You know, I think my parents are secretly really digging the fact that their kids are ‘grown ups’ (she says, as she sits on the couch in a t-shirt covered in sequins). While I’m certain my mother is freaking out that I’ll be turning twenty-ten next year (what was that? No? No it’s just me then? Righto.), there is a certain fun that comes with not having to actually ‘parent’ us anymore.
Which means that birthdays – they’re no longer full of balloons and fairy bread and stuffing lolly bags and staying up until 2am the night before, carefully icing the cake to make it look just like the one the birthday child had carefully selected from the well worn copy of Australian Woman’s Weekly Cakes book. (Actually, on second thoughts that sounds excellent. Let’s go back to these kind of birthdays!)
Birthdays are civilised affair these days – yunno, so civilised that when Claire got another-year-older-definitely-not-another-year-wiser we all piled into Dad’s trusty party bus to go on a wine crawl. (It’s like a pub crawl, for those of you playing along at home, just more fun because you can test pretty much everything for only $5 and take home boxes of the stuff, judgement free.)
And yes. I’m fully aware that the following montage of images make us look like complete fools. I mean, we even have lame inside jokes and take photos of each other taking photos. Because after nearly 30 odd years of having to put up with each other on long car rides we’ve finally figured out that we’re stuck with each other, so we may as well make it a little bit of fun.
That’s where the red wine comes in. As a family, we’ve got drinking sorted. Amen to the vino. All of the vino.
And while Mum may have failed to teach us some basic life skills (turns out, there’s actually a reason why you should separate your whites and your colours before you put them in the washing machine – seriously, who knew?), she did teach us a very valuable lesson about balancing our drinking – keep the glass in each hand topped up, and you’ll be juuuust fine.
Every wedding I shoot there’s ‘the’ photo. It’s the one photo that sums up the day in just a few little pixels (ok, so like, seven trillion because I have a pretty high resolution camera, but, whatever). And that’s the image above. That’s the image that sums up Adam + Lenny’s big day. It’s not the prettiest image of the day. It’s certainly not my favourite. But it’s the one image that I know they’re going to treasure in years to come. And it’s not because Lenny really likes napkins.
It’s because it’s the very moment that these newly weds announced to an entire room of their favourite family and friends that they were having a baby.
That’s right, there were three people standing at the top of that alter at Potters Receptions out in Warrandyte (thanks for havin’ me back, y’all). One might have barely been 12 weeks old, but I can’t think of anything more wonderful than knowing that you were starting your family in more ways than one as you said your vows and shoved a ring on the hand of your very bestest friend.
Being knocked up certainly didn’t stop Len. Once the vows were exchanged and the portraits were taken care of, this Mummy-To-Be tore up that dance floor. I mean, check this out. Does this look like a lady with a baby??
In fact, no one was really afraid of a boogie, with the dance floor packed until the wait staff were literally packing up around us. There’s nothing better than the madness of a wedding that’s full of tradition – accordions and all. Oh, and if you spot a few familiar faces in the crowd, it’s because there’s a past bride AND a future bride in this lot. (yup, that’s right. I get to do this family all over again in a few short months time!)
But let’s start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start, so I’m told.) These two party cats tied the knot on a gorgeous Summer’s day. Congratulations Adam + Lenny. In more ways than one. x
I’d like to sit up here, all mighty on my high horse (actually, it’s a high ‘unicorn’, because I’m a little bit fancy pants like that), singing that song about how the world is full of beautiful things, and I never run out of things to take pictures of because beauty is all around me. All I have to do is open my eyes and BAM. Gorgeous photo.
But that’s about as close to reality as my aforementioned unicorn.
Sometimes, I couldn’t take a photo if my life depended on it. True freaking story. (Wait. You’ll keep that a secret between us because we’re friends now, right?) Whether I’m bored, or uninspired or just plain ‘not in the mood’, sometimes, picking up that DSLR and making magic happen just isn’t gonna happen.
Oh, and ‘nuf with the whole ‘just pick up the camera and shoot something. Anything. ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING EM. You’ll find your stride and probably a little inspiration with it,’ song. That remix just simply doesn’t work for me. I get home, download the pictures, hate them all and end up watching re-runs of Gossip Girl while eating corn chips. Another true story.
But I’ve been doing this jig a little while now, and I have discovered a few little tricks that can help me back on my way to inspiration land again. And after the jump, I’ll even share them with you…
Really Great Inspiration Tip One: Trawl back and find some unedited gems.
