Instead of just showing the prettiest photographs I captured this year, I wanted to tell more of the crazy, interesting & exciting stories from the year. I am a firm believer that you learn from everything out of the norm that you encounter in life. I learned quite a bit this year and would love to share these stories with you! I’ll throw in a few samples for context.
1. Don’t drink on the dance floor
Every single wedding I find people have an impossible time dancing without holding a drink or their phones, or sometimes both. Bands, DJ’s, venues, plead to the guests, “please don’t bring your drinks on the dance floor” all to no avail. Venue employees love to clean addition glass off the floor as many of the guests enjoy dancing barefoot.
At Michelle & Kyle’s wedding, I was capturing the dancing and they got pretty wild and crazy with Kyle leading the charge at the beginning of the night. I was standing towards the one side of the dance floor where this woman dropped her glass while drinking. She was wearing small heels and within a few seconds I looked down and there was blood shooting out everywhere. She sat down to access the damage and I quickly grabbed a rag to make a mock tourniquet to stop the bleeding. I took a glance at the floor and it looked like a CSI crime scene, but to my surprise, I picked my head up to see how she was doing and she was wiggling in her chair dancing almost horizontally. This woman felt the music in her!
In all seriousness, she did have to go to the hospital from the reception and get stitches in her foot. So what have we learned from all of this: absolutely nothing! Keep drinking and dancing y’all!
2. Foggy beach portraits
I have worked in all kinds of conditions and have had fog before during an engagement shoot but never during a wedding day. There was no visibility on the beach and we had to change a few of our plans on the fly, as often happens on a wedding day.
Here are a few things I learned;
A. It is tough to work with a large bridal party in the fog as you can’t see them within 15-20 feet. We were on the beach shooting, and I couldn’t see anyone when I backed up! We had to change our plans of shooting the entire bridal party on the beach to just the bride and groom for some dreamy photos and one cool black and white of the guys. I moved to the boardwalk which was much less foggy, and I could actually see everyone.
B. I shoot film often and, wow, trying to figure out exposure in fog is rough! Thank goodness for the latitude of the film where it is more forgiving than digital. The beautiful wall art that Kellie and Karl got was on film, and I had it scanned larger for their canvas.
C. Despite being foggy, you can still get a sunburn! I bring lots of things to weddings, including bug spray and sunscreen. It was late April on the beach and didn’t put any sunscreen on due to the fog, but my bald head was not happy the next day!
3. Autism Awareness
It is common knowledge that Autism is on the rise and very prevalent in our lives. My neighbors have two kids that are on the spectrum, and I see them often and how it is with their interactions. However, I have not experienced it with any families when photographing weddings.
I always go through a thorough review with each bride before the wedding and then make sure they know they can text, email or call at any time they need something or have a question. During our review, Lisa let me know that her younger sister has autism and a little background on any particular behaviors and her personality. This conversation was a huge help and glad she was open to give me any detail that will help me capture their day.
She introduced me during the preps in the morning to her sister, and she was great! The bride even said that I captured some of the only family photos with everyone looking at the camera! Lisa, as her dad mentioned in his toast, is a lovely kind-hearted person and that she had to grow up quicker and have more responsibility than most do in their young lives.
4. Swimming Drones at the Beach
I photographed Samantha’s sister Caitlin’s wedding the year before and when Samantha got engaged and met with me we discussed places for her GTKY engagement session. She loved the idea of Ocean City where they spend much of their time together. We planned it out and as the day came there were passing storms which made Samantha a bit nervous but I knew it was going to work out.
It was quite overcast and breezy when I arrived early and met Chris, my second shooter who helped out with the session since he lives so close. The minute we started photographing the clouds blew away and we had the most amazing skies and light. The entire backdrop was dark clouds but sunny blue skies on the east side. I was excited to get a few drone shots with my new drone that was only two weeks old. It replaced my 2-year-old Drone that was my baby! I got a few fantastic photos and wanted to have the couple move to one spot for a photograph with the drone between the two pillars at the Ocean City North Bridge. Well, as I was moving them, I looked down at my drone video controller screen, and it looked like it was in the water. Then all of a sudden: a “lost connection” warning appeared. I looked up, and the drone was gone! My heart sank along with the drone… naturally. I never saw it go in or I would have been swimming to get that drone back with the memory card in there.
So how do you shake off the feeling of throwing $2000 into the ocean in the middle of a photo shoot? You take a few minutes, drop a few f’bombs, and refocus with the couple and the moment. Also, we went on the boardwalk during the end of the shoot for Manco’s pizza and some Kohr Brothers ice cream which helped a bit! My insurance did cover everything, and I got that new drone again to capture unique angles and scene setter photos for the couples and families the rest of the fall!
5. Largest Bridal Party Ever and Pregnant planner
When I first talk to couples, I get the idea of how large of a bridal party they are considering. Yuri & Michael had a rather large bridal party and very very limited time to photograph them along with the couple. We chatted about logistics about a month or two before and had an excellent plan to make the day perfect.
Then I chatted with the with their amazing and kind planner, Amy Weaver, and she mentioned to me that Michael added 10 groomsmen to their bridal party. So now there is 21 groomsmen and 11 bridesmaids. Holy giant bridal party! This is the biggest I have ever had by far. We had another phone call with the planner and the couple to hash out additional details. My motto is “always plan for the worst but expect the best”!
