My Love/Hate Relationship with Wedding Photography

by Lucas Westcoat January. 06, 2017 1939 views

When I started taking pictures, it was a creative endeavor. It's something that allows me to slip in to an alternate reality void of time. My first pictures were taken while walking around familiar places and through the viewfinder of my camera I'd see and appreciate details that had escaped me before. When I was done, hours had disappeared.

It's true that time does fly when you're having fun. I doubt I would have experienced this euphoria if I had been relying on my pictures to feed myself. The same is true if my photos were a high-stakes session with people depending on me to capture something that may never occur outside of this day long series of critical and quickly fleeting moments.

Weddings are high-stake sessions, let's be clear.

A bride and her groom at their outdoor ceremony/reception in Washington State

I admire amazing wedding photography. I believe it takes a special kind of person to excel at it. From my favorite wedding photographers, I see incredibly creative shots. As someone that has been tasked with capturing weddings, I have a firm understanding of the competing interests and demands that can easily smother creative desire and put you in a checklist mindset. 

Did you get the bouquet? 

Check.

Did you get the back of her dress?

Check.

Don't forget the rings arranged on a table with other details of the day!

Check.

It's critical that you fight this tendency. If you don't, the result will not reflect what you're capable of doing, artistically. I'll admit, the time and patience for experimentation is small at weddings (you ARE charging by the hour). You almost have to show up with a vision and have unbelievable confidence in its success. Personally, The moment I think I'm in the groove and have the right settings, vantage point, lens, etc. the ceremony is over and it's time for what has to be the worst moment for the photographer.... group photos.

The bride and her bridesmaids at a winery in Woodinville, WA

The wedding party in downtown Seattle

The process of group photos always takes too long. There's almost always a combination of people that's missed. If you take ten shots of one group, eight will have at least one person blinking. In just about all of them, one of the family members (usually the mother of the bride(s) or mother of the groom(s)) will have their phone or a point and shoot camera in hand and think you can remove it with ease in photoshop "along with their wrinkles...wink." Every time I hear myself say "here we go! three, two, one, (click)" I think about why I started taking pictures and how this is the farthest thing from it. Fortunately and contrary to how it might seem, it doesn't last forever. Just beyond the obligatory family and wedding party photos is the timeframe where I'm most likely to take my favorite shots. When I steal the bride and groom away for a brief, yet fruitful session with just the two of them. No interruptions.

The newlyweds sneaking a kiss just before cutting their wedding cake

these newlyweds were married on the water just north of Seattle

In West Seattle looking across Elliot Bay at the city and the Space Needle

quick portrait session with the bride before we raced off to the ceremony

Wedding photography is intense, exhausting, demanding, and at times you can feel like there's little room to take a breath and get creative. However, in the midst of all these challenges and checklist photos, there are always a handful that I'm particularly proud of and they're made sweeter because of the challenges involved. For those of you that dabble in wedding photography, I challenge you to push for those photos that will stand out. You won't regret the effort.

I'll do two weddings a year... max. :)

To check out more of my wedding photography and other photos of people, places and things, visit www.elldubphoto.com


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