It was the night before the big day… camera gear packed? Check. Print off wedding day details? Check. Binge watch videos on posing? Check. Pack newly purchased high end hangers to hang bridesmaid dresses and wedding dress? Check.
I was ready, I was going to conquer this quest before me. All my class training, all the books and blogs I’ve read, all the mining of social media feeds from other professional wedding photographers who have gone before me – it all comes down to this. MY FIRST.
As a new photographer, I both dreaded, but yet longed for the first. Dreaded because I’ve never photographed a wedding before, longed because I wanted to know what it was really like.
It’s everything everyone says it’s going to be and more.
For me, I feel I lucked out with my first. I landed the gig from a co-worker and friend whose daughter was getting married. Fortunately for me, I had built trust with this co-worker, so I was hired, not because I take amazing pictures (because let’s face it, this was my first real gig) but because I offered, basically for free ($100 to be totally transparent, which included the engagement session + bridal session), to do the job, and because she knew me as a person, having worked together for the past 2 years. I say this because it’s hard to get your first wedding photography job, like really hard, because I truly believe people select photographers not solely on their work, but who they are as people. And when you are starting out, nobody knows you! It would be interesting to find out of all the established wedding photographers out there, how many found their first opportunity to solo shoot via a friend, family member, or co-worker? In other words, someone they knew.
Anyhoo, all that to say I was really prepared. I also decided to ask a friend’s daughter, who expressed interest in photography, and currently taking photography classes in high school, to be my 2nd shooter and photographer’s assistant. HIGHLY recommended, by the way, so you are not out there alone. I could swear if it weren’t for her, 1) I wouldn’t have been so calm, 2) I wouldn’t have eaten, and 3) and I’m sure I would have forgotten my brain, or expensive gear, somewhere between the ceremony and reception! No joke.
Was it perfect? By no means. I had to pretend I knew what I was doing with my flash, I carried a cheat sheet of wedding portrait ideas in my back pocket, I forgot to take a picture of the bride and her mom alone (queue headshake and hand to forehead), and we had a flower girl melt-down… oh yeah, and I couldn’t walk the next day. But despite all that, I left fired up. I left knowing I gave it my all, and I left excited for the next.
Preparation was the key. Everything else, you can’t control, stuff will just happen and you have to learn to roll with it.
Also having a strong support system is everything. For me, I got into my car and found this sweet, uplifting, and encouraging note that my hubby left for me on my sun visor:
… and this my friend, is the same advice I would give to you… Be yourself, be confident, be smart!