The smell of pine trees was the first thing I noticed about Ibiza, after I had gotten rid of the significantly less well-scented Lads On Tour from the flight over at least. My clubbing days are well and truly behind me (by choice) so it was safe to say that when I touched down in Ibiza my knowledge and expectations of the island were very mixed.
A photographer friend, Marie, met me at the airport and piled me into her little yellow car before whizzing us off to her charming flat, which to my relief was far away from the clubbing strip in San Antonio. I was spending a week working at a successful wedding photography business on Ibiza for career number two of twenty-five, and Marie had agreed to allow me to be the second photographer at a wedding first thing Monday morning.
I have never shot weddings before, or even an event. Prior to last Monday, all my photography experience has been travel and wildlife related, with only the occasional portraits of the people I met along the way.
Events are certainly very different to photograph and it took me a while to adjust. You need to be sure that you do not miss anything, so need to be fully concentrating for 8+ hours, something which is surprising exhausting. If your mind wanders for five minutes, then oops that was the funniest joke of the best man’s speech and everyone was laughing, or woops that was your only chance to get a shot of bride’s face during their first dance when the lighting was just right. For those of us in desk jobs, how often can we honestly say that are we fully concentrating for the entirety of working day, with absolutely no breaks? This continuous level of intense focus was something I had not even considered before about being a photographer.
When the day was over, only a small part of the photographer’s job is done as they then spend several days narrowing down and editing the chosen selection of photos. It was time for an advanced Photoshop and Lightroom lesson from Marie! I learnt a huge amount about how to edit to a much higher standard than previously, but admittedly after editing the hundredth photo I did begin to find it a little repetitive.
Wedding photography and I – the perfect marriage?
Overall I did really enjoy the day, which was helped by the wedding party being very relaxed about photos, there were no bridezillas to contend with. Despite this, it didn't tick some pretty essential boxes of mine - there wasn't much strategic thought, problem solving or especially thought-provoking. Yes, I was constantly engaged and always thinking about how to achieve the best possible image of that moment, and that certainly is a kind of problem solving, but it wasn't the sort that required me to really think through how to solve a challenging issue. There were also quite a few slower periods of the day – there is only so many photos you can take of the same few people during a two hour reception and absolutely no one looks good while they are eating, even the bride.
That all makes is sound like quite a negative experience, which would be a wholly unfair account. To give some balance, I found being a wedding photographer gave the right half of my brain a good work out, and that rush of creativity was exactly what I was hoping for. It felt fantastic to do something artistic and imaginative, things that I so rarely got to do in my previous roles. I was also certainly personally adding value as the photos I took and edited will be used in the couple's album - if I were to be a wedding or travel/wildlife photographer, my opinions and work would make a direct contribution to the overall project, something that I would find really satisfying. There are also the obvious travel and non-desk based attributes which are a big tick for me!
I felt like I was making a sort of difference as I recorded the happiest day of the couple’s life, pre-children anyway. I didn’t know the family or guests but being surrounded by happy people is infectious and I came away grinning for them, and may have even slightly teared up during the ceremony when the groom cried as the bride walked down the aisle. Whilst this is not the type of ‘making a difference’ I had in mind, it was still a lovely thing to be part of.
click photos to enlarge
I realised that being a full time photographer probably isn’t for me, and also know that it will take lots more experience, editing practice and investment in better quality kit before I am anywhere near good enough!
Whilst I love photography and know that it will be a passion for years to come, I just don’t think it covers enough of my essential career attributes for it to be my permanent career. Part of the point of 25before25 is trying out my interests and narrowing down my options, so discovering that a hobby is best kept that way is no bad thing. I definitely would like to continue working on travel and wildlife photography, but I think I want to keep it as part of a wider portfolio.
I do like the idea of photographing weddings every now and again for friends and friends of friends – so if anyone wants a mates rates wedding photographer, get in touch!