Well, maybe not exactly. There are definite differences between the two. But in a surprising number of ways, they are very similar to photograph. Events in general share a number of challenges for the photographer. As far as weddings and sports in particular, there are a number of things I find comfortable. To be clear, I am not now nor have I been a “wedding photographer”. I have shot weddings, and even been paid to do it, but I have never really aspired to be a wedding shooter. Weddings are a very special event and demand a very organized and skillful approach. I would NEVER recommend or even suggest that a beginner go straight into shooting weddings!
So let’s talk about the similarities between weddings and sports:
- They both take place in numerous venues comprising everything from churches to outdoors to on/in water. In fact, there are probably more places to hold a wedding than there are to play sports!
- They both cover the gambit as far as lighting conditions go. But, in both cases it can be summed up as BAD. And in the case of this particular wedding, it was a “candlelight” ceremony, which meant IN THE DARK literally. Flash is required and very special attention to focus is the mantra of the shooter at one of these.
- They both involve moving subjects. You might say “people at weddings don’t move as fast as sports”, and for the most part I might agree with you. But not always. You haven’t lived until you are trying to chase down the 4 year old ring bearer and 3 year old flower girl to get a shot of them where one of them isn’t making a face. Also, just because the movement isn’t fast, it can be just as frustrating. In sports you can’t “pose” a player for a shot you’d like to have. At a wedding you can’t always do it either. Especially group shots require multiple frames since it seems to be nearly impossible to get everyone facing the right way, smiling, and quiet at the same time. The difficulty here is directly proportional to the number of people in the group multiplied by the number of young children involved.
- The last and most important similarity! Both sports and weddings are one time events!! With sports, if you miss a shot of the key play in the game or don’t get any keepers of the player you need you can’t go back a reshoot. Weddings are exactly the same with the added bonus that you could give your business a black eye or even be sued if the situation is bad enough. In sports we have a roster and also usually know many of the players. At weddings, even though I try to get lists of all the family members etc. the plain fact is that you generally don’t know many if not most of the guests/family members. This makes getting all the necessary folks in the shots they need to be in very interesting sometimes.
Both events require a wide technical knowledge due to the challenges of the venues involved. In this case I needed to use strobes since there was virtually no available light. I could have put a speedlight on top of the camera, but the shadow monsters on the wall behind the subjects from the flash in the hotshoe just ruin a good wedding photo. 🙂 In some churches they won’t allow flash to be used. In that case, any photos of the ceremony when candlelit would not be impossible, just very tricky/challenging.
I make a concerted effort to not run afoul of coaches, referees, or even fans at sporting events and have had great success not making a spectacle of myself. At a wedding this is far more difficult and sometimes unavoidable. Although it hasn’t happened to me personally, I have seen photographers cursed like the dogs of hell over seemingly minor things. I have also seen some wedding photos that were simply a complete failure. This is one event where “good enough” just doesn’t cut it in my book! I am a big proponent of hiring a professional when the results MUST be right! A billboard that I used to see a lot summed this up: “If you were having open heart surgery, would you take the low bidder?” Weddings are certainly not the place to start a photography business with your new camera gear.
I have even seen folks on message boards toss out an ill advised question about settings etc. for their new camera outfit for a wedding they have been hired to shoot. This is akin to making your first jump out of a plane with the new parachute you got this morning before you go to the first lesson. If you really want to shoot weddings, try to get a gig assisting a good wedding photog for awhile.
As for my experience, it turned out well and the couple seems to be well pleased with the shots. I didn’t expect the candlelight ceremony and found out about it after I arrived at the church, but remember what I said a couple of posts ago about my definition of a pro? You get the shot! I adapted (and was able to do so because I had the necessary gear with me) and overcame the challenges. All considered, I’m happy with the outcome and the photos came out well, so it was all good. I’m ready to go back to sports where the pressure is a bit less though. Now, get out and shoot!