Unless you’re yet to take your camera out of the box, chances are you’ve learnt a thing or two in all the time you’ve been shooting. Your perspective changes, your skills change. So dig out those unedited ‘rejects’. What was once too hard, too washed out, too blown out, too dark, too crappy a composition might just be something wonderful. Yunno, like a diamond. Shine that bad boy up and you just might have a sparkly gem.
(don’t believe me? Every single picture in this post was a previously discarded RAW file.)
Really Great Inspiration Tip Two: Find a picture you like, and figure out how to make it.
Everyone has their own style. The types of shots that take their breath away in a fit of ‘why can’t I SHOOT LIKE THAT?!?‘ rage. It’s no secret that I love those airy, slightly vintage shots that have a real fly-on-the-wall journalistic feel. But instead of wandering around, just expecting that my eye and my camera will just ‘take’ images like that, I create it. I find some favourites. I set up the shot. I spend hours playing around with tones and layers to create the exact right feeling. And once I know how to do it, then I put my own Emma spin on it.
Really Great Inspiration Tip Three: Change the way you see the world. Through your lens.
Turns out, that old ‘doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result’ nugget also applies to photography. (I know, right? The wisdom I’m imparting today, it’s quite literally priceless.) You can’t expect to change the way you shoot, if you don’t change the way you see the world. Look up. Look down. Lay down in the grass and shoot a picture from your dog’s perspective, instead of from your own. Increase the warm tones. Try playing with your colour tones before you convert to black and white. Shoot around a corner, with a wall in the way or from the rooftop.
Whatever it takes, just change things up. Because if you’ve lost your inspiration, chances are, you’re not gonna find it in the places you’re already looking.
If there’s one thing that really used to get my banana in a tizz when I was a young lass, it was this whole Mother’s Day (oh, and Father’s Day too, don’t worry, I’ll give you a great big long rant on that one in September) monkey business. I mean, they already have birthdays but those cheeky minx parents of the world have gone and created a whole other day to make us poor slave children shower them with presents and serve them burnt toast and weak tea in bed.
AS IF IT ISN’T HARD ENOUGH BEING A KID THESE DAYS?!
If you’re anything like me, you would have challenged your folks a couple of times on this one – but sadly it seemed like every parent already got their back story sorted out back when they created this whole farce of a special event…and they’re unwilling to budge from what I’m declaring, the most ridiculous answer in the Parent’s Handbook.
Sing along if you know the words…
Me: So, if you get Mother’s Day, and Dad gets Father’s Day….when do we get to celebrate Children’s Day, huh?
Mum: Everyday is Children’s Day.
Oh no you di’nt.
Fast forward 29 years. And I get it. Being a kid might be hard darn work, but being a parent (especially my parents. I mean, I was a model child but can you imagine having to raise those brats Will and Claire for eighteen odd years? I shudder…) seems to be even harder. Between temper tantrums and hair pulling and refusing to eat pumpkin, I’m gonna give my parents a standing ovation for managing to hold out until the evenings to dive into the booze.
So, without further adieu (or maybe a little more adieu. I do like adieu-ing.) let me present to you a watertight list of reasons why my Mum needs a whole day in her honour. Actually, reading these back – she probably deserves a whole dang parade…
- Because she once drove all the way down to my house with chicken soup when I was sick. Did I mention that I was 25 at the time and perfectly capable of cooking my own darn soup?
- Because she once had to spend the whole afternoon organising a search party and wandering the streets looking for me when I went next door to play and, uh, may have forgotten to tell her. (Seriously Mum, Brooke had just gotten a Super Nintendo. HOW CAN YOU BLAME ME?!?)
- Because she once had to spend the afternoon pulling cactus prickles out of my brother’s face when we raced around the front garden and he didn’t quite have the manoeuvring capabilities to navigate around those spiky plants.
- Because she had to stay sober AND THEN drive van-loads of drunk 20-somethings back to our house AND THEN pretend not to care that the after party of my 21st kicked on until 5am.
- Because we made her listen to the Offspring’s Americana album all the way to and all the way home from every swim meet of the season. Mansfield is far away. That’s a whole lot of Offspring.
- Because she once had to rescue my 2 year old sister from a mad sheep, after me and Will hauled ass back to the cabin.
