My friend and neighbor, Kevin, called to tell me that he was getting married and asked if I would photograph his wedding.
Although I am pretty much retired, without hesitation I said yes, only asking the date. He continued, “It will be western casual and at our place”. With that I thought, “Well, of course,” and hanging up the phone I turned to my wife and said, “Kevin and Marci are getting married at the end of the month, I hope it’s an overcast day.”
Who knew British Columbia would be having such a record breaking, rainless, hot summer that steadily got hotter and hotter. So by the time Kevin and Marci greeted their guests who waited in large shade tents under a cloudless blue sky the temperature had reached 40 degrees Celsius.
I kicked up dust as I walked into the large coral glad of two things. The first was that my wife made me put on sunscreen and the second, was that high-speed flash sync had been invented.
I remembered the limiting days of film and the one-power-fits-all flashes with which we struggled. On a sunny day we’d load our camera with 50 ISO film, shoot at a high-sync of 1/60th or 1/80th per second depending on the camera and hope the flash didn’t blast the detail out of the wedding dress. On torturous bright days, like the one I was preparing to photograph my friends under, I’d use my favourite flash diffuser, a functional white handkerchief that served to reduce the flash and, when needed, wipe off the salty sweat that made my eyes sting.
I made my way to the plywood dance floor and took a of couple test shots using the DJ as my model. My goal was to slightly underexpose the background. I really don’t like those pictures of people standing in an overexposed environment.
After the ceremony we joined the newly married couple in horse drawn wagons brought over by neighbours, Ellen and Steve from The Ranch, and traveled through the trees to another location where family and guests patiently stood waiting for me to take group pictures. Then we all, bottled water in hand, loaded back in the wagons for the waiting wedding feast.
I wrote that Kevin told me the wedding would be western casual. I don’t know if the ties, vests, and dark, western-cut jacket that the groom, best man, and father of the bride wore were casual attire, but the hats and boots were western, and I will mention that most of the guests were wearing cowboy boots and hats, and boot-cut jeans were the norm.
As everyone enjoyed a meal under the shade of the large tents I snuck away to set up a portrait studio in the barn. My lighting was two speedlight flashes positioned behind a six-foot diameter shoot-through umbrella. I like the wide, undirected, soft light a shoot through umbrella delivers, and a large shoot-through like the one I employed in the narrow walkway between horse stalls in the barn gave a flattering light that allowed me to quickly and easily pose the bride and groom.
Then it was back to the dance floor for the first dance. And I worked my way around capturing photo after photo of Kevin and Marci as they showed everyone how country music should be danced to, then I stepped back so as not to block the many pictures being made by guests holding their cell phones at arm’s length for that perfect shot that I am sure was quickly posted on some social media site.
In spite of the heat I had a great time. And I am certain everyone enjoyed the day. I left before sun down, but later Marci told me things were hopping till around 2AM.
Since then I have seen more than one over-exposed, wedding pictures from at other events displayed with misplaced pride, and read photographer’s complaints about shooting under the bright sun, and working in the heat. My advice for them is to under expose, to use a flash, and not to forget sunscreen.