Open Source Wedding Photography

April 30, 2008 at 12:02 am 6 comments

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.

Rain is not the end of the world.

The father of the bride holds an umbrella over the couple

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.

The bride is about to kiss the groom just hours before she kissed me.

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 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.

Hubba hubba. Deanna got to capture groomsmen undressing!

Meanwhile, I shot the riveting adventures of hair curling. 🙂

Embracing Diversity
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.

This shot came from a guest

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.

Screenshot of Flickr Sets

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.

Whoops— Vicky in Deanna’s shot

Whoops — Deanna in Vicky’s shot

So my advice to first time wedding photographers– you might want to Netflix Ronin. 🙂

Entry filed under: Photography, Uncategorized, Wedding.

Lecture: Hiking with Dogs Season Compare: McAfee’s Knob

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carolyn  |  April 30, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I think the flickr account is a great idea. And having the digital camera uploaded to a laptop is an awesome idea… and I hate when there’s photographers and people are like “Oh, we haven’t gotten the pictures yet.” And then it became “We only have negatives” or something weird like that. I’m not quite sure, but I still have yet to see professional wedding pictures of some of my friends’ weddings.

    AE was our photographer, and Britt’s friend Tony videotaped it. And Clint uploaded all the photos from our wedding and honeymoon to acm, and then later they were uploaded to flickr when it came into existance.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on having to “buy the pictures”. LIke the Sawyer family reunion. What was the point? Clint stood behind the photographer and took almost every picture she did anyway.

  • 2. TGAW  |  April 30, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    @Carolyn – The delay is definitely one thing that stuck out to me as a deficiency. The official pictures of Stacy and Louise’s wedding were nice… but by the time they were finally available online, I had already seen plenty of comparable shots that were uploaded to Flickr *weeks* earlier by the attendees. Keeping in that mind, Deanna and I had some pictures uploaded the night of the wedding . 🙂

    And like you, I was discouraged by the “double billing” we saw with the family reunion. I understand people need to make a liivng, but she did get paid for her time and 12.00 for a 4×6 print was ridiculous.

  • 3. Chriggy  |  April 30, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    The problem with professional photographers is the copyright issue. Even if you have the prints, the photographer owns the copyright. We have our proofs, but its impossible to get copies made, unless we get written permission from the photographer. Most professional quality scanners like the machines at CVS that let you make copies actually check the photo paper the print is on. If it’s professional quality paper, no go unless you get a password from the person working behind the counter.

    This is why our wedding pics on flickr are posted as friends only. I’ve recently changed them to public. I figure if I get a cease and decist, I’ll just make them private again. Or fork up the $300 to get our negatives and the rights to the pictures. There’s going to be some more going up soon. And then there’s all the ones we haven’t gotten around to scanning yet.

  • 4. Clint  |  April 30, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    It’s akin to musicians expecting a lifetime’s income for work that they did once, via physical media sales. And it is equally an outdated idea — Dinosaurs Will Die.

  • 5. Chriggy  |  April 30, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I also think that digital cameras are making the professional wedding photographer kind of obsolete. While not everyone may be able to get as good a shot on the first try, at least everyone has the ability to instantly review the pic and retake it if it turns out bad. And with enough cameras there, somebody is bound to get a good shot.

  • 6. Carolyn  |  May 1, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Yeah, and it’s annoying at weddings when the photographer steals the bride & groom (and the rest of the wedding party) for like an hour to take staged pictures. I’d much rather do it the way Clint & I did where we get to party with everyone the whole time and not pose.


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