My First Wedding (with my master’s degree)…

And it was full of challenges and delights…. and for someone fresh out of documentary photography school, there was definitely plenty to document.


First challenge, photographing at 12 noon without a single cloud in the sky and the sun directly beside the temple where I am supposed to shoot the group shots. And so Paige learns how to use a flash. I didn’t have a choice about where to do the group shots, and neither did the other three photographers I watched shoot the formal wedding portraits on Valentine’s Day weekend at the Mormon Temple in Oakland… because this is where the formals are taken, and not only that, but you only have 20 minutes allotted to do so before the next wedding is ready for their photos. And with all our creative licenses taken away, we all photographed the exact same way… 35mm digital slr, flash on camera and pointing directly to the subjects… not very exciting but it worked and having never used flash for formal portraits before, I was holding my breath just to have something to show for after the day was done.

Other fun documentary highlights: the bride noticed an ant on the cake just as all the final reception touches were being made… but to everyone’s dismay, except for the groom who was laughing, and me who was photographing, we learned where there is one ant, there are hundreds more near by. And these guys were coming from the fresh garland on the table around the cake.


Another amazing fact about the event… Jeanie, who I have mentioned before, is the bride’s very close friend and as a gift to the couple, she cooked dinner for the 200 reception guests. Not only is it amazing that anyone can cook for that many people, especially because I can’t cook for 2 people, but Jeanie is blind. And she pulled it off beautifully.


And the final challenge: photographing the reception in the very dark basketball gym… Paige learns flash again, this time with a sync cord that was permanently stuck and so I was forced to hold the flash in my left hand and try and keep the camera straight and still with my right hand. I went back and forth with trying to bounce the flash off the very high ceilings to pointing the flash at the subjects, and on more than occasion, I was pointing it in my own face as I pressed the shutter and that never looks very professional.


But the final lesson from this wedding is that I love the canon 5D. I rented one as a back-up from Looking Glass Photo in Berkeley, because my 20D is not very reliable these days. I love the full sensor, the huge screen on the back and the improved ability to shoot in low light and am going to purchase one this week.

With my new flash skills and my new camera (soon), I am ready…. Let the wedding season begin!

About the author paige green

Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.

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