Doing What You Don’t Want To Do…

I have never really had much of an interest in wedding photography – there is just far too much relying on skill, luck, timing and equipment. Not to mention – the thought of having to attend weddings for people I don’t know on even a semi-irregular basis frightens me. I was recently proposed an opportunity to photograph a friend’s wedding in Portland in a totally informal way. The expectations were not set high, but I figured it would be a good way to dip into the “field” of wedding photography with no pressure and total freedom to do whatever I want. I decided I’d give it a shot and brought my Sigma f2.8 70-200mm and my Sigma f2.8 24-70mm with my flash and Gary Fong diffuser.

The conditions were just horrible – I arrived later than desired and went to the wrong building…consequently, I arrived just barely in time to unpack my gear. Something’s gone awry with the air conditioner and it’s about 104 degrees outside – oh yeah, we’re on the 3rd floor of a 3 story building – probably a healthy 90 degrees inside. There’s about 80 people, children are running everywhere. Immediately I notice the super dim lighting provided by small lamps and Christmas lights and I remember to be thankful for the wisdom of the people who preach saving to get better glass. I can hardly squeeze my large f2.8 24-70mm Sigma lens through the tight maze of people. The whole thing was just a touch insane for photography. I was bound and determined to have fun and at least give it a shot.

Due to lack of preparation, I forgot to take off my circular polarizer – I probably lost 2 stops for the entire ceremony and 15 minutes of the reception. That’s what I get for being a part time, multi-subject photographer with a busy lifestyle. Once I removed the polarizer and got my diffuser from the truck, I was in much better shape.

Fortunately I had brought my Sigma 70-200mm – positioning in the area of the ceremony was less than ideal due to the number of people in the room – the lens allowed me to get right up on the action without getting in everyone’s way. It also allowed to me to get up close when the rings were exchanged and quickly back out to get the reaction and “overall” view. I would have appreciated a better flash for the recharge times. Though my flash did a good job – a higher power unit would have made a difference.

For the reception, in the same location as the ceremony, I switched to my 24-70. As I wandered about the crowd, I snapped photos of the many people conversing, congratulating, hugging and various things that people do at a wedding. This made up the bulk of my overall 400 photos taken during the wedding.

I do have to say…under the circumstances, I got some incredible images. I can think of at least 3 images that are a hairline shy of perfect, in my self-critical opinion. The kids were a lot of fun to photograph with all their energy. There were challenges, mistakes and a whole lot of learning that took place. Overall, I’d say it was a good experience. I’m still reluctant to furthering an interest in wedding photography – but I think I’d do it again.

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