9.29.2010

What do commercial photographers do when they go to family weddings?


My niece got married to a really nice guy last weekend.  Do I think the whole marriage thing will work out for them?  Well, yes.  They're both sweet, practical and they like each other very much.  They threw a really nice wedding with a tasteful and happy reception.  They did so many things right that it didn't surprise me when they didn't ask me to do the wedding photographs.  They both work in the ad business and they seem to know that there's a difference between species of photographers.

My niece asked my advice and then selected a San Antonio wedding photographer.  And judging by his unflappable attitude and his assured camera work, not to mention taking great advantage of the really nice available light,  I think he and his second shooter did a hell of a job.  


If you've read my blog before you know that I take a camera with me everywhere.  If I were on the edge of death and rushing to the emergency room a priority question would always be, "Leica M with film? or Canon 5d2 for low light?"  So, of course I dragged my camera with me.  I did make it a point to stay far from the real working professional.  I didn't bring a flash.  And I mostly kept a "nifty fifty" (the Canon 50mm 1.8) glued to my camera at all times.

I did the obligatory grown up wedding things.  I made sure my kid had his suit on straight and his tie tied.  I made small talk with the relatives and relations.  I congratulated the couple and the families with great sincerity.  I smiled lovingly at my wife.  It limited my Champagne consumption and didn't dance on the tables.  But there was still a lot of dead time to fill.

So I kept my camera with me and tried to shoot some "in between" moments.  I always enjoy the "media press" at social functions so I tried to get some of that........


And, of course I needed a shot of the real photographer and his second shooter directing the group shots.  But I stayed pretty far back and didn't try to scalp any of his or her set up shots.  I figured that they were doing the hard work they should reap the rewards.  No outrageous gear on display.  Just Nikon 700D's and the requisite 24-70 and 70-200's.  Little SB-600's in the shoes but not used very often.  These guys were good and it's obvious that they had a well oiled mental checklist working in their heads.  Just enough direction to pull everyone together and make great shots, not so much direction that they got in the way of the socializing.....A real photographer makes it a real event.


I took a lot of photos of my kid, Ben because he wasn't on the other photographer's radar even though he grew up with his cousin and they are pretty close.  Ben is very patient with me but he quickly gets tired of the "paparazzi" treatment.  I couldn't help it.  I thought his suit looked cool....(24-105mm Canon 5d2)


And I wanted to put the "bokeh" of the 24-105mm zoom to the test so I had to grab a few shots of Ben with the bride's-brother's-girlfriend out of focus behind him.  Looks  pretty okeh-bokeh to me....


But then I felt a little guilty using my niece's wedding as a lens testing laboratory so I took a shot of my nephew's girlfriend as the primary subject instead of the "bokeh baseline target".    And I've decided that anyone who doesn't like the 24-105mm is pretty daft.  It's a good lens.  Pretty sharp wide open and the IS is really good.  Specially if you're going for the available light thing.


This niece is from my wife's side of the family so my wife decamped from Austin and headed to Comfort, Texas the day before to help get everything ready and to visit with family coming in from all over the place.  Ben and I were more economical with our time.  We dropped the dog off at the lux kennel and headed out in the mid-afternoon on Saturday.  Comfort is a two hour drive down some bouncy country roads so I put in a little extra time for surprises in the low water crossings.  Ben read novels on my Kindle.  (We both have found that one can read faster on a Kindle......burning through books....).

Around 10 pm, after dinner, the cake cutting, and toasting, and the inception of the dancing, Ben came over and asked the  "14 year old" question:  "How long do we have to stay to be polite?"  We were back on the road and back in our Austin house by midnight.

I'm anxious to see the professional photos.  There was so much fun stuff to shoot.  It was hard keeping my camera on the strap and out of my hand.  But I figure that if you hate having folks leaning over your shoulder.......you better do things the way you want your karma to flow.

18 comments:

Robert said...

