End of my wedding season / some observations

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Well, my 2013 wedding season ended on Saturday.

It began on March 2, 2013 at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Park Ridge, N.J. and ended nine months later at the exact same church, on Nov. 16, 2013. Which is odd considering Park Ridge is a good 50 miles from my base of operations in upstate N.Y.

In between, I shot 29 weddings for the rich and the poor. So here are some totally unscientific and random observations at the end of my 40th year of shooting nuptials:

1) Bookings for second marriages were way up. I would guess one-third of my bookings in 2013 were from "second-time around" couples. Previously, these were small and quiet affairs. But not this year. Not for me, anyway.

2) "Uncle Bob's" with their DSLR kits disappeared from the scene about four years ago only to be replaced by "Aunt Mary's" with their point-and-shoots. But this year it was all smart phones all the time. Which was fine with me because not a single one of those smart phones produced one acceptable image. I know, because I can see the results on the Facebook pages of my brides. (The competition just vanished!)

3) There seems to be a return towards older style music from the 70's and 80's at weddings today. Either that or today's music just doesn't translate well for weddings. One or the other. But Journey was very popular around here.

4) Tattoos and cigarette smoking are everywhere at the lower-end weddings. At the higher-end weddings, no tattoos, very little smoking.

5) Parents are paying for the photography services more than ever. Which creates a disconnect between the couples getting married and their parents when it comes expectations. The couples want unposed photos of them having fun with their friends. But the parents expect table shots and everybody staring straight at the camera. (That's what the parents got at their wedding 30 years ago.) So I shoot both to keep everyone happy. Except when the floral centerpiece is taller than four feet. That kills the table shots.

6) I got heckled for the first time in 40 years! Some drunk dude kept yelling at me: "Instagram is going to kill your business, man." (Idiot must've been from the Fred Miranda website, I'm thinking.) Sheesh.

7) The priests and ministers were much friendlier this year. I'm guessing that after years of dealing with amateur photographers, they are happy when a familiar face walks in.

8) There is no better combination than two D700's with a pair of SB-900's attached to two power packs for weddings. (Although a pair of D3's or D4's would be just as good, I think.) With higher ISO's I only have to change batteries once during an 8-hour shoot. I did buy a D7100 halfway through the year when I needed emergency hot-shoe repairs to the D700's. But the poor thing just couldn't keep up. It was slow. It was loud. Its files were mushy. So I sold it.

9) Bands are rapidly replacing DJ's at the higher-end receptions. Some of them are quite good.

10 My equipment took a tremendous beating in 2013. Lots of banging lenses against door frames, scraped flash units, spilled drinks, etc. I even had a grandma sit on a camera when I was shooting the bride getting ready. (Good thing she was a tiny little thing.)

11) DVD's are dead as a delivery system for digital files. Flash USB drives are the way to go.

12) Venues have tightened up on their insurance regulations quite a bit. Most all of the big places wanted proof of liability faxed months before. Those numbers were up significantly this year. And I suppose, in retrospect, that's not at all surprising.

13) Cellphone texting is completely out of control among young females. You would think paying attention and keeping your head out of the phone for a short 20-minute ceremony would be simple and easy. You would be wrong. (It's almost an addiction in that age group.) So I started photographing people who were texting during the ceremony and including those shots in the delivery - just so the couples could see who the rude guests were.

14) The strapless gown era is beginning to fade away.

15) If I hear the Macarena one more time... Wait. How many weