A Day in the Life ~ Wisconsin Wedding Photographer
Welp, Wedding Season 2015 is nearly upon us, friends. Soon your Facebook feed will be peppered with the best of our best efforts….each posting screaming, subliminally, LIKE ME….FRIEND ME…HIRE ME! Shameless self-promotion, oh we’ve got it!
We will introduce you to our lovely couples, showing you fancy shots of all of their carefully planned tidbits. We will drag our butts to our computers at all ungodly hours of the day to post previews and wax nostalgic about our latest shoot.
Ah yes, wedding season. The big show.
What you may not realize, however, is all the hustle, bustle, sweat, sometimes tears…..that goes into your average wedding day from the photographer’s perspective. It’s like a duck on the water…..all calm and serene on the surface…padding like a crazy person underneath.
So, I thought it would be fun to kick off the upcoming season with a bit of a “behind the scenes” look at an average “Day in the Life of a Wedding Photographer”
Disclaimer: This is not describing an ACTUAL wedding, just a generic “wedding” being used as an example : )
FRIDAY (night before)
Husband: Don’t you have a wedding tomorrow?
Husband: Is all your stuff ready?
Me: Yeah…..I’ll get to it….just after I see the end of this Supernatural….
Cursing the fact that none of my batteries have charged themselves….I’m putting all of my stuff in some semblance of organized order for the next day’s festivities.
SATURDAY (The Big Day)
We call this “sleeping in”….if Kidlet #1 decides she’s going to bestow a few precious moments of sleep on her poor mommy and daddy. More often than not, however, she’s climbing into our bed with an armful of plastic, pointy toys. I’m up…..I’m up.
Shower, mentally go over my “Inspiration” Pinterest list in my head. Try to remember to mix it up on the posing front today and try out that new lighting idea I had.
Why am I bothering to do my hair? I’m bound to look like a sweaty miner by noon. Ponytail it is.
Makeup. A necessity. Without it, I look like I brought the Plague to my client’s big day.
Gee…..what black pants/black shirt/black shoes combo should I wear THIS week?
Settle for the one I can get buttoned (off season = 10 extra pounds) and head downstairs.
Breakfast. Must stock up. Lord knows when you’ll get to eat again today. So….I DEMAND ALL THE WAFFLES.
The OCD kicks in and I have to check, recheck, check again that I do, indeed, have ALL of my sync cords, Pocket Wizards, batteries, CF cards, and the info list from the couple. I will do this little checking dance about 10 more times before I actually leave…..and it’s pretty much a given I will forget SOMETHING and have to turn around at the end of my street and come back and get it. Usually it’s my phone.
I’m off. First stop (after the inevitable gas-up) is Starbucks. Grande Mocha with Whip. Whatever my second shooter wants…..This is a necessity. Almost as much as the cameras (Crap….I remembered my cameras, right??…..Pull over before I get on the freeway to double check)
Typically I’m off to Milwaukee….or Madison…..or Chicago. I’ve driven back to Milwaukee so many times I can pretty much space out most of the way there and write blogs in my head as I drive….or sing show tunes, whatever is tripping my trigger that particular day. Probably why I collect speeding tickets like some people collect postage stamps……
Pull over to a gas station. Pick up gum and a few snacks. Note to photographers, buy gum. You’re gonna want gum. Mints. Something.
Arrive at Our Lady of Perpetual Weddings (Note: Not a real church). Load my stuff up in my arms and try my best to carry my Pelican, umbrella, Alien Bee on a stick, and soft box into the church. Run into church lady who asks if I’m the photographer. Stop myself from saying “No, I’m the florist”
Introduce myself to church lady. Church lady lets me know that most photographers are like bratty little unkempt children and therefore I have rules I must abide by because some photographer LONG ago decided to climb on the altar and hang from the crucifix to get his shot. Typically I’m already aware of this and I nod and smile. Make it my secret mission to get church lady to eventually love me. Promise whole-heartedly not to leave the back of the church or touch their antique organ.
