Sunday, May 18, 2008

Well, I did miss a day

But it's because we had three weddings and we all came home so tired we could hardly move. I mentioned to a friend (hi Anita!) that the prep work is almost as hard as shooting a wedding, and she asked what it is that we need to do to get ready.

Here's an off-the-top-of-my-head list:

1. Send out our 6-page Timeline questionnaire to each couple (3-6 weeks before the wedding date).

2. Collect completed Timelines (1-3 weeks before the wedding date).

3. Go over each one with a fine-toothed comb, looking for scheduling conflicts or problems (has someone asked for something that a minister probably won't let us get? Or three different photo locations in one hour?).

4. Go over our list of questions or clarifications with the bride and groom, sometimes with parents. Make sure every little detail is sorted out before we even arrive at the wedding.

5. Make notes on Timeline, make copies and include one in each camera case. Confirm arrival time and location with every bride, and then we let each photographer know when they'll be expected.

6. Pack cases: we bring two of everything to every wedding: 2-3 camera bodies, 2 flashes, 2 flash diffusers (to get our signature flattering look from our flash), 4 lenses, extra memory cards, lens cloth, blower (I'll explain later), and an absolutely appalling number of batteries. Depending on which cameras we're using, we bring 2-5 different types of batteries, 3-36 of each. Since we send out up to 4 photographers in a day, we're going through a lot of batteries*. Joe knows which lenses we like to start out with, and tries to get our cameras ready to shoot the minute we arrive.

*More on batteries: we use rechargeables whenever possible, but they need to be charged within 24 hours of a shoot, so when we get ready in advance, we sometimes end up using non-rechargeables. We can only use them once, and we change batteries before they're spent, so we end up with lots of half-used batteries. Our family and friends take home a gallon-sized bag of gently used AAs whenever they visit.

7. We back up every memory card before re-using it, just in case.

8. While packing cases, Joe inspects every piece of equipment for damage, and tests and cleans every camera before it goes out on another job. The blower is for cleaning digital camera sesnsors, to avoid spots in bright photos (of a bride's dress, for example). Don't try this at home.

9. Replenish emergency kits. We bring emergency kits to every wedding, for our own use, as well as for our brides' and grooms'. We bring bottled water, pain relievers, stomach medications, antihistamine, sewing kit, stain remover, bandages, electrical tape, permanent markers, pens, sunscreen, bug repellant, state and local maps, mints, snacks and lunch if needed, cash (for unexpected valet or parking charges), and an epi pen for Brenna, who is allergic to bee stings.

10. I print out directions and maps to every location we'll be at, including "plan B" locations in case of rain. Yesterday, Brenna had 6 sets of directions with her: to the ceremony site (a church), from the church to the park, from the church to the in-case-of-rain location, from the park to the reception, from the in-case-of-rain location to the reception, and then from the reception back to our house, where she crashed for the night. If someone will be traveling to unfamiliar locations, we will also send a GPS device, pre-programmed with addresses.

11. We also send each photographer with an itinerary, and a copy of the couple's contract.

12. Although we always have a backup photographer on deck in case of emergency, we take extra precautions before weddings. We don't eat anything high-risk (with raw or rare meats or mayonnaise) in the 24 hours leading up to weddings, we don't try new foods or new sports, or work out harder than usual. We're always very careful about helmets and pads when we do skate or cycle. That may sound excessive, but when you shoot weddings for a living, it's important to have our greatest assets (us!) in perfect shape for every job.

That's me, pictured above, in skinnier days. And with really old equipment, before we switched to digital!

No comments: