who loves gadgets and grown-up toys, and cameras and photography fit very nicely into that category. I'd had cameras as a kid and a teenager, but the bug didn't really bite at that stage, it was in my mid-twenties that it really kicked in when my Dad gave me his old HP Photosmart 945 camera. It was my first digital camera, one where you could get at the files and put them on a computer, edit and print them, instead of just sending off a roll of film, and it was that extra involvement that grabbed my techy instincts.
As time passed my interest in digital photography grew hugely, to the point when my second child was due to be born in 2008 I upgraded the HP for a Sony A100, my first DSLR, and although it was an entry-level camera, it was a big step up in quality and learning. Two days after purchase he was born, two days in which I hadn't really learned a thing about it and rather than not get any shots after he arrived I admitted defeat and stuck it in auto mode. IT did well enough, but that was probably the last time I ever shot in full auto mode.
Anyway, roll forward another 3 years, and I'd invested a lot of time in learning, the camera, photography, editing, the full works, and over that time I'd made 3 more camera upgrades, from the A100 to the A350, to the A700 and then the A77.
Then came the opportunity to shoot a wedding, and it wasn't something I was looking to get involved in as a job, I'd never thought about it as being a business/career, to be honest I think the thought of doing one probably terrified me, as I appreciate the importance of wedding photography and getting it right, and the fear of failure does not sit well with me.
However, my cousin Jacky was getting wed, knew of my love for photography and so asked if I would be prepared to shoot the day for her, to which I agreed, and although I thought I would do ok at it, I never thought it would be as enjoyable to me as it was, and that the set imagery I came away with could be as good as it ended up and so it got me thinking, maybe I could do this again.
I will say though, that first wedding wasn't done alone, I roped in a good friend called Scot Baston, of Zooming Feet Photography & Zooming Websites, because he'd done a few weddings at that point and I thought his input into how a wedding day is shot would be invaluable, and I wasn't wrong. It wasn't a case of needing him to show me how to shoot, but kinda what to shoot and when, what order things are done in and how to run a day.
My second wedding came quite a few months after my first, mainly because it took quite a while for me to believe in myself and actually advertise my services, but when I did again I gained some second shooting help from another great friend, Shelly Lovegrove of Lovegrove Design & Photography, who I just wanted that safety net of someone else being there who had the proper experience of shooting weddings, and from there on in I pretty much went at it alone unless a couple wanted me to have a second shooter.
Here's the thing though, for me back then it was still just about the photography, the using of the cameras, being the techy geek, and although I captured weddings well, with some quite stunning bride groom portraiture right from the off, I hadn't taken the time to involve myself in the day, witness or feel the emotion of the day, it was just about the capturing of the moment, and you might well think thats the point of me being there, and yes you'd be right. However, as I settled into wedding photography and into my style and into trusting myself and my gear, I guess I started to relax into it more, started to involve myself a little more, and started to step up and take control when I needed to.
A good example of this growth would be from two separate weddings, one being Rose & Will's, and the next being Ellie & Luke's. Will and Ellie are brother and sister, and I shot Will's wedding to Rose first and I think their wedding was probably within my first 15 weddings, but about 3 years later Ellie got in touch and asked if I would shoot her wedding to Luke, so their wedding was probably somewhere around wedding number 50. Now a good number of Ellie & Luke's wedding guests had seen me shoot Rose and Will's big day, and late on in the day I got chatting to a couple of wedding guests and they said "I recognise you as you did Rose and Will's wedding, but you are a completely changed person. Today you'd been assertive, confident, fun, funny, relaxed, in control, its like you've owned the role"
That praise is still hugely appreciated to this day, as it gave me such a boost, cos sometimes when you are on a long journey you don't always see the little milestones that you hit along the way that influence what you have become over time, so it was nice to know.
That change and growth in experience has also lead to my motives for weddings to have changed as well. I no longer fear shooting weddings, well I'm 320+ weddings into this, as I trust myself and my gear, and I no longer do it solely for the buzz of being good with cameras. I actually love the emotion of the day now too. Time and experience has allowed me to relax into a wedding day and see it as more than just an event to be photographed, and believe it or not, I can easily well up behind the camera as the bride and groom get all emotional in the ceremony, or as the father of the bride gives his speech and gets a little teary eyed to.
So if you want a proper camera geek who knows his gear inside out, who can easily work with any kind of venue, lighting situation, and still come away with great imagery, who can help run your day in a fun, friendly and assertive way (Cos at points you have to be to keep the afternoon running to time, as the chef would really appreciate it if guests are seated on time so they can serve up when the food has reached perfection) but also one who can't promise not to shed a tear or two at the emotional parts of the day, but will still capture what needs capturing, then please do give me a shout!!!