My sister got married a few years ago in the U.S. state of New Jersey on a scorching August day. As a wedding present I'd offered to photograph their wedding (my first wedding). In this post are some personal reflections on the anxiety and excitement of wedding photography.
Every photographer's first wedding is poised to be a nightmare, and mine was no different. The sense of dread on the day before quickly ballooned among the excitement. I did what I could, made sure I read everything available, charged all the batteries, bought new memory cards, cleaned lenses, and tried to do some visualisation. My biggest fear was running out of battery in both my primary and spare, there'd be no coming back from that.
In preparation for this I repeatedly asked myself these questions: “What could go wrong?”, “How can I make sure that doesn't happen?”, and “What will I do if it does happen?”
The day itself was a sweltering and completely still 27 degrees. Being used to temperatures in the mid-to-high teens I was out of my element, sweating before I'd even begun. The pattern of the day (and my schedule) had been decided in advance the evening before: Go to the groom's house and photograph the men preparing, and then to the bride's hotel room and her preparation. To the church, from there to the country park for portraits, and finally the reception. All in all, my day would end up as 14 hours from start to finish, almost all of it on my feet in uncomfortable rented shoes.
All this build-up, all this pressure and tension was finally coming to a head. In a foreign country, shooting a one-time thing for my beloved family, with scant room for error. The deep breath before the plunge.
Despite the mounting adrenaline, as soon as the shooting started and I had something to focus on, the anxiety melted away. A deafening roar diminished to a mere whisper.
Maybe I do know what I'm doing after all.