It is here! Wedding season is on like donkey kong. This Saturday I am officially kicking it off with Lisa & Eric’s wedding in New Jersey, and I am kind of ridiculously excited. (I am also super excited to have one of my former brides, Jasmine, second shooting with me this weekend! We are going to rock it out!) So I thought I should do a wedding season edition of Stuff I Love. There are certain things that I just can’t make it through wedding season without:
1. Think Tank Airport Addicted Bag – I need a lot more gear for big weddings than I do elopements. I can’t really put everything in one of my Kelly Moore bags and go. Until I got this bag at the beginning of last wedding season, I actually carried two camera bags to every wedding. And then I had to remember what was in which bag and lug them from the getting ready to the ceremony to the reception. Which was completely crazy, looking back. Now everything I need fits in this bag easily, and I can just throw it on my back and run or stash it somewhere out of the way at receptions. And since 99% of my big weddings are not in New York City, this bag makes traveling such a breeze. I could not survive wedding season without it.
2. Blinc Mascara – This is a new item in my wedding season must have list, and I really have to thank Amanda Megan Miller for introducing me to this one. Until I found out about Blinc, I inevitably ended every wedding with raccoon eyes. Between holding my cameras up to my eyes, sweat (sorry, that’s gross, but give me a break – photography is hard work and it mostly takes place in the summer. What do you expect?), and the shedding of a tear or two during the ceremony or speeches, my mascara just could not withstand the day. I have tried every mascara imaginable, but it didn’t matter. I always looked terrible by the time I got to the reception. Not any more! I got this about a month ago after Amanda blogged about her wedding day make up routine, and it seriously requires me standing in the shower, scrubbing my eyes to get it off. It is the greatest mascara I have ever used. We’ve had some really hot days in NYC over the past month, and I always come home still looking pretty intact and without smudgy eyes thanks to Blinc. (Thanks, Amanda!)
3. Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets – I don’t take these to weddings for me (well… sometimes for me), I mostly take them for my clients. I can fix some things in post production, but I can’t fix shiny. So I carry these so my clients can dab away the shiny when necessary – particularly when it’s hot and we’re traipsing around taking portraits. Every single wedding photographer needs to have these in their pockets on wedding days.
4. Almonds – It is a LONG time between the getting ready and when we, as vendors, get to sit down and grab a bite to eat. And to be honest, there have been weddings when I really haven’t had a chance to eat my dinner. So I always carry a bag of almonds with me, and they keep me going all day long. The last thing you want on a wedding day is to start feeling HANGRY halfway through the ceremony.
5. Sofft Shoes – I swear by Sofft shoes. They are made to look good and make your feet feel good, and they are worth every penny. I have a pair of Sofft heels and a pair of Sofft sandals similar to these, and my feet are much happier at the end of a long wedding day if I’ve worn these. Last year, I injured my right foot pretty badly, halfway through wedding season. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that up until then, I almost always wore heels to weddings because I couldn’t find a pair of really comfortable shoes that also looked professional. I now live in my Sofft shoes on wedding and elopement days, and my feet are much better off.
6. My iPhone – I could definitely not live without my iPhone on wedding days. This bad boy makes sure everything I need is at my fingertips. The morning of a wedding, I make sure to load the timeline, the group portrait list and order, a list of important details I need to make sure I don’t forget to photograph, and all the important phone numbers I may need that day – the couple, their emergency contact, the venue, my second shooter. There is so much going on, on a wedding day that it would be very easy to forget the timeline or an important must-have shot, and that’s why it all goes on my phone, so I can keep everything on track. When I first started shooting, I carried long, handwritten lists with me on wedding days, and this is a much better system. You have to be prepared for anything and you have to be organized on wedding days, and with my iPhone, I can be sure that I am. I’m sure some guests may see me repeatedly looking at the lists on my phone and think I’m reading texts or emails, but that’s okay, since I know it’s what’s keeping me on track all day long.
7. Shootsac – My poor Shootsac has been sitting in a drawer since November, so I am excited to be able to pull it out again this weekend. My Shootsac easily fits in my Think Tank Bag. When I get to a wedding, I pull it out, stick whatever I immediately need in the Shootsac, and then store the Think Tank out of the way. The Shootsac keeps all my lenses at my fingertips, and makes changing lenses much easier. When we move to the next part of the wedding day – the ceremony or reception – I can put away the lenses I no longer need and stick my flash in the Shootsac, or different lenses. It also holds my water bottle, my almonds, and my iPhone. If I didn’t have my Shootsac, I’d have to go back to my Think Tank every time I needed a different piece of equipment, so it saves me a ton of time. Plus, it’s lightweight and doesn’t break my back like a lot of bags do.
8. Lexar Professional CF Cards (and lots of them) – I swear by Lexar cards and (knocking on so much wood) have never had a problem with one. I use 8GB cards, and I really don’t think you should ever shoot with anything higher. If something happens and you lose 8GB worth of photos, that’s a lot easier to handle than losing 16 or 32GB of photos. (Some people only use 4GB and think 8GB is even too high, but I shoot RAW, and I feel like I’d have to change my card every 15 minutes if I only shot 4GB.) For an elopement, I usually only need three or four cards, but for a wedding day, I need to make sure I have at least ten to twelve. As soon as I get home, I back everything up on my external harddrive with my Lexar card reader.
9. WATER! – This seems obvious, but it’s clearly not, judging from the amount of people I’ve seen get dehydrated at weddings. I always remind my couples to drink lots and lots of water, and I make sure I follow my own advice. It’s hot, I’m running around carrying heavy gear, it would be really easy to forget to stay hydrated. Always bring your own water bottle, because you definitely can’t count on venues to have bottles of water available for the vendors in my experience.
10. Sunscreen – I have pale, Irish skin, so I use Coppertone Sport SPF 50. Whatever SPF you use, please make sure you get one that protects against the full spectrum – UVA and UVB rays. Even if it’s going to be cloudy or you think you’ll mostly be inside all day, don’t forget to apply sunscreen before you leave your house. It’s just not worth the risk of getting burned. (Not to mention, it’s not worth the risk of getting skin cancer. Or if skin cancer doesn’t scare you, let me appeal to your vanity: sunburns = wrinkles.) I also bring the sunblock with me, and if I there’s a lull and I have a second, I try to make sure I reapply it after a few hours. If you want a tan, get a spray on one, but I don’t think the sun is your friend. Making everyone wear sunscreen all the time is seriously one of my missions in life. As a teenager I worked at a salon that had tanning booths, and I have seen some things.
So those are my wedding season must-haves! And now I’m ready to get out there this weekend and make some amazing art!