Friday, August 26, 2011


Finally the wedding we have been planning to shoot this summer.  Tina and Manuel's event was simply a warm up, this was the big one!  Heidi and I again approached the event as professionally as we could.

We started by meeting the couple several times, getting to know them, understanding what they expected from us and how the day would progress.  A key discussion early on was to understand what they wanted from the final product, the wedding album.  The reason they employed us for the day was that Heidi shot the wedding of a close friend of theirs (the best man for this wedding).  I was meant to do it, but work commitments got in the way (it was a Friday), and subsequently Heidi received a crash course in 1. using an SLR, and 2. photographing a wedding.  She did extremely well and from the photographs I produced a Blurb book as a wedding gift for the couple:

They were very keen that we created something similar, in particular they liked the sequences of shots, 4 or 6 to a page and also wanted to retain the landscape format of the volume.  The reason this was very important prior to the even is that the final output heavily influences the way that we shoot the event.  If someone wants a very formal set of individual portraits I will concentrate of a specific type of framing, if they want sequences, then I must keep in mind that I need to shoot repetitively.  In fact the book starts to take on the look of a story board.  In this case the photographs must carry a narrative and present the day as it happened from beginning to end.

Technically we used pretty much the same approach and equipment as in July:

Tina & Manuel

The only change was the addition of a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens as there would be plenty of space to use it at the planned locations.  This was going to be a complicated day as we had 8 different locations at which to shoot:

  1. Couples Apartment - Bride getting ready (Heidi)
  2. Grooms Parents House - Groom Getting Ready (Shaun)
  3. Standesampt - Civil Wedding
  4. Grooms Parents House - First Reception for close family
  5. Nymphenburg Palace - Formal shots of Bride and Groom
  6. Botanikum: Wedding Chapel - For the "religious" wedding
  7. Botanikum: Grounds - Guest Shots (Couple asked for a formal portrait of each couple attending - 36 photographs in all)
  8. Botanikum: Dining Room - Speeches, Cake, and First Dance
Logistically this was a challenge as we needed different kit at each location, item 7 needed off camera flash in a soft box.  We took our car and ended up ferrying the bride and groom around with us.  

In the end we shot 2,400 frames between us which I whittled down to around 500 to put on a DVD and 300 that went into the wedding album.  Planning took about 4 hours, the wedding 12, and post processing 16, a total of 32 hours work for me and 16 for my wife.  Heidi also shot video and is probably looking at a good days work to edit and compile.  So in total I would estimate a commitment of around 55-60 hours work for a single wedding.  Considering that we did not charge, I think this was a good deal:)

In fact I am happy to do this for free, I am building experience and a portfolio, at the same time generating good will and putting myself on the grape vine, should I ever need to earn money from this.

As to the final outcome, well here is the book:

By Shaun Clarke

The couple have seen the online version and the email I received suggests that we hit the spot.

I am not going to comment on individual shots, as this is not a wedding blog, but here are a few:

So what did I learn from this experience, technically not a lot, I had different challenges, the 34 degree heat was one, but nothing that was greatly different than I have experienced before.  What was different was the amount of planning and the fact that we planned the day and shot the plan, without careful up front planning and substantial dialog with the couple success would have been much harder.  Photographic skills are important, however, planning is equally important for a long shoot such as this.  What I need to do now is refine my business plan, I cannot keep doing 40 hour jobs for free, even if I really enjoy it and get a lot from it.  At some point learning must end, and earning must begin.

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