Let me just start out by saying I know how crazy the title sounds. Try actually doing it. In short, it was a full-on learning experience that I don't plan on redoing anytime soon.
To begin, I was talking to my old coworker months before her wedding and she said that she was trying to find a photographer and wondered if I knew anybody. I without even thinking it through told her I could not only do it but do it without pay and for the experience. She ensured that I would be compensated in some way for my work and then she told me the date of the wedding. I was shocked, to say the least. She asked why I reacted so and I told her it was my birthday. She tried asking if I was sure that I wanted to spend my birthday doing that, and I assured her that I could easily go out the night before or later the same day. In my head, I was so sure that I was in no way going to let this opportunity pass.
The months passed and as the wedding grew nearer I took the time to meet with the bride and figure out which photos I should take for the wedding, before the service, family and everything in between. I should mention that the semester before I photographed the wedding I took a photojournalism class, so I was honing my photography skills before the big day making sure I was equipped with the basic necessities to get me through the day. I had my list of photos to take, I charged my battery and had two SD cards and was ready to go. Or so I thought I was.
Two days before I came up with the idea to make a cut-out frame for people to take selfies with that had the wedding date and the couples personal hashtag on it to be used at the reception. It was a surprise for the happy couple, that they loved by the way. Once I had that done, had my supplies ready, figured out the locations, yes there were multiple locations, and then I was off.
The first stop was photographing the bridal party getting ready. On my way to the hotel, I got my free Starbucks beverage and made sure I got a large one to last me throughout the day. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just let my creative mind take over and just began shooting. I made sure my settings matched the lighting and just shot anything and everything that I found interesting or was a good angle. It seemed like everyone that was there was more concerned that I was doing this on my birthday than I was. By that time I had made plans to go out with a friend later that night so I wasn't bummed in any way that I was doing it on my birthday. My only worry was that I would be too tired to go out later that night and need to reschedule. Otherwise, I was doing what I love most: taking pictures.
The next stop was at a park to do the dress reveal and full bridal party photographs. The bridal party took a bit longer than expected to get ready so we had to rush to the park and meet up with the groom and best man who was waiting for us. I ran over, introduced myself and took some beginner photos before the bride made her way over. I can honestly say, photographing between noon to 2 pm is one of the hardest things to do. The sunlight during that time drowns out and overpowers any photo that you take. I tried my best to make my settings fit the time of day, but ultimately I just had to take the nice photo and know that I was going to do some photoshop later.
Next was the actual service. Thankfully it was a small venue and a small wedding overall. That being said, I turned into a ninja during the service making sure I was getting all the good angles for each moment that was taking place. I have seen so many different wedding shots (because everyone and their mother from high school got married last year) and knew the ones I wanted to take and try and capture. But at the end of the day, I knew that if I didn't get a good shot of the first kiss, all my hard work would be for not. I actually almost missed the kiss. I was moving from the side of the church to the aisle trying not to obscure anyone's view, but when I heard the pastor getting close, I just booked it and made my way to the aisle and squat down. I got the right shot and was so proud of myself, but now I had to get out of the way because the couple was about to start walking right towards me.
After the service, we had family pictures. I now have sympathy for whoever needs to take a photo with more than ten people in it. Trying to make sure the small families are all together, everyone is looking at you, and smiling is so hard. Especially when you have to take multiple shots to make sure that you get a good one. The more shots you take the more the group of people gets bored and wants to be done with the whole thing just as much as you do. That was easily the most stressful part of the whole day.
The reception was so much fun. All the dancing, the families and friends mingling and all just having a good time. Thank goodness I brought my battery charger with me. I lost charge two songs before the father-daughter dance with the groom and his new daughter. I ran to charge it and ended up taking photos on my phone for ten minutes while it charged. Then I was ready to go and shoot the rest of the night. Also after I think it was the mother and the groom dance when my first SD card became full so I had to run and swap it with my other one.
All in all, it was the learning experience that I needed. I learned time management, planning ahead, and how to stay calm in some stressful situations. I don't plan on shooting another wedding anytime soon, but I wouldn't be opposed to doing it sometime in the future.