Bride and her entourage arrive at the church and huddle away in the teeny tiny bridal room, which doubles as the daycare center for the church during the week. Try to avoid getting the big clown painted on the wall in the shot with the bride being veiled.
Decide the clown may be kind of funny and include it in one shot anyway.
Remind all bridesmaids to eat something and get their ponytail holders off their wrists (PET PEEVE, TAKE NOTE). Head off to meet with the dudes.
Dudes are not dressed. Dudes are sitting around doing not much of anything. Fake a few “Dudes getting ready” shots and head back over to the girls. Note: Dude shots typically take about 15 minutes. Tops. Maybe.
Exception: If the guys are deciding to make a Top 10 list of sandwiches on the dressing room chalkboard. You stick around. Because that’s funny. Yes, this happened.
Dad sees bride for the first time. Tears all around. Good moment.
Grandma sees bride for the first time. Excuse myself to the bathroom to have a bit of a sniffle over that one. Darn weddings and their feels.
Priest stops me as I’m hiding my bags to reiterate what church lady has said about moving, breathing, or even thinking about lighting anything. Nod and smile. Nod and smile. Make mental note to take Communion and smile again to get in Father’s good graces. YOU WILL LOVE ME, CHURCH PEOPLE!
People are getting seated. Keep an eagle eye out for potentially troublesome Uncle Bob’s. There’s always one. You can tell because they bring in more equipment to the church than you did.
Spot Uncle Bob, affixing his 70-200 and positioning himself at the top of the aisle. Um…yeah. Sorry Bobbo……imma let you finish but…..I’m gonna need to stand here….just for a second. Flash Bobbo your best smile. Bobbo asks what you’re shooting.
KICKOFF! Adrenaline kicks in as the bridesmaids book it down the aisle at mach-10. BAM BAM BAM! Fire off shots of each gal in mid-stride….position yourself for the main entrance of the bride. Bride enters….everyone stands up and sticks their cellphones out into the aisle for their own shot. Bob and weave like a crafty honey badger to get “THE SHOT”.
Book it to the back of the church, avoid the ire of the church lady.
Mass is over, you may go in Peace.
Kiss kiss kiss…..and follow the happy couple with my lens as they exit the church. Pray hard to the Patron Saint of Church Formals that they’ve decided against a receiving line. (Why? Because those suckers take FO-EVAH and eat up all of your formal portrait time….among other reasons. Just go with me on this one)
Get reminder from church lady (who is totally taking a liking to me, I can tell) that we need to get our butts out of there in the next 30 minutes.
Hustle to arrange family formals.
Family formals are going swimmingly. Set up very large umbrella. Uncle Bobbo looks none to pleased with very large umbrella. Hence reason for very large umbrella. Sorry Uncle Bobbo, see you at the reception.
Head off to bridal party pictures. Position myself on Party Bus or follow party bus. Don’t have a preference really, unless the participants of party bus fun have questionable music taste.
Bridal Party Picture Location #1…..very popular place. Notice 2 other shooters with their bridal parties.
Do I know these people? If I don’t know them, who are they? Dang, there’s a lot of photographers out there. How come I don’t know them? Where have they been hiding?
If I do know them “Hey! What’s up! I know you! Funny to see you out in the wild!”
Stage West Side Story type gang-fight pictures between rival bridal parties. Good times.
Bridal Party Picture Location #2 – Bridal party has been partaking in the bus bubbly. Better make this one quick.
Ya know what, on second thought, why don’t we just do the bride and groom here. Everyone else back on the bus. Hang out. Have fun. Don’t throw up.
Park Ranger comes over and does his Park Ranger thing. Of COURSE I have a permit, Park Ranger….lemme just go get that out of my car.
Scarf previously acquired gas station snack.
Not really doin’ it’s job but hey, whatever. The bridal party got Jimmy John’s.
Get to the reception. Boogie inside super-fast to hide my stuff by the DJ booth, say ” ‘ Ello” to the DJ, and get in gear for the Grand March.
