There are a hundred things that can go wrong from when a wedding photographer starts towards the wedding destination till their coming back to the studio armed with full memory cards and hard drives. While we take the utmost care that nothing goes wrong during our assignments – checking and rechecking equipment, planning around the itinerary, scouting locations, checking lighting, consulting with the family and wedding planners – it is inevitable that life throws us a curveball. Here are five situations straight out of a wedding photographer’s worst nightmare that we pray we may never find ourselves in and suggestions on what to do if you ever do find yourself in one of them.
1). Falling Sick
Oh, how we hate this part of life! As wedding photographers, we are expected to deliver…no matter what. This means we have to be on the ground all the time so that we do not miss making memories of all the important parts of the wedding. But sometimes it just so happens that we are not in the best of health. A sudden stomach bug. Viral fever. Pneumonia. Or worse, something contagious.
No matter the case, the shoot must go on. If it’s something that medication can help with, NSAIDs like Combiflam work wonders in keeping the infection at bay and giving you that little bit of extra strength to go on working. However, it’s important to remember here that you shouldn’t make matters worse – if what you have is contagious, you don’t want to make your client fall sick too! Always have a backup plan in place – and if the worst happens, talk to the bride and groom and explain why you can’t go on; but always present them with an alternate solution. Have alternate photographers queued up who can step into your shoes when needed. Falling sick during an assignment is something that will happen at some point, and you need to be ready to handle it when it does!
2). Equipment Malfunction
Oh, the horrors! This is that situation which must-not-be-named. Ever!
Memory cards crash, hard drives get corrupted, batteries get discharged, the shutter wears out and bricks the camera. Always remember that gear WILL fail – it’s just a question of when!
Our equipment goes through rough handling while travelling, in airports, during shoots and so on. So what do you do if your camera stops working? After all, an artist is of no use without tools of his trade.
The best way to avoid being in a pickle is to always have backups. To everything! So, carry extra memory cards, batteries, and chargers. If you can’t afford to have multiple cameras, always have a list of rental agencies in the area you are shooting in. Renting equipment is always a great way of getting out of a jam and gives you time to go back to the office and get things fixed. Lastly, professional memberships with some camera companies (like Nikon Professional Services) can also help you out when you’re in a tricky situation.
3). Bad Weather
After all the preparations, the location scouting, the light checks and the composition and location set-up, there is still a chance that it may rain down on your parade. And Mother Nature is the one thing that runs on her own schedule. There is very little that you can do in case of rain, snow or worse…fog. If the weather takes a turn for a worse, the show usually must go on – and everyone will still expect pictures of it. So if you suddenly find yourself shooting a Delhi winter wedding at 2 a.m., and a white blanket of fog rolls in, all your images are going to expose white.
So wedding photographers out there, consult with your clients and find out if their venue is in an area where there could be unpredictable weather conditions and educate them beforehand on what can and will go wrong. Make sure your contract has a clause relating to weather, and what can and can’t happen if the weather turns out worse that what you imagined!
4). All work and no play makes Jack a very, very tired boy
Our jobs require us to be on our feet for about 10-12 hours in a day, and during the wedding season, almost every day for weeks on end. Running from one location to the next, being present for all wedding rituals, making sure that we don’t miss out on any interesting late-night wedding drama and waking up early in the morning for sunrise shots; all this can take a toll on the body. Incessant working on different wedding assignments with no breaks in between can affect your creativity, and your work suffers. This fatigue can manifest itself in many ways – sudden carelessness, a sudden lack of creativity in your images, irritability and so on.
To avoid working on autopilot, make sure that you take a few days off before your next shoot. If you’re on a long wedding assignment, plan a rotation schedule with your second shooters so that you can be there for the important parts. A good wedding photographer’s most important skill is their ability to create stories from moments; keep them unique by taking care of yourself!
5). Too many photographers at the wedding
Imagine this: you walk into a wedding expecting to have prime access having picked out the best spots the night before, only to find a dozen other photographers already camped out in all the spots you had thought of. This happens more often than you would think! There are times when the bride and the groom hire separate wedding photographers leading to overcrowding at the wedding. Tensions run high and conflict can cause a disruption in your work. You aren’t able to be as creative as you want to be in this scenario because you’re just too busy avoiding stepping on too many toes! Too many cameras and people can get overwhelming for the client as well – however, it’s important to realise that sometimes they can’t help it either. We should respect their wedding and their decision of hiring two teams. Fighting for the best shot can ruin their experience of the ceremony and that is the last thing we should do, as wedding photographers.
The best thing to do is remember that both teams are there to create memorable pictures. And the best way to do that is to work together. You will find that a smile and a handshake can go a long way in creating camaraderie and avoiding a tense atmosphere.
If you are a photographer who has found themselves at the receiving end of any of the above horrid situations, write out your agony in the comments! Or, if you’ve had a different nightmare – we’d love to hear about it! While you may absolutely hate when you’re stuck in a spot on an assignment, these stories will for sure become great anecdotes in the future. So take it your stride and ride the storm out!