Monday, July 18, 2011



Photographed my friends Robin & Colin’s wedding this weekend. It brings my grand total of weddings shot to a whopping four. 15 hours, 900+ photos. Stats on consumption of cigarettes and RedBull are yet to be tallied. Tales and photos after the jump…

More often than I have any right to expect, people ask me why I don’t shoot weddings. My response is always the same; it’s just too much like work. And I say that knowing that I’ve been lucky about the few (very few) that I have shot: they’ve all been for people who somehow managed to remain sane during the emotional gauntlet of a wedding day. I’ve never had to deal with a bridezilla or a Special Forces father or ax wielding wedding planner (tho I figure that sooner or later my luck is bound to run out). Point is there are just too many pit falls; too many things could just go wrong shooting weddings. On top of all that it’s a job with zero tolerance for failure; if the photog screws the pooch is not like you can ask to do the thing all over again.
So no, shooting weddings are not my speed. But when Robin all but demanded that I be the photographer for her special day (well, weekend, really), I wasn’t given much choice.
Warning: The next paragraph contains Camera-nerd content. Reader discretion is advised.
With due-respect to the bride, the real star of the show (for me, at least) was my newly purchased Vagabond Mini. I bought it specifically for this event, and so I’ve only had it a week; but man-oh-man is it ever a dream come true. Three and a half pounds vs. the 18 of the Vagabond II, but with all of the gusto you could hope for. Most of the formal shots were done outdoors, early afternoon July summer’s day. I was using my AB1600 cranked up between ½ and full-power for all of them. Three second recycle time, just as advertised. I donno how much of the full charge I ended up using (because I don’t typically carry a flux capacitor in my bag), but when we finally moved indoors it recharged in under two hours. The simple fact that I’m not visiting my chiropractor today is well worth the purchase price on this thing. Bottom line: get one.

I also need to point out that I had a huge amount of help from Michael Rubino. He was my Sherpa/second-shooter all day long, and none of this could have happened without his help. Hopefully he’ll post some of his pictures soon – which are fantastic. With luck he’ll give up photography and stop making me look so mundane.
Robin had a fairly extensive shot-list, so our arrival time at her hotel was Noon (for a wedding that would eventually start at 6:30pm). Shot the obligatory “getting ready” pictures.


As a man, it's difficult for me to fully understand the concept of "eyeliner disaster"
Getting into the dress required the precision of a Seal Team 6 operation.

Colin's "getting ready" consisted of eating a sandwitch and then putting on a jacket.

Finally outside, it was time to shoot the “first look” pictures. And, hey, we're only 30 minutes behind schedule.


Robin & Colin had first met at a nearby bar, and Robin was emphatic that we go there to shoot some pictures. Problem was, while I understand nostalgia I also (sadly) understand temporal mechanics – we had barely started and the clock was already getting away from us. Never-the-less, I threw Robin, Colin, and Mike into my car and did my best New York cab-driver impersonation into afternoon traffic. Fate smiled on us as there was a parking space directly across the street from the bar. I left Colin & Mike to the task of getting the bride across the street while I ran ahead. Entering the bar, my heart sunk. It was packed. What the hell were all these people doing crowding into a bar on a beautiful summer Saturday? A question best left for some other time. I quickly made my way down the bar and spied what looked like a group of four folks having drinks. Walked up to them like I knew them all my life: “Hi. Listen. In about 10 seconds a fully dressed bride & groom are gonna walk through the door. This is where they first met. I’m the wedding photographer and we’re 45 minutes behind schedule.” I honestly don’t think it was my words, so much as the reflection of frantic truth in my eyes. Whatever it was, they happily agreed to give up their seats. The bartender, who had overheard my rant, was looking at me. Note: part of the “first met” story involved Robin buying Colin a Guinnes. I pulled out a $20 (the only thing I had on me) and said I need 2 Guinness right now, keep the change. Beers are pouring as I hear clapping from the patrons of the bar. R&C had arrived. I got them into place and we did our thing. Click, click, boom. Out the door, back to the hotel. 18 blocks, a dozen pictures. Total round trip time: 20 minutes.


Spent two hours driving around town in a limo-bus, big pimp’in style. Hit the other locations on the shot-list, re: A bridge on an island, the hills overlooking the city, pictures inside Duquene Incline, and finally meeting friends down by the river. Lot's of moving around. Lot's of setting up and tearing down gear. Did I mention that the Vagabond Mini was only three and a half pounds? This is where that makes all the f'n difference.

Into the limo-bus with the rest of the bridal party.





5pm. I’m drenched with sweat. Back to the hotel, Indy 500 pitstop to shower and change into my tux. Oh, did I mention that I’m also in the wedding, as well as shooting it? Yeah, there’s that too. Over to the venue proper and what would turn out to be my favorite shot of the day – the signing of the Kutuba (for the goy, the Kutuba is essentially the Jewish version of the wedding license – as soon as it’s signed your married, making the rest just ceremony).
I love this photo so much it hurts.

But ceremony is impotant, so they figgured they better have one.


The ballroom where the wedding/reception/diner took place is very popular for weddings, and unforgiving for photographers. It’s a “romantically lit” (ie, dim) cavernous room with 30 foot high brown marble ceilings – nothing you could ever bounce a flash off of. Basically an enormous, poorly lit cave. Even my venerable D3s @ 3200 iso was struggling to keep up. There was a period during the after ceremony speeches where the whole thing just got away from me. Nothing I was shooting was looking at all acceptable, and nothing I did was making it better. These are the dark times. During my sporadic cigarette breaks I was muttering to myself what the situation called for was a real photographer, and not a hack with fancy gear. But eventually the dancing and making merry began, and I could at least run & gun with my SB800. The pictures improved as did my mood.
2AM and the party breaks up. Everyone (my friends included) head back to the hotel. My dear friend Liz, drunk as a skunk, somehow managed to pull one over on the hotel’s night manager and got him to let us all into the hotel pool. I stripped out of my tux and down to my skivvies and got in the hot tub. Best. Idea. Ever.
3:30AM I’m back at home, stinking of chlorine. Exhausted, but not done yet. God bless Lightroom; it let me cull through 900 pictures and pick the best 200. Copied them onto my iPad to be shown at the 11AM brunch back at the hotel. I had Lightroom also upload a web galley of the same. At 6AM I crawled off to bed for a meger four hour "nap".
Brunch was filled with ohhhs & awws over the pictures. There were hugs. I donno if I’ll shoot another wedding anytime soon, but this one sure was something.


End of line.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, by the time we got back to the hotel, I was only drunk as...a chipmunk. Squirrel? Something smaller than a skunk. Also, seriously, that is one of my proudest moments ever.

    Also(2), I almost teared up AGAIN at the photo of the ketubah signing. Damn you, Stein.