It's A Man's Life In The Regular Wedding Regiment
Of course the professional photographers need no advice on how to do weddings - which is why you see them at wedding seminars and trade presentations...they attend so that they do not have to take advice. They also attend to spy out their competition and to try to pinch clients - totally legitimate business behaviour, of course. A few have been known to attend just for the morning coffee and biscuits.
The amateur also needs no instuctions. They have a camera and there is the bride and groom and what more do you need to know. Which button do you press to get the lens to open, again?
It is the semi-pro...or should that be the demi-amateur...that needs to know the secrets of the trade. Herewith listed. If you are not the person to whom this is addressed don't breathe a word of it.
1. The Trade is a trade. You trade your time and effort for money. Not "something for your film". Not " I'll see you right". Not "Maaaaate...". If you would not do something in a dark corner with your trousers off for $ 200, don't do it at a wedding for that price.
2. The Bride is the salad. Everyone else, including yourself, is dressing.
3. The Groom wants a drink. At some stage of the proceedings he will find one. If you want him in focus, take your pictures prior to this point.
4. Your camera is good enough. So good, in fact, that you need another one just the same in your bag. It must be ready to go with the same settings as your first camera and when you need it you just fish it out and carry on shooting. Do not use a different format or recording medium - embark one squadron and use it well...
5. Use flash. Bugger the character out in the dirty little church that forbids it. The Bride needs it and that is all there is to it. Sic the Bride's Mother on him and watch him change his tune.
6. Use flash outside. Western Australia is sun-lit and unless you are photographing pandas or neanderthals, try to avoid eyebrow shadows.
7. Get in close. If you want to photograph what happens, you have to see what happens. If you want to stand off half a mile and snipe at them use a .50 Barrett, not a Nikon.
8. Let all the other relatives take as many pictures as they want. Someone will get one you missed and this eases the Bride's wrath.
9. Quit before they do. Most Brides bop on until 12:00. Escape at 10:00 - you'll be so grateful you did. The last two hours of a wet mess wedding are woeful and the last two hours of a teetotal one are worse.
10. Tell the married couple how much the total bill is before you deliver the photos - give them time to empty their pockets and scrabble around the back of the couch for change. Remember that most newly-weds are so deep in debt as to make them look like the American Congress, and you can be waiting for a payment for aeons - as will their creditors...