Monday, August 5, 2013

It's always my first wedding...

This is the shot that was missed,
which I was able to recover with some
memory recovery software. 
I hear it often and I remember asking the same question, "I'm shooting my first wedding, what are some tips?"

Perhaps this is a little bit of a warning to those just doing this for the first time, but sometimes even after doing as many weddings as I have, you can still make some critical mistakes like I did this past weekend.

I had somehow screwed up my usual workflow and accidentally formatted a filled card from the wedding. But let this be both a warning and also some comfort that it isn't the end of the world.

Regardless of that mistake, I downloaded all the files, and inspected the images. Because I had a checklist of all the things that I needed to get captured, I was able to identify that a single important image was missing. I called the bride and was honest to her and explained the situation.

Next, I drove out to them and took a new photo (they were still partying which was a good thing). I ended up looking like a hero for checking and driving back out to make sure I didn't miss that important shot. Ended up staying for a few more group shots and carried on.

Later on that evening I decided to see if I could recover the card, and to my delight I could. Not surprising, only one picture was really important from it, but despite that I was still glad I called the couple to ensure their important moment was captured.

The important lesson learned:

  • Make Checklists
  • After shooting a wedding, package up the cards into a ziplock bag marked with something like - DO NOT USE, DOWNLOAD FIRST (in fact this is what I do with a national sports event photography company I work for occasionally.).
  • Quick and immediate communication on problems. Be honest!
  • Download to a remote laptop and review on site before leaving (if you have the time to do this of course).
  • Back-up cameras (I had three cameras with me. Fortunately the card I erased was on the back-up camera).
  • Review, review, review.... (this is actually a new lesson for me. I've gained so much confidence with my shooting, I never review my shots. I even shut off the 2 second review in my camera both to save power and also less annoying in darker rooms. But stop once and a while and review when you're shooting a wedding).
  • Purchase Memory Card Recovery software (although I reshot my missing shot, I did end up using a memory recovery tool). The card was reformatted and even had new data on it, however recovery software recovered it all even though it was formatted and had new information written to it (I know it sounds very CSI ish, but there's a lot of information that stays on your card if you never fill it to capacity with new stuff).
  • Don't do weddings. If you are nervous about screwing up, trust me, even though you might actually get to a point about being confident in your shooting skills, beyond that technical things can go wrong, and many of them out of your control.
Weddings and other milestone events can be very fun. But it is a lot of pressure. There's lots of advice out there, but none more important than redundancy, being honest when things go wrong, and just to be very well prepared before, during and after.

Despite all the years of photography, I still make the occasional mistake, which reminds me, look at the process you have in place and figure out what could go wrong, but ultimately, those lessons are hard to identify until something wrong actually happens to you.


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