Ive heard of couples hiring a formal photographer and a snapshot photographer, I'm sure your going to share so it looks like the y will have some nice snapshots. I would never shoot a wedding, so I would always be dressed appropriately when I went to one. what are your thoughts on the dress code for the photographer? I would be OK with them dressing like that at my wedding, but some people would find them under dressed.

kirk tuck said...

Hey Robert. I think that photographers should dress the way the wedding couple wants them to. I have a few friends who shoot lots of weddings and they always ask while doing the contracts and stuff. An outdoor wedding in Texas is a tough place to be in a coat and tie but if it was a formal wedding in a very upscale venue I think a suit would be appropriate.

I usually wear a suit because I'm usually doing corporate gigs where everyone else is in a suit. And they are rarely outside.

I'm not sharing my photos with these kids. We got them a wedding present already... :-) (for the humorless: the last comment should be construed as a joke. In all probability I will give them whatever images they might like. After the professional photographer has transacted with them. And I'm so backed up with projects it'll likely be next year before I'm ready with anything).

Anonymous said...

In the fifth photo down, Ben looks like a 1960's secret agent. All he needs is the earpiece and some Rayban's.

-Ian Fleming

David Ingram said...

Hi Kirk, fun post. Thinking of a medium range zoom for 5DMII. Thoughts re: 24-70 2.8 or 24-105?

kirk tuck said...

I voted by 24-105 because it's only one stop and the new cameras do such great high ISO. I love the IS.

David Ingram said...

Makes sense. Thanks!

Jet Tilton Photography said...

Any ideas on a small camera/bag combo that can taken at all times? My Canon Xsi is a tad too big for "everywhere I go," any thoughts?

kirk tuck said...

You don't want my advice on bags. I've got thirty or forty of them and none of them are good for everything....

andrew said...

I've shot quite a few weddings as the "friend-who-does-this-for-fun" snapshot photographer. Definitely agree that it's the most fun when you capture the media press and everything that happens in the middle.

Nice shots, Kirk!

mike murrow said...

As a wedding photographer I just want to say... thanks for respecting the hired pro. It can get really tough when every Uncle Bob (or Kirk) shows up with their gear and gets in the way.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Kirk! Congrats to your niece. I got married back in June, and our search for a wedding photographer was difficult, but she did an amazing job. My husband joked a lot before the wedding that he'd have to pry my camera out of my hands before the wedding.

- Elizabeth Councill

Paul Dymond said...

Is it just me or is the lady in the foreground of the image of Ben one of the models from Minimalist Lighting? The picture illustrating using flashes in the rain.

kirk tuck said...

Mike, Last thing I wanted to do was compete with the hired photographer. He was doing a great job and I didn't see how shooting over his shoulder would add anything to the pot.... I'd hate to have someone come to one of my advertising shoots and snipe away at my set ups....

Paul, Good eyes. that is one of the people from my book. And that's the section as well. Thanks for mentioning it.

Glenn Harris said...

A very enjoyable post, as they all are. It isn't easy being a photographers kid.

Jet Tilton Photography said...

Kirk,
could you recommend a small camera that could be taken everywhere, since you take a camera with you everywhere, my Canon Xsi is small but not small enough!
Jet

atmtx said...

Kirk, your son looks very dashing in his suit. My boy (age 11) is desperate to dress up in something fancy. He is going to his first wedding in a month. He is getting his chance to dress up, though it may be a jacket and dress pants instead of a suit.

I will also have to make sure I don't get carried away in my photography. I like your comments about staying out of the way of official photographers.

Thanks.

Andy

kirk tuck said...

Jet, The Xsi is tiny. Just put a smaller lens on it. If not you might want to start looking at something like the Canon G12 or the Panasonic LX3 replacement.

kirk tuck said...

Andy,

It's an impulse I always have to fight. I like being in charge. I'm used to ordering people around on shoots and I have cool cameras. On the other hand, my niece spent a lot of time hand picking her photographer and she's pretty smart so I have to figure that's what she wants. If I get in the way I'm just screwing up the program. And in the end.....I'd rather have a few nice shots of my wife and Ben and spend the rest of my time watching all the craziness that is at every event.