For me, travelling has a lot of advantages and a few disadvantages. One of these disadvantages is that you only spend money while on the road. But fortunately, if you’re creative enough, you can make money while travelling. You can be an English teacher, work as an archaeologist, work at a hotel etc… In this article I’ll talk about another way of making money: photographing at a wedding or another given occasion.
In most less-developed countries any foreigner with some knowledge of photography and a decent camera will be viewed as a professional no matter how skilled he/she is. It’s often some sort of status to them that a foreigner is taking photos at their wedding. Thus photographing at a wedding in many less-developed countries has many advantages. First of all, it pays well. Secondly, you’ll often be treated as a VIP, which means that you won’t have to worry about getting something to eat and drink for the day. You’ll also experience the culture from a different perspective, and you’ll be able to photograph all those beautiful people without them being bothered by it!
Thus photographing at a wedding in many less-developed countries has many advantages. First of all, it pays well. Secondly, you’ll often be treated as a VIP, which means that you won’t have to worry about getting something to eat and drink for the day. You’ll also experience the culture from a different perspective, and you’ll be able to photograph all those beautiful people without them being bothered by it!
So how would this work? What you basically need is: 1) a decent camera, 2) some knowledge of what is going on in the area you’re staying at, 3) a way to get your photos printed and, 4) most important of all, to be creative and flexible.
You’re recording someone’s happiest moments of their life, so you have to make sure you’ll cover everything. It would be a good idea to get the couple to think ahead about the shots that they’d like you to capture on the day and compile a list so that you can check them off. This way you’ll come across as more professional and your day will be more organized and less stressful.
The family photo part of the day is the most important and perhaps the most stressful. People are going everywhere, you’re unaware of the different family dynamics at play, and people are in a ‘festive spirit’ (and have often been drinking a few spirits) to the point where it can be quite chaotic. Get the couple to nominate a family member (or one for each side of the family) who can be the ‘director’ of the shoot. They can round everyone up, help get them in the shot and keep things moving so that the couple can quickly get back to the party.
Timidity won’t get you ‘the shot’ – sometimes you need to be bold to capture a moment. However timing is everything and thinking ahead to get in the right position for key moments are important so as not to disrupt the event. During the formal shots be bold, know what you want and ask for it from the couple and their party. You’re driving the show at this point of the day and need to keep things moving.
Get a little creative with your shots. Make photos from different perspectives; this will give your photos an extra dimension. Photograph rings, backs of dresses, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus etc. Take some shots from high places so that everybody will be on one photo. The beauty of getting up high is that you get everyone’s face in it and can fit a lot of people in the one shot. The key is to be able to get everyone to the place you want them to stand quickly and to be ready to get the shot without having everyone stand around for too long. The best way to get everyone to the spot is to get the bride and groom there and to have a couple of helpers to herd everyone in that direction.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy the moment and make use of the position that you’re in. Chat with the guests, maybe you’ll hear of another couple wanting to marry or somebody organizing a formal occasion that they also want somebody to record. Before you know it the ball gets rolling and photography assignments start coming in!