Saturday, March 14, 2009

No, You Lock it Up

I figure one of the best ways to learn how to do something is to observe an expert. I contacted a friend who is the music director for a local church, told her about my business, and asked her about their wedding schedule. She gave me a few dates and wished me luck. I took that as an invitation of sorts. So my business partner and I crashed a wedding last weekend. We are very familiar with the church; it was where our small high school had assemblies and ceremonies. When we arrived at the wedding, we went directly to the choir loft. From there we could watch almost everything.

The wedding was covered by a team of three photographers. One stayed in the left front of the church, one positioned herself on the right front, and the third covered the back of the church. To some degree, they each moved around to adapt to the ceremony. But with three, the need to move was minimal. A few observations of this team:

  • One of the team had their shutter on a high fps setting. It was clearly audible from up in the loft when she shot. This seemed to be an unnecessary distraction; she ended up with a dozen copies of exactly the same thing each time she shot.
  • All three used flash through the processional, but stopped when the ceremony started. The congregation, however, used flash constantly throughout the event. Since the congregation doesn't have to worry about being allowed back, but the photographers do, this wasn't surprising.
  • The first shooter missed the couple's first kiss completely. She had turned around and was doing something with her camera equipment when the kiss happened. By the time she was able to get back in the game, the kiss was over. The second shooter caught the kiss (on the high fps setting).
  • From the loft we could several opportunities for fun photographs within the congregation. The photographers caught some of those moments but generally spent almost no time on anything other than the wedding party.
  • All three used an external battery pack for their flash units. At certain times, such as the procession, the fast cycle time seemed to be critical.
  • The post-ceremony session was a bit chaotic. Several of the shots required the photographers to pose more than 30 people. In trying to arrange these shots, the first focused on her camera, the second stood off to the side and watched, and the third stood behind the first and told people where to move. Seems like there is a better way.
  • During the post-ceremony shoot, the only lighting used as an on-camera flash. The third had a small spot, but never used it. Probably best she didn't. I'm thinking, though, that the shots must have needed quite a bit of touch-up to correct the washout. No remedy for the loss of detail form the flat lighting though.
  • The bride became overheated during the post-ceremony shots, and had to step outside for some air. She came back in for a few more shots, but she didn't last long before she called a halt.
Watching this team photograph the wedding was very instructive. We learned a lot, finding things we want to emulate, and things we want to avoid. We're planning to crash another wedding in a few weeks. The contrast between the two may be even more enlightening.

Hey Mom! Can we get some meatloaf?

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