- Because we talked her into buying general admission tickets for Sound Relief, and even though it rained, she still braved the mosh pit.
- Because both Claire and I both did dancing concerts. That’s twice the sequins that need to be sewed onto lycra, just incase you were wondering.
- Because we make up special occasions and then force her to make cheesecake. (Best cheesecake in the world, just sayin’…) We also used to start talking about chocolate pudding at 9pm at night and guilt her into making one.
- Because we used to leave random Lego pieces on the floor. (Not deliberately, but evidently these bastards hurt when you stand on them in the middle of the night…)
- Because we used to get so bored on car trips that the only thing we could argue about was who was looking out of ‘our’ window.
- Because we used to bath the pet goose in the human bath.
- Because we used to steal her good pots and pans for our camping adventures.
- Because we knew where the Christmas presents were hidden and instead of being ‘good’ children and staying out of the ensuite so as not to ruin the magic, we totally used to peek. One year, Will and I opened half the presents under the tree and then re-wrapped them. Little jerks.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Bear. Why you didn’t just give us away to the slave trade is beyond me, but I’m really glad you didn’t. Deep down, I guess you always knew that those feral little brats would one day grow up to be somewhat responsible adults, who refuse to give you grandchildren, but buy lots of pets. x
Did y’all notice that I’ve managed to wrangle champagne into both of this week’s posts? You did? Impressive, no?
But I digress.
The point of gathering here today is to discuss a very real photography sitch, one that every wedding photographer will encounter at some stage in their career. (No, no, not that. I’ve already told you, extra batteries, you foxy minx.) The time when a friend or family member will announce that they have a ring on it and oh-mi-gosh-I-love-your-photos-and-can-you-please-be-our-wedding-photographer?
This sentence? Well, it’ll either have you dancing around the lounge room humming along to celebrate good times c’mon! Or, you’ll be quivering in fear. Lots of fear. Because you’ve just been asked to play a very real role in a very important person’s very big day. What the crap will you do if you stuff it all up?
The good news? I’ve got some pearls of wisdom to share about this very topic – because much like Khaleesi making some dragons at the end of season 1 in Game of Thrones, when your friend asks you to be her wedding photographer – it’s a game changer. The regular rules go out the window in a pretty little box, and you need to abide by a few new ones to make sure you both make it out the other side – reputation, sanity and friendship in tact.
Sign a contract.
If I could put that heading in bigger font without freaking out that it was messing with the design of my site, I would. (But I just can’t do it. Do you know how many late nights went into this site?? AND IT WON’T MATCH THE OTHER HEADINGS!) Think that it’s totes ok because it’s Cousin Susie and as if we need a contract, she’s family after all! Wrong. Way, way, wrong. Fail. Negative. Error. Doesn’t matter who it is, a contract outlines the responsibilities and liabilities of either side and you need one every freaking time. Period.
Set the expectations.
Organise some time before the big day to sit down with the giddy bride to be, wrench the four dozen, dog eared bridal magazines out of her hands and have a chat over a coffee to map out exactly what’s expected of you on the day. Are you a guest who’s taking photos or the photographer who also happens to be a guest (trust me, there’s a big difference!). Will you be ‘on-duty’ all night, or will it be camera-down-drink-up at the reception?
Treat them like a regular client.
Just because they’re related to you, doesn’t mean that they go at the bottom of the location scouting/editing/album designing queue. You are a professional, dammit, and you should be showing them the same VIP service you extend to your regular clients. And if that doesn’t up your motivation levels, consider this. They’re likely to be your biggest cheerleaders, (because they already like you, you see) so if you knock their socks off with the red carpet treatment, they’re going to sing your praises louder and further than anyone else.
Have a drink, jump in the photo booth.
If you’re a phoguestographer (haha, diddya see what I did there? Hashtag that bad boy, get it on Twitter, spread it out to the world!), you’ve not only responsible for capturing their amaze-balls day – you’re also responsible for contributing to it. It’s highly unlikely that someone who loves you will want you behind the lens all night, so make a point of finding some time to put it down, strut up to the bar and order the finest Sav Blanc in the joint and enjoy being one of the regular punters. Even if that means grabbing the feather boa and dancing around in the photo booth. You’ve earned it.
And just to prove my point, here’s a few I prepared earlier. I shot the wedding and then I owned that photobooth.
Side note. I’ve just jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon. Holy dragons balls, why did none of you tell me how good it was…I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS?!?