April 5, 2014

Pancake Session: Notes to Myself My First Year of Weddings

This journey with photography is just that….it’s a long & winding road that, if you do it right, it never ends. You never, ever, ever stop learning. And if you really love it, you Forrest Gump it. Just when you think you’ve arrived, you turn around and start running back the other direction. Just so you can get a look at the opposite side. While a Bob Seger song plays in the background.

But y’know, I recommend not growing the beard.

Still, even though I know there are many more miles to go and even 8 years in, this journey is really just getting started for us & photography….there are a few things that we’ve picked up along the way. Things that if I could, I would go back and put in a letter to the first year of shooting weddings me. The me who had no idea about aperture and shutter speed and ISO (funny enough, they don’t teach that in law school). The me who thought the “Exposure Triangle” was a new gameshow that just started on NBC. Hosted by Howie Mandel. The me who was still just trying to figure out where the road even was. Let alone whether or not she had it in her to run.

Yea, I would like to give that girl some Cliff’s Notes.

Dear Boo (I think I would call myself Boo),

A lot of this won’t make sense yet, but you just gotta trust me on this. Kind of like Bill & Ted and their excellent adventure. But without the phone booth. And George Carlin. And all of the causality problems.

Here are some things you’re GOING to want to know about weddings:

1. You will be served some shockingly bad things in some shockingly bad seating conditions (like that one time you’re given actual fried spam for dinner and are asked to stand INSIDE an unfinished wall with open electrical wires to eat it). Always, always, always pack apples and protein bars.
2. Let’s just get this one out of the way now. Holding your camera at a crazy tilted angle does NOT make you artistic. Please stop doing that. You’ll regret it later.
3. While we’re at it, trying a totally different action at 100% on each image in a blog post also doesn’t make you look artistic either. It makes you look like you don’t know who you are. Which I guess is part of the process, because right now….you don’t yet. But don’t worry too much about it, someday you will.
4. Now this is a biggie. Those stunning bangle bracelets at your first Indian wedding? Yea, they go in a specific order. Don’t mess that up.
5. This is another biggie. Try to remember that the mom’s of the brides have also been looking forward to this day for the past 27 years. It’s an emotional day. Don’t forget to take care of them too.
6. Start this early. Try to train yourself to never get so caught up in what you have to get done and the way you like to do things that you miss real life unfolding right in front of you. It’s way more beautiful that some shoes on a chair.
7. Learning to shoot manually is a great, important skill. You should know your camera inside out. That being said, there will come a time in the industry when people try to make “shooting manually” the pinnacle of what it is to be a professional. Trust me on this, there are far, far, far more important things (like developing a lifelong love affair with light, cultivating an instinct for anticipating moments, and pursuing simplicity of background) you will need to push yourself on to make yourself the photographer you want to be. Because the truth is, it’s really hard to be a storyteller if all you’re ever doing is looking down at your camera.
8. You are going to put the dress, shoes, rings, and pretty much anything else they’ll give you in some CRAZY locations. Do yourself a favor: if you can’t tell a logical story for how those things might have ended up where you put them without you being there, then mayyyyyybe don’t put them there. Authenticity, simplicity & honesty are beautiful things.
9. When you’re posing people, figure out ways to add in movement to everything, even the still poses. And for the love of man, please stop having them do the “back to back” pose. Unless you happen to be photographing Kid N’ Play. Then I guess it’s ok.
10. And finally, STOP trying to be like everyone else. Just stop it. Take this deep breath with me and listen. Everything about your work and the way you see the world that’s different….well that’s the best thing that could have ever happened to you. And there’s a reason you were created that way. Stop tying yourself in knots trying to be not that. No, run with that. Do MORE of that. Make yourself known for that. Because when you’re not like anyone else, guess what. It means you’re not competing with anyone else either. And more importantly, it just might be that the world is waiting for your voice.

That’s all I have for now Boo. Except to say never stop running. And never, never, never give up.

Oh and listen to more Bob Seger. Because he’s just awesome.


And if you’re looking for some more advice on the wedding day, they have officially announced all the release dates for our new Profoto videos (whoop whoop!!!) You can see the full schedule of dates in the ad below, but a brand new one- The Girls Getting Ready- just came out today. So head on over HERE to watch it & to catch up on any that you may have missed so far! Happy Monday you guys!

  1. Brooke

    "Let’s just get this one out of the way now. Holding your camera at a crazy tilted angle does NOT make you artistic. Please stop doing that. You’ll regret it later."

    Hahahahaha I can so relate to this one!!! Thanks for sharing your motivation and honesty as always!

  2. Nicole

    I appreciate you writing number 10, it was very encouraging to me!! Such an important thing to remember, especially as I am starting out!!

  3. Ryan

    Dear Boo, thanks for the advice & the inspiration to keep on shooting!

  4. Evie Perez

    This is awesome! i was just on Profoto’s website this morning looking for your most recent video :)

  5. Maria

    Thank you for sharing. I have watched them all and learned so much.

    And, when did you switch to Canon?? :)

  6. MM

    We haven’t!!! They just didn’t have the trigger for the Nikon’s yet!

  7. Elizabeth

    Thank you for this!!! I really needed that last point. :)

  8. Rayna | Rayna McGinnis Photography

    So cute and so true. Four years in and I’ve realized some of these things, and I’m still working on a few. Glad to hear it from one of the best.

  9. René Tate

    Bob Segar and Sonny and Cher!

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