I just returned from my first "real" photoshoot, though I did not charge (rightfully so), as I only wanted practice.

Some friends of ours recently wed in Greece, and before they dashed off to their wedding, I offered to spend some time after they arrived back taking photographs at local wineries, hence the 'post-session wedding photos'.  They were really very gracious at letting me use them as test subjects, in return for free photos. 

I was somewhat unnerved by the time we arrived, and I realized the reason why was because I had planned so much that I had forgotten to plan an important thing:  what we were going to do when we got there.  I had thought about it, you know:  some poses, some ring shots I wanted to take, details of the dress I wanted to capture.  Simple things like that.  But when we actually stepped out of the car, I was taken aback about how clueless I suddenly felt.  The camera felt strange in my hand, my confidence suddenly plummeted, and I kind of wanted to just sit and drink instead of take photos. 

I mustered some courage, though, and started giving them a little direction:  stand over here, okay, good, now why don't we try it over here...even though it felt a little awkward.  We moved around in different places, me being hyper-aware of the crowd and trying to avoid the music scene during the afternoon.  We moved through the vineyards, and it surprised me by just how much fiddling I was having to do with my camera.  Normally, I can switch settings, open up the aperture a bit, pump up the ISO, whatever it takes, pretty quickly.  But I felt like no matter what I was doing, the shots weren't turning out the way I wanted them to.  Just a little too bright, a little too much, kind of bland, unimpressive.  I think I was most unnerved by the fact that they were having to stand there waiting on me, rather than just going off and playing some more, which is what my usual test subject does.  My camera had become a mystery to me, and I don't know what it was, but I could not for the life of me figure out why the photos were coming out so overexposed.  It didn't help that it was bright out, but that hasn't been a problem before.  I chalked it up to unconscious nerves, and just kept shooting and did the best I could.  I have a folder now full of delicious shots to edit this week, some of them good, some of them, well, blah.  Joel tells me, though, that I'm too harsh on myself and that he rarely gets to see many of the shots I take.  What can I say, I'm a closet perfectionist.

But the main lessons I learned today, in case there is anyone out there considering doing the same:
-I'm glad I did not try to do this cold (i.e., never done a shoot before and charge)
-I'm really glad Joel was there to help me with my camera bag, shot suggestions, carrying the wine, making conversation.
-If I want people to look fierce, I need to tell them to look fierce and show them how to be fierce.  Otherwise, the standard is a side hug.  I have a lot of side hug photos, because I just didn't open my darn mouth.  I need to feel more confident giving direction.  It's funny; normally I have no problem with this, but today, I just felt a little unsure of myself.
-Check out what the couple is most comfortable with, and work with them in planning the shoot.  In my case, the 'bride' loved the attention she was getting from fellow winery-goers, while the 'groom' didn't want to be the center of attention or cause a spectacle.  I had asked ahead of time if a winery was okay, but unfortunately, both wineries had bands playing today, and hence, many people in attendance.
-I need to get my camera out more often and shoot, shoot, shoot in a wide variety of locations, time, and weather. 
-I will need to work on not feeling rushed, and working to get something right, rather than just accepting the blah photos for what they are.  I didn't want to make them stand there any longer, so we would just move to the next area.  I need to work on that.
-I have a newfound respect for wedding photographers.

But other than that, I thought it went really well, and I'm glad I could provide them with the type of shots that were not taken at their wedding (they had a single, unknown photographer). 

It did, however, make me realize a little bit more that I'm not really very interested in doing wedding photography.  The potential images are beautiful, but I think other areas of photography are pulling on my heartstrings a bit stronger. 

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