Even the best job in the World can get stressful. Think of the consequences of messing up……an empty picture frame where the first kiss should be (with nothing but Uncle Bob’s drunken iphone offering from the back of the church to cheer up the bride). Or a facebook album with half a dozen out-of-focus bridesmaids line dancing because the photographer dropped his SD card in a glass of bubbly. You could be late (traffic), or missing (bad clams in the hotel) or distracted by what happened in Eastenders on Thursday night (did you hear what happened to Dot? Shocking…).
There’s a big list of things you have to get right, starting with turning up on time and ending in a delivery of in-focus, appropriately timed shots. Artistic interpretation is a luxury you get from everything else being okay. Obviously preparation is key: checklists of all the photography equipment (cameras, lenses, tripods, lights, lots of SD cards, spare everything), a comprehensive list of shots, lists of which lists to bring. You need umbrellas if it’s raining (yes it does rain in Portugal. A lot!) or parasols (if it’s sunny), the right shoes (for any eventuality), an emergency sewing kit, a torch, tasty (yet healthy and nutritious) snacks, bottles of water, maps (getting lost is very easy here) and a cuddly toy. Did I pack the fondue set?
More important is making contact with the bride and groom. Preparing them for you being in their faces all day whilst waggling large pieces of Japanese camera gear. They need to accept you, almost ignore you at times. For several parts of the day you need to become quite invisible. But for the rest of the time you are ‘on’. You are engaged and interactive and involved. But you have to keep taking pictures, that camera has to be firing away – even if there’s a tear welling up in one eye and it smudges the viewfinder on your Pentax. You have to be checking ISO settings and light levels even though Aunty Maud is telling you about her upcoming hip replacement operation. You cannot rest for a moment (apart from that well-deserved and well timed break).
Don’t get me wrong – I love the ‘stress’. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It keeps it exciting and fun. Every wedding is different and amazing and brings a whole new set of problems to solve and lists to write. I do like a good list – did I mention that?
Anyway, spare a thought for your photographer. He (or she) is having a long day too. Maybe they would like a glass of water, a small cucumber sandwich or even a hug…