Today is a pretty "monumental" day for JTP - it's the 5th anniversary of the very FIRST wedding I photographed! Really - I can't believe it's already been that long. In some ways it feels like just yesterday…
I hadn't been in the "photo world" very long and I was determined that I'd need to be a photographer for "like 10 years" before I would ever take on the terrifying task of documenting a wedding. Weddings are scary - there's not a chance to reshoot anything. If you miss the kiss, you're in trouble. What if I think they're looking good and then when I get them back to the computer they're awful?! Scared wasn't even close to what I felt when I thought about shooting a wedding.
BUT - regardless of all those fears, someone had asked if I would shoot their special day and I "caved in" because they literally begged. I made sure they knew that I hadn't done this before and that I could only promise to try my best… They were just thrilled I'd be there to capture their day for them! I didn't even have a flash to mount on my camera - so, for the price of a professional flash and an airplane ticket home (because I was in school in AR) I agreed to shoot the wedding.
There are many things I learned that day, and many many memories that will forever be seared in my heart - but there's one thing that still makes me laugh at myself to this day! See, I knew nothing about using flash - especially in a dark church - but I had done some research and knew that the light needed to be "soft" to be visually appealing. Well the only way I could make that happen was to "bounce it" and those thirty-foot ceilings just weren't going to work for us. So… For the family formals (here's where I always begin to chuckle) I had my cousin stand on the pew behind me with a HUGE, white, tri-fold display board held up in the air so that I could bounce the light behind me and then onto the family. I seriously wish that I had a photo of the scene I made. The light was perfect, but I sure did look like a goof!
Although it was a stressful day, I made it through and came out a stronger photographer. I went on to photograph 6 more weddings in the next few months and that's when I really began to focus on making this my career. That wedding was a HUGE stepping stone to the person I am today. I'm so very thankful those two people trusted me enough to capture their wedding!
Alright - I'll stop rambling about the scariest and most humiliating day of my life and get on with the real reason I started this blog post…
5 Things I've Learned Since Shooting My FIRST Wedding
1. WEDDINGS ARE AWESOME. I've had the immense pleasure of being a part of more weddings than I can even count over the last 5 years. I have been able to not only experience first-hand the happiest moments of a couple's life togehter, but I've been there to document it so that they can share it with their future children and grandchildren. On the greatest day of their lives, I've been able to laugh with my couples, share in their excitement and simply experience the love that truly connects two hearts. I've laughed until I've cried when hearing stories of how they met one another, and I've laid my camera down to help calm the nerves of a bride just moments before her ceremony. It's been an incredible thing to be a small part of so many journeys to married life! (Plus - wedding cake is ALWAYS delicious!)
2. EVERY COUPLE IS DIFFERENT. I know it sounds cliche, but every wedding I'm a part of is different from all the others I've been a part of. I love to see the different family dynamics, friendships and the things that are most special to each couple I'm privileged to work with. After getting to know my couples it's so rewarding to watch how their vision for the perfect wedding day comes together. I love to see all the details and specifics we talked about play out right before their very eyes. I love being around so many different couples because it truly keeps my job fresh and exciting.
3. SOMETHING WILL USUALLY GO AGAINST THE PLANS. I know this sounds pessimistic, but hear me out on this one. Whether one of the bridesmaids really "shows herself," the dreaded rain shower appears, a floral arrangement falls down or the ring bearer just won't come down the aisle - something (usually very minor) will go a little "wrong." BUT - that's the beauty of weddings! No matter how much you prepare and plan, it's left up to fate. Your wedding will be full of so many great memories and beautiful moments, I promise that you will not have a problem with the terrified flower girl that ran down the aisle in the middle of the ceremony. These little things that "went wrong" will be the things that truly bring you the most laughter just a few months down the road - trust me!
4. WEDDING DAYS FLY BY. No matter how much you plan to truly enjoy your wedding day, when it's over it will feel like a blur - and that's ok! There are so many things going on during your day as a bride and groom, it's literally impossible to soak every moment in to it's fullest. One of the biggest pieces of advice I give to my couple for their wedding is this: "After your rehearsal, decide that you're finished worrying about things and you're going to relax and try to fully enjoy your wedding day." Preparing yourself ahead of time to not worry about little "snafus" and truly take in every moment that you can will make your wedding day infinitely more special for you! (I'm at weddings all the time, and I still wasn't able to set everything aside on my wedding day! Oh how I wish I had taken my own advice!)
5. YOUR WEDDING WILL BE BETTER THAN YOU DREAMED. Your wedding will most likely be a little different than you had planned and tried to execute, but when it's all done you'll not want to change a single thing about it. Chances are, you were surrounded by the people that meant the most to you, and you married the love of your life. Isn't that what's most important? "The little things won't matter the morning after." Weddings are an incredible journey and enjoying the ride is a huge part of the entire experience!
Well… There you have it! 5 things that I've learned in the last 5 years as a wedding photographer! Here's to not just 5, but 50 more years of working with the most amazing couples!