As I run around like a maniac getting my business up and running, I tend to forget that I have an actual wedding to shoot.
In ONE WEEK.
I've been told that a successful photography business is about 20% photography and 80% business. And you know what? I believe it! I feel like all I've been doing is the business side of things for months now, which at times can leave me feeling very empty on the creative side. Which is exactly why I couldn't be happier to have Karen and Drew's wedding around the corner! But truth be told, I've been so busy that the date has certainly snuck up on me!
I met up with Drew last week to visit the wedding venue. He will be marrying his beautiful fiancé Karen at The Grand in downtown Baltimore. Although I attended an arts high school in downtown Baltimore and spent my fair share of teenager hood in Charm City, I had never heard of the place. So I asked Drew to meet up with me so we could tour the venue and I could scope out the lighting situation.
I will totally admit, I was a bit apprehensive about spending significant time with Drew. I usually click instantly with women, which made me wonder if Drew and I would find anything to talk about on the car ride over. And back. I spent plenty of time with him at our first meeting at Starbucks, as well as the engagement shoot with Karen, but both times he had been rather quiet and reserved. I wondered what it would be like to spend a whole afternoon with him. It was the kind of thing that could go really good or REALLY bad.
I picked up Drew just in time to get my usual Panera breakfast and then off we went to Baltimore, a drive I have done so many times before. Right away, I saw a more talkative side of Drew and we immediately started warming up to each other. By the time we got to Baltimore, we were already laughing like old friends, which made me feel hugely relieved. Karen couldn't come because she had her bridal shower that day, so it was going to be just the two of us touring the venue.
The Grand is connected to the Embassy Suites on St. Paul's Place near the Inner Harbor. Upon arrival we were greeted by Vicky, the woman who is helping run the whole show. She took us up several floors until we reached where the ceremony will take place. But before I pulled out my camera, I asked if we could see the bridal lounge. This is where Karen will be getting into her gown on the big day.
Good news? It's a beautiful room right next to where the wedding will be and has a window to let natural light pour in. Challenging news? The ceremony starts at 6:30pm. So yeah. It's going to be completely dark outside. Luckily one of the first purchases I made when I decided to commit to this profession full time was a full frame Nikon D750 camera. This, coupled with a fast lens, will allow me to shoot in lower light.
After we toured both the bride and groom lounges, we entered where Karen and Drew will exchange their vows. As I am not working with a second shooter on this wedding, I wanted to experiment with where I will stand to capture both Karen's entrance with her father AND Drew's first reaction. I asked Drew to pretend he was Karen and stand where she will enter. I, of course know what Karen's gown looks like and couldn't help but pretend he was in it. And honestly? It looks way better on Karen. Sorry Drew.
I then asked him to switch places and stand where he will be. I snapped a photo without moving from my original spot and was happy with the focal length of my lens, but needed the image to be WAY more dramatic because...well, why not?! So I asked Drew to pretend that he had just seen Karen in her gown for the first time and to look a tad bit more thrilled. The above photo is the result of that.
All in all, I was very happy with the space. It's a little bit dark, but honestly the venue is absolutely stunning. Vicky gave us a tour of the rest of the place, including where the reception will be held. She then informed me of just how long I will have to photograph the couple AND do family shots after the ceremony. It will come down to just under an hour. Which in theory sounds like a LOT. But as I know from shooting a bunch of weddings and being a guest at even more, people start scattering like crazy after the ceremony and nobody wants to focus on photos. So it's going to take a lot of focus on my part to move FAST if I want to get the photos I want.
It is my hope that we can move quickly through family formals and take advantage of the beautiful architecture The Grand has to offer. Fingers crossed. Prayers accepted. As we were finishing up our tour, I spotted a beautiful staircase and asked Drew to stand still while I snapped a final test image. We then thanked Vicky for her time and as she was leaving, she turned around and with a smile told me to bring my business cards next time for future brides. Perhaps she says this to every photographer, but in my imagination I won her over by the completion of our tour. Note to self: order your business cards.
I thought the day with Drew was basically over, but the best was yet to come (sorry...you now have that song stuck in your head). As touring a stunning wedding venue is very strenuous work, we decided to reward ourselves with a coffee right there at the hotel. That's correct. They have a STARBUCKS in the lobby. Pretty fantastic.
On average, it takes ten minutes to sit with your coffee, allow it to cool and drink it. But I'm pretty sure that Drew and I sat in that Starbucks for at LEAST 90 minutes talking. About everything. It was honestly one of the most refreshing conversations I've had in a long time. Despite the fact that I'm working for him, I opened up about making the leap to this business full-time and the fears that come with it. I told him about my dance career and how I've known firsthand what it's like to do something you love for a living. After exchanging life experiences over lattes, we both agreed that life is too short to not choose a career you're truly passionate about. I left that Starbucks, and downtown Baltimore, feeling inspired and on the right path.
And hours after I dropped Drew off, I sent him one of the test photos I took at the venue. I received the following text from him that I couldn't help but screen shot.
Guess I'm doing something right.