Seventeen years is a long time to hold a grudge. I think I need to get over it. Maybe getting it off my chest one last time will help. Yes, I think it will.
A few days ago, my husband and I celebrated our 17th anniversary so I have been thinking about our wedding day a lot lately. You know what they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” We are still deeply in love and look forward to many more years of happiness.
When I think of my wedding, I think about the things I would have done differently. The list is long so we won’t go there. The biggest disappointment of the day was our photographer. I wish I could look at my “professional” photos from that day and smile. However, warm fuzzies elude me when I think about our photographer, Cora. She was far from professional (lesson #1).
Things started off fine. The in-studio engagement session went well. The photographer was friendly and I felt like she would be a great photographer to document our wedding day. That all changed when we ordered the “economy” package. I should have known by her reaction to our order that it was not going to be pleasant. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be until my wedding day that the huge mistake I had made would be revealed.
The wedding ceremony turned out to be an hour-long mass. In a church with no air conditioning. In July. Turns out, not realizing the timeline myself, a long ceremony makes for an unhappy photographer (lesson #2). That’s when everything went downhill. However, it wasn’t until after the ceremony when I asked for a certain photo that I became annoyed with the woman that was supposed to be documenting “my” day. My dress had beautiful lace panels down the front sides of my train (at least I thought so). I asked for a photo of the front of my dress. “It won’t be a good picture, “she snarled. Wow, okay. Evidently the customer isn’t always right. She didn’t want to take the picture, but she did. It may not have turned out to be an award winning photo, but it was one that I wanted.
Later, at the reception, she wanted us to cut the cake and do our toast before we had even eaten. Since the ceremony was longer than she expected, she was antsy to leave. We said we would not cut the cake but we would fake the cake cutting and toast for pictures so she could be on her way. We finished the pictures. Ten minutes later she was sitting at a table eating. I guess her hunger beat out her desire to leave.
Notice, no champagne in the toasting glasses! I think, by this time, Mike was done with her, too. Although, it is a great photo of my cake and flowers. My two favorite parts of the wedding!
(Photo by Cora’s Portrait Studio, 1995)
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I received my wedding album (having ordered her least expensive package). Needless to say, I was disappointed. I didn’t get to proof the photos and I definitely didn’t get to choose the photos for the album. All eight pictures (yes, just 8 pictures) were put into a cheap wedding album (lessons #3 and #4). Utterly disappointed. My favorite photos from my wedding are from the chintzy disposable cameras that we put on the tables at the reception. Some may be overexposed, blurry, red eyed, or heads cut off, but I have some fantastic candid photos that I cherish.
A few years later, some friends were getting married and I tried to steer Laura, the bride, away from having the same story. I told her about my unpleasant experience only to find out she had already given the same photographer a deposit! Ug. Laura would have to write her own blog post to tell her experience, but I know she was not impressed with the photographer either. In fact, when I told Laura about this blog post she called Cora a “horrid” woman and asked me to mention her 15 year grudge, as well. I’m not sure about Laura’s experience with the photographer, but I knew when I saw the photographer knock over the unity candle, pick it up, and sweep the bits and pieces into the flowers, that Laura would not be happy. Sure enough, Laura was also disappointed.
So, what lessons have I learned from this experience? Here are a few things I learned that will help me when I shoot my first wedding:
1. Be professional. If I want to be a professional photographer, I need to act like one. I have no desire to have horrible reviews written about me.
2. Ask for a timeline from the bride so I’ll know what to expect. Help tweak the timeline, if necessary, so there’s plenty of time to take the photos. A timeline would have helped me when I was a bride, tooI.
3. Be clear on what the bride can expect from me. No surprises.
4. I’m kicking myself for not getting the negatives from my photographer (way back when, in the pre-digital era). Who knows how many photos she actually took? I could have had many more pictures. My brides will have the option to get a disc of the images. Many more than eight.
5. Put the bride and groom first. They’re the reason I’ll be there in the first place. Be thankful that they chose me to document their special day. I’m thankful already and I haven’t even booked my first wedding! I just know that it is a stressful time, why make it harder for them? Make it enjoyable and capture moments that they didn’t even know happened. Take photos that they still love to look at 17 years later, instead of photos that they can’t believe they had to pay for.
6. Don’t be in a hurry. Stay, mingle, and shoot lots of candids. Enjoy the day as much as possible. After all, it is a very special day. Capture it.
I’m sure there are more lessons, but this post is already a mile long. Thanks for sticking with me on my rant. All done now!
Here are some of my favorite candid shots. Straight out of the memory album!
I think the now common “First Look” shots would have done wonders for our nerves. I will definitely be recommending them to my couples.
He still looks at me like that. I’m such a lucky girl.
WAY over exposed, but one of my favorite photos. I can’t wait to take some shots of truly happy brides!
Another favorite – my father-in-law looking dapper.