Recently I was granted the opportunity to shoot the wedding of a good friend of mine & his beautiful bride. Soto & Brittany were married on Sunday June 11th 2017 in the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. The reception was held at the beautiful Historic Acres of Hershey technically located in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. If you’ve been following my blog or Instagram at all, you know that I am not a dedicated wedding photographer, so this event offered a welcomed change of pace and new set of challenges.
I haven’t been to many Greek cathedrals, in fact this is the only one I’ve ever been to, and despite it’s humble appearance from the outside, it is beautifully ornate on the inside. It’s one of those places that inspires you to make 600 photographs an hour.
I chose to shoot the ceremony on the Sony a7II with the 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6, and my Canon 7D mark 1 with the 70-300mm f/ 4.5-5.6. I debated on wether or not to use the 70-300mm, as it’s weight and size were quite cumbersome compared to the a7II setup. But I can’t say enough how thankful I am that I chose to shoot with it. I really liked how it allowed me to get inside the situation without disturbing the ceremonies delicate balance. It was the perfect companion to the wider, atmospheric shots provided by the a7II. I guess it looks like I need to save up and get the 70-200 for my Sony.
After the ceremony we left the cathedral and headed to the Historic Acres of Hershey for the reception. I guess now is as good a time to mention it as any, but that day, June 11th 2017, may have been on the most humidly disgusting days I have ever witnessed in Pennsylvania. The temperature was in the high 90’s and the humidity wasn’t far behind. One of my main regrets of shooting the wedding was that I didn’t get more time with just the bride & groom. The heat, coupled with the fact that the ceremony started a bit late, resulted in dramatic lack of time with just the two of them. I may have only had 15 minutes with just them.
And then it happened. The flood gates opened. Everyone, well probably not everyone, who was at the reception saw us taking photos and decided it would be a perfect time to pull out their cell phones and crowd around behind me. And when I say behind me, I mean right behind me. At one point I needed to take a step back to compose a wide angle shot with multiple family members present. I widened by focal length and took a half step back. Whap! Right into 3 people with their cell phones out shooting over my shoulder. In hindsight I should have politely asked everyone to put their phones away and allow me to do what I was paid to do, but I didn’t. I just kept telling the people I was photographing to look into my lens and to ignore all the cell phones. It worked for the most part with the adults, but with the children it was a different story.
Which brings me to the next lesson learned. Photographing children is not like photographing adults. Sure, when you’re shooting candidly children will act more natural in the presence of a camera, but when you need kids to stand still and look at the camera… that’s nearly impossible. Especially when you have little to no time to create the photographs. Prior to the wedding, photographing the children was something I didn’t give much thought. Now I know. As you can see in the photography below, the group’s attention is divided between me and the 30 people behind me with their phones our talking to the people getting their photos taken. Keep in mind that this shot is the best of the 10 shots I snapped off in succession of this group.
Thankfully I have experience with Photoshop and a session later… This ↑ photograph becomes this ↓ photo collage.
It is by no means perfect, but I see it as a dramatic improvement over the original. This was the first time I’ve ever tried editing a photo as a collage. I do my graphic design inside of Photoshop but I usually don’t take my edit my photos there. If an edit can’t be completed in Lightroom, I usually don’t do it.
The reception was held in the large, beautifully renovated barn that acts as an anchor for the property. Inside of the barn, large crystal chandeliers hung down the voluminous center portion of the room. Natural light flooded through the glass walls that encircled almost the entire structure. I won’t lie, it would have made things easier if the light from the lamps & chandeliers were daylight balanced, or if I was asked to shoot the wedding in black & white. The blue light from the outdoors and the orange light from the incandescent bulbs forced a delicate handling of the white balance in each the shots taken.
If you’ve never been to a Greek wedding, it is like an American wedding, but with even more dancing. And the dancing is sort of more organized. Long lines of hand holding, bouncing people danced and weaved in circles throughout the barn. Each step carefully in sync with the strum of the bouzouki. Or at least that was the intention. The skill of the dancers varied as much as their respective age. Toddlers to cotton tops danced about, most with smiling faces. It wasn’t difficult to pick out those who were pulled to the dance floor by the dense gravity of obligation.
As the sun went down, so did my camera. I’ve made it a habit of doing so because usually at that point of the night people start looking less than flattering. The thirst produced by the long day of events, and the attempt to quench it during the reception, really startscatching up with people.
I learned a lot during the course of this wedding. From the planning stage,to the actual photographing, to the post processingand delivery of the photos, no stage was devoid of obstacle or lesson. And I guess that’s the point right? To do things we don’t feel ready for. To wingit. To learn and grow.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the photos I shared, as well as any advice you may have for shooting weddings. I’m debating on whether or not to throw my hat into the congested arena of wedding photography, so any advice or thoughts would be accepted with the utmost gratitude. And if you made it this far, I feel I need to tell you thanks! There is no shortage of content to consume on the internet, and I sincerely thank you for your time spent reading and looking.