Open Source Wedding Photography
Two weekends ago was the big day from my friend Deanna and I. Armed with over 6 gigs worth of memory cards and two cameras, we took photos for Larry’s youngest daughter’s wedding.
As with any wedding, there were last minute unexpectancies. The mother of the bride was hemming bridesmaid dresses in the morning. The groomsmen forgot to put on their boutonnières for the ceremony. One groomsman only showed up minutes before the wedding and right as the procession began– it rained! But guess what, future brides, none of it mattered! Even the rain! Guests brought umbrellas and the bride’s father held an umbrella over the couple. The rain, I think, added to the character of to ceremony. That’s one less thing you have to worry about when your big day arrives.
As for the photos… late in the evening, after the reception had ended, I was looking at the pictures on a laptop when suddenly warm lips pressed hard against my cheek. I had NO idea who it was. My skin was woefully unequipped to determine whether these were male lips or female lips kissing me. I looked up and it was the bride.
“Thank you!!!” she said.
I guess if you are getting kissed by the bride, that’s a good sign. I think it helped that this time, I actually got photos of the bride and groom.
This was Deanna’s and my first run at this kind of task. I’m “open sourcing” our approach. For better or for worse, here’s what we did:
Splitting the Shots
A couple weeks ahead of time we reviewed and split up the suggestions in “Photography: 85 Great Photo Suggestions” from TheKnot.com. For example, prior to the wedding, Deanna captured the groom and his buddies getting ready, while I got to hang with the bride and her bridemaids. After the ceremony, while Deanna did an amazing job getting the formal family shots, I handled the cocktail hour at the reception.
Deanna and I took a lot of photos. A lot. Well over a thousand. Still, at the end of the evening, we noted other people armed with digital cameras as well. So we went around and borrowed their memory cards and using a multi-card reader, downloaded them all to a laptop. This added additional perspectives to our collection and frankly, gave us some good shots. This effort was such a success, that I wonder if people really need an official “Wedding Photographer” anymore. Maybe position of the future is a “Wedding Photo Coordinator”– someone to get the data from all the memory cards and consolidate them and organize them.
Usage of Flickr
Speaking of consolidation, Deanna and I decided to use Flickr as the storage point for all the photos. We liked the idea that Flickr would give the guests easy access to the photos (a URL was handed out at the reception) and if they were inclined, they could make comments, notes and download the full size version for their own use.
At first, we thought we would manage it all through a Flickr group. But then we went ahead and bought a Flickr Pro account dedicated for the wedding. Having a dedicated account meant that Deanna and I would not have our own Flickr photostreams overrun with wedding photos. This is important because I like to overrun my Flickr account with dog hiking photos instead. But more importantly, the dedicated account gave us the ability to create Sets. The Flickr group just had one big photostream. At $24.95, a Flickr Pro account is an easy addition to any wedding budget.
We are still parsing through and uploading pictures, but we do have our organization system in place. For each major event of the wedding (like “Ceremony”, “First Dance”, “Cutting the Cake”) we made two Sets. One set contained what we deemed to be the best shots. Since you never know what small detail may be of interest to someone (especially the miscellaneous dancing and reception shots)– we created a “Repeats/Outtakes” set for the activity as well. Guests and family who just need an overview can peruse the “real” set. Meanwhile, people like the bride and groom who have a little more interest can access every shot that was taken. Since the happy couple was given the login to the Flickr Pro account, they have the ability to “promote” a shot from the “Repeats/Outtakes” set to the real one and vice versa.
A Lesson from the Movie Ronin
In 1998, the movie Ronin was released and ten years later, people still rave about the car chases in that film. But, I barely remember those scenes. There is only one scene that has stood the test of time in my memory– The Coffee Ambush. In that scene, Sean Bean‘s character suggests that the team place gunmen on either side of a street to ambush a car as it passes by. Robert De Niro‘s character ever so delicately points out the flaw in that placement.
Coffee Ambush Scene in Ronin
When rushing to catch our shots of the Father-Daughter Dance, Deanna and I inadvertantly took the Sean Bean approach.
So my advice to first time wedding photographers– you might want to Netflix Ronin.