Realize the bridal party isn’t even CLOSE to being ready to do the Grand March and decide it’s safe for me to use the bathroom.
Realize while I’m IN the bathroom they suddenly got themselves organized and book it out of the bathroom to grab my camera and get the shots.
Aunt of the Groom pulls me aside to ask me to take a picture of their family MID-Grand March.
Send 2nd shooter to help out Auntie and follow the bride and groom to their table Mid- March because I know what’s coming next.
“CLANG CLANG CLANG”
Ok, now I can finish hitting up the bathroom.
My God, why didn’t my Second Shooter TELL me I looked like this!??! Ugh….
Rearrange outfit and comb hair. Decide no one will notice that your makeup sweated off hours ago….hit the floor again.
Sometimes I have a seat….sometimes my seat is a dark corner of the reception hall where I crouch like Gollum and inhale my mashed potatoes (PRECIOUS) until someone does something photo-worthy. I never really have a preference, as long as potatoes are in the mix.
Potatoes make everything wonderful.
Dinner. This is downtime….as most folks don’t really care for pictures of themselves eating. Don’t blame em. Get Kiddie Cocktail from the bar. Enjoy immensely.
Head outside to check out the sky. If the sky is particularly awesome, fetch the bride and groom and promise to be quick. Shoot awesome sky/nightime shots.
DANCING! Best part of the night. Set up your light and get killer dance shots.
Open dancing kicks off and you get to be-bop around like a crazy person to “I’ve Gotta Feeling” or “Shout”. Bet your Second Shooter $20 that you can guess the next song on the DJ’s playlist. Collect $20.
Take a tour around the reception hall to capture the non-dancers. They matter too : )
Kiddie Cocktail #2
Text husband to see what he’s up to. Kids are being crazy. Wish him well, they’ll be in bed long before I get home.
Bounce around the dance floor a bit more.
Cupid Shuffle….Electric Slide….Cha Cha Slide…..Chicken Dance….polka…..
Let’s toss that bouquet, folks!
“All the Single Ladies” means I gotta get in position. PLEASE DJ, don’t make them all stand in a circle. PLEASE……FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND GOOD.
Garter removal…..I typically try to position myself in front of a kid….so, you know, they don’t have to witness the debauchery about to go down. : ) Doin’ the mom thing.
CAKE! Mmmmm…CAKE. And coffee….Cake and coffee are some of my greatest occupational perks.
Gotta see if there’s anything else the couple needs…..typically this means group shots. Get all the bride’s sorority sisters together in a bunch….shoot shoot shoot.
annnnd…..**drop the mic***….we’re out.
Stop for french fries and a Mountain Dew. Because after a wedding this is the food of the GODS.
10:30 – 11:00 PM
Depending on where I’ve been, get home and realize that being on my feet all day, and then sitting for 2 hours, has rendered my legs jelly-like.
Get inside. Husband is up watching American Restoration or How It’s Made or some equally boring man-show. Unload all the stuff, throw Intervention or Hoarders on the computer to watch as I back up.
Start backing up those files. Now, some folks sleep on them. I don’t. I can’t. If I don’t get my files backed up THAT NIGHT…..the world will surely end….or something. Terrible things will happen, I’m convinced. So, I get my jammies on and I start the back up process.
Back up process done. Takes so long because typically I get distracted by the internet and forget that I’m downloading.
BED. I have “All of Me” stuck in my head. Stupid Ear Worm. My lord….I’m sure it’ll be something else this season.
Next morning get startled awake by my kid standing at my bedside needing to use the potty. Head downstairs and start on the blog.
Blog and then NAP! (If I’m lucky!)
So there ya have it, folks…..glamorous, I know, ain’t it? But, this is the life of a wedding photographer. Sometimes it differs in hours, in place, in time, and in happenings…..but there’s no doubt that we all go out there and tackle our wedding days like a boss.
Here’s to a KILLER 2015 Wedding Season, Shooters!