Couples don’t realize everything a photographer has to do at a wedding. It’s more than just bringing our fancy cameras and lenses inside our impressive black camera bags. Our work goes far beyond the actual wedding day. We have to be quick on our feet and never stop watching for that perfect photo opp moment. I want to walk you through the process and let you into the mind of a photographer. My mind.

This was not a real wedding, this is just a fun story that gives you a picture of what wedding photographers go through. The photos I used in this story are from various past weddings I have done but none are related to this made up story, they are just to give visual to the story and showcase some of my pictures.

As requested by the bride, I arrived only one hour before the wedding was to begin. Then she asked me, “So can we take my bridal portraits now?”

I was adjusting the settings on my camera and I looked at my watch, 12:05 P.M. Okay the wedding starts at 1:00 P.M. so that gives us fifty five minutes. “Okay, we can try and squeeze in a few.” I said.

We went outside and I got her set up on a cute little heart shaped bench on the patio.

“Make me look elegant.” She said with a snicker under her breath.

“You do look elegant.” I answered, because that’s my job, to make the bride feel comfortable and beautiful. But really, I think all brides are beautiful on their wedding day.

So I stepped up on my step stool and looked through the view finder on my camera. I found the bride in the frame and… Crap, that’s way too much cleavage. All of freaking Texas would fit between those two mountains.

I got down from the stool. I couldn’t shoot from that angle or she would have to sensor her photos when she showed them to her future children. I also didn’t want to embarrass her by telling her why I didn’t take a picture from that angle, so instead I said, “I’m not crazy about the lighting from that angle.”

I tried eye level with her. At least I didn’t look like I was about to fall in. We managed to get a few pictures that I felt decently good about.

I saw a mirror on the fence so I told her to stand in front of the mirror with her back to it. The back of her dress was beautiful, and I didn’t have to worry about the grand canyon if I focused on that. I took a picture of the reflection of the back of her dress while she was in that incredible bokeh blur in the foreground. It was a great shot.

When I looked at my watch I realized we only had about thirty minutes to curtain call, so I told her I needed to get in position and get my camera ready. I ran back through the dinning room and quickly grabbed some photos of the decor, because I know they’ve spent time on this part of the wedding and will want to remember it.

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This is an outdoor wedding on a partly cloudy day, so I was dealing with, bright, dark, bright, dark, bright, dark, and it goes on like this the entire wedding. Thankfully they had put the area they would be standing, under a well shaded area. At least all of those photos came out fantastic.

The next major hurdle was that it was the fastest wedding I had ever been to. I swear if you sneezed you would have missed it. I didn’t even have time to get pictures of the audience during the ceremony. Not kidding, the entire thing took less than five minutes.

So we made it through the vows, ring exchange, and kiss in 0.5 seconds, then we headed indoors where the food had been brought in.

I finally had enough time to walk around and get pictures of the guests while everyone ate, making sure I didn’t get anyone mid bite. I was also looking for those of the guest that held a special place in the bride or grooms heart, so I could focus on them. I mean let’s face it, the bride isn’t going to care much about ten pictures of her neighbors boyfriends five year old, no matter how cute he is. But if that five year old is actually the brides nephew then those ten pictures may not even be enough.

That being said, my next job is research. So while I was taking pictures of the guests, I was asking, “So how do you know the Newly Weds?” Once I knew who was who, I could focus on those certain people that I knew the bride or groom would really appreciate having extra photos of.

I also wanted to make sure I was in a good position to get a fantastic picture of the mother and father hugging the bride or the groom. Those are special moments I want to freeze in time.

Finally it was time for the signing of the Marriage License. I found a great place to capture the moment and I got down at the angle I wanted. The couple appeared in my finder and… the brides ‘girls’, are stealing the moment, so I change my angle.

Once the License was out of the way, we had a few minutes to grab some portraits of the newly weds. This is one of my favorite parts. I love to capture the joy, and love the couple feel for each other.

Next it was time for the dances, Father and Daughter dance, Mother and Son dance, and then the much anticipated, Bride and Groom dance. The lights dimmed, so i adjusted my camera again. I don’t really like to use flash, as I feel it takes away from the special moment. So I have to make sure I have steady hands.

After that we started the family photo’s and the wedding party. The bride brought in her family first and asked, “How should we stand?”

I was just staring at these twenty people and I had no idea who they were or how they were related to the bride. So I had to ask. I got names, relationships, and then I tried my best to remember them. Within about five minutes I had to figure out the most flattering poses for each person, make sure they were uniform in the photo, and arrange them according to who is married with who, who is closer to the bride by blood and so on. But before I got them all set, the mother of the bride looked at her son and his girlfriend, who he wanted in the photos, and asked, “So how serious is this thing? I’m just asking because she wants to know.” She pointed at me.

What? I did no such thing. I never asked anything about them, I simply asked, “Who’s with who?” Thrown under the bus again because of awkward family drama.

I didn’t say anything and just continued on with learning everyone’s names while the Son and Mother duked it out over the obviously unwanted girlfriend. The son won, the girlfriend was in. We finally got the shots.

Next was the grooms family and we started the process over. No drama in that family thankfully, and I wasn’t blamed for anything.

The wedding party was much easier. So we blitzed through those pretty fast.

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Cake cutting went without incident, other than some cake face smashing.

By the end of the day after I packed my camera away, my feet were killing me, my back was hurting from all the times I had to squat, or even lay down on the floor to get those unique shots. My shoulders and arms were tired from holding my one hundred pound camera for six hours straight. Okay so maybe it’s not that heavy, but I swear by that last hour, it might as well have been. But despite all that, I finally got the chance to talk with the couple and hear their story.

They told me about how it was the grooms best friend, also his best man, that introduced them, and how he never expected they would hit it off so quick. How he loves that they are so happy together, but he can’t help but long for the days when it was just him and his bud. They laughed as they thought about the memory and the bride joked about how he’s hers now, and I realized we had another great chance for a photo with a humorous spin on the story. I unpacked my camera and told them what I wanted to do, and they loved the idea.

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Another wedding done, and another three thousand photos I will have to edit over the next two weeks. It’s a tough job, but I love doing it.

Daily Prompt: Understanding