Okay, so here is the deal.
Once upon a time, this beautiful project that Sampford and I are working on together by the name of Graphite started as a wedding photography business with a friend of ours. We realised thorugh running the photographic society at Uni together that we enjoyed working together as a team and Sam suggested we try doing weddings together after we all graduate. At the time I was in my final semester of uni and Sam was working freelance building up his own brand. Our friend had shot weddings in the past, and we figured that between the three of us (one on photos (friend), one on video (Sam) and one flipping between (me)) we would make a solid team for it.
We did a wedding together and it went fine. In fact we loved the couple a lot and being part of their day was awesome. After we had finished that up, we were working on getting our name out there a bit more and our friend decided she wanted to go into post grad for teaching. This would ultimately mean she wouldn't have the time to make this full time like Sam and I wanted to. Sam and I spent a while thinking that we were going to carry on building this together with me on photos and him on video and would hire an assistant if we needed to. We spent a while working kind of passively on this as I was leaving uni and trying finding my footing as a real adult for a bit. I was working for my parents helping them out in their business while I found my feet. Leaving uni is a huge adjustment.
Eventually we both realised that whilst we loved working together, wedding photography was not really our thing. We loved them, but not enough to do it for a living and we found we weren't passionate enough about building it up because of that. You book things so far in advance and don't see any money for ages. The work days are hard and very stressful. You're in a delicate situation of capturing one day in someones life that cannot ever be repeated. It's very high pressure. You have to really love them to shoot them, and I know there are people out there like that, we just aren't those people. I don't think either of us would mind doing them once in a while because there is obviously a part of us that loves the experience of a wedding day, but we find commercial work a lot more fulfilling.
That being said, we had lined up a couple of weddings for friends of ours in early 2018. As the details panned out over the next year, the weddings somehow miraculously fell 4 days apart. 4 days. The only two weddings we had booked after we decided to quit and they were that close in time. I still can't believe it. It was made even more insane by the fact that they were both destination weddings. One in Kaitaia and one in Wellington. Are you getting a sense of how mad this was? Both brides had twin sister too. It was a bunch of very strange coincidences.
It honestly became a manic week. One wedding on the Saturday, one the following Thursday and we had a shit tonne of travelling to do for them as well. And so began the week of two destination weddings as ex-wedding photographers.
Wedding one: Friday we travelled almost all day in easter traffic. Saturday was the big day. Our motel had terrible water, we didn't have much in the way of food because we stuffed up with the public holidays. I slept terribly with the bad bed.
We had assistants for both of us (by way of Sam's girlfriend, Grace, and younger brother) which was great. I had a second shooter in Grace as she had shot some weddings before too, Sam had someone to do what I normally do for him on a video shoot. Everything was a little stressful and foreign but fine.
The day went down with only one little hiccup in my camera set up. My backup camera shat itself in the lead up to the wedding so I hired one for the weekend. I gave my D750 to Grace to use, for insurance reasons more than anything, and the D750 I rented for the weekend had a couple of glitches which was irritating but manageable. Aside from one family formals image where the camera messed up the focus and I didn't notice, it was all fine. No idea what happened there. It just had a mini heart attack for the entirety of that photo series then started working again for the next group.
We drove home the following day, it took a long time and we were all tired and grumpy which made it feel even longer. I arrived home finally and exhausted, got takeout for dinner, binge watched youtube and passed out.
We had one day off at home, Monday of easter weekend. It was a public holiday. I spent it catching up with friends all day.
Tuesday we flew to Wellington.
The second wedding was just the two of us doing photos and video on our own. No assistants, no nothing. Let's just level up the challenge shall we? Like it wasn't a challenge enough to begin with!
Wednesday was a work day for us, with a rehersal at the church and a location scout we ended up being too late to do becuase we got distracted while editing in our Airbnb. We didn't need to do it, I had location scouted it when I was in Wellington a few months prior and I was the one who needed to know it more than anything. I managed to sort through 3 cameras, 2 shooters and 6 SD cards worth of photos from the first wedding that day though and narrow down the picks which was good.
Thursday was a 14 hour work day with not enough food (our fault), not enough coffee (just the nature of the job), and very little breaks. This is where the 'we're not really wedding photographers' becomes obvious because any smart photographer would have had snacks or something in the bags. We also got tired pretty fast, but powered through. The day was beautiful, and we have got to know the couple a bit better going through this process with them, which meant that being part of their wedding day was just that much more special. We are both thrilled to have been there and be part of it.
Friday we were zombies. We basically dragged ourselves out of bed to get breakfast, gapped it from the Airbnb, and we drove around Wellington killing time before our flight. Both of us more or less went into our personal bubbles on the plane. We got home and both just crashed. Sam got sick from being run down, I almost did (fought it off) but mostly just spent 4 days feeling shattered and trying to recover.
All the travel, all the long days, all the stress of it all, we were both pretty wrecked. Weddings are hard work, there isn't anything glamorous about it. You are dressed up nice enough to be at a wedding, but practical enough to shoot it, for the whole day from the getting ready until you crash into your bed with fast food and whisky late at night. You don't get to rest, you're constantly having to be bubbly, chatty and engaging, and whilst all that is happening, you're constantly trying to think about what is happening with your camera and being super attentive to your surroundings becuase god forbid you miss something important.
I admire wedding photographers, you guys are the bomb. You do very beautiful yet hard work with the tolerance and temperament of a saint. I loved living a week in your shoes in hindsight, but I am equally very glad for my more commercial spot in the industry.
But enough of that, you're probably here in part because you want to see how I did. A huge congratulations to our gorgeous couples. Both sets are incredibly lovely people and we were thrilled to be part of your days.