Everything went super smooth except the Park service is cracking down on professional shoots in the city. They want to make that bread anyway they can so they kept telling us we can’t shoot places, but I had planned out enough time that we captured everything I wanted and then some. The Jewish Tish ritual was terrific with this number of groomsmen. So what I learned is plan things out in great detail, and everything will work out!
6. Why you shouldn’t light your client on fire during their engagement session
I love Chrissy & Derrick! They are fun, crazy, cool couple that loves to laugh and play. When we met initially over the web via video conference, she mentioned she loves fireworks but couldn’t have them at her wedding. I just happened to pick up these two giant sparkler cannons that they started selling in NJ. She was so excited when I told her I would bring them for her GTKY/Engagement session down in Ocean City, NJ.
We had a fantastic summer beach engagement session, and after a few slices of Manco’s pizza we went to the end of the boardwalk and set up the two sparkler cannons on either side of the couple. I had my excellent assistant, Lia, shooting slo-mo video as I captured stills. Well, holy god, these puppies shoot everywhere and last about 5 minutes. Everyone staying at their beach houses stopped what they were doing to watch. And once the fireworks finally finished, I had the couple jet with me in case any policia was en route. I did apologize to the homeowners for the noise and light show, but they loved it.
I learned that I needed to buy like 10-15 more of these! I’ve used them several times this past year, and we even used them at her wedding too!
7. Lost gear and wild animals NY country club wedding
I worked at the beautiful New York Country Club late summer. The views and grounds are incredible, however there is this almost 90-degree incline to get down to the course from the main venue. It is so steep it was a bit sketchy riding the golf carts down if you were not used to it. Chris and I photographed the couple on the golf course after the first look.
At the end of the night, I couldn’t find my light meter. Now, after an 11-hour wedding and a two-hour drive home, you don’t want to mess around! We tracked back down the hill by foot looking for the light meter with our iPhones. It was hot, humid, and our legs were burning from walking down the steep pathway to the course.
We had no luck finding it. On our way up checking the last spot, my 2nd shooter Chris noticed some eyes staring at him. I said Chris you are crazy. Then I peered my iPhone light over to the left, and eyes were staring right at me! About 4 feet high off the ground! Chris says “don’t run”! I walked briskly for about ten steps then just took off up the crazy steep hill. We got to the top without losing any limbs but looked like we just ran a marathon.
As we were leaving, we asked the venue manager if they have animals in the course at night. He said “Oh absolutely! We have giant Coyotes everywhere up here!”
So, I learned not to go out at night in NY where there’s wild animals! On the plus side, the venue did find my light meter and mailed it to me thankfully.
8. The hunt for Tastykakes in NY Country club wedding
When I photograph a wedding that’s quite far, I usually stay up the night before. That way we can eliminate any negative variables such as any accidents on the roads, weekend traffic, or bad weather.
Chris and I went out to eat some seafood the night before and afterward, I had a wicked sweet tooth for my most favorite and essential dessert: the creme filled crumb cake Tastykake.
I drove across the street to the local convenience store. No luck! Then to Target. No chance! We drove around for almost 2 hours and finally hit an ACME and found some answers. They had about 1-2 boxes of Tastykakes, but not what I wanted. I asked this gentleman walking by, and he said oh we don’t get much from them. Then he followed that up with the distributor in the northern region is a real A-hole.
I learned that people on the NY/NJ border are robbed of enjoying these confections made famous by the Butterscotch Krimpet in 1927! All due to an ill-tempered individual 🙁
Lesson learned? Always bring your own Tastykakes.
9. Severe Beach storms in Brigantine Engagement session
Kellie & Joe’s GTKY session in Brigantine, NJ was calling for passing storms later in the day after we planned on their session. It was an overcast and windy day down the shore when my assistant and I arrived. We started on their boat for a few photographs before heading to the beach with their beautiful, energetic dog.
When we got to the beach, the dark storm clouds in the background looked uniquely stunning! It started slightly spitting rain after about 20+ minutes of shooting. The rain shower was no big deal, and we went to our covered backup spot when the rain starts coming down for real.
Their album and wall art from their session was completely different from a regular sunny beach session, but wow was it amazing!
This example is why I never cancel sessions unless pouring rain 100% all day.
10. Sometimes Things are serendipitous
Well, during Kandace’s bridal preps at The Moorestown Community house we looked out the window, and it was starting to pour so hard that people were running for cover! Kandace was concerned, but I had backup locations there to shoot, so I was not worried and kept things lighthearted and fun to make sure she was happy.
We planned on their first look in front of these classic windows next to the grand piano. Well what do you know but the minute they embraced the sun starts shining through the window and lit up the entire room! It even stayed rain-free the whole time we photographed outside!
Often when I am shooting, they call for rain, clouds, tornados, etc. You name it! But you know life is always a bit lucky as there is usually a break in the weather for the exact hour or two we planned to shoot outside. Serendipity!
Thanks if you were able to get through this long blog post! Also special thanks to all my families and clients that let me into their lives and for helping me learn more each day.
Looking forward to 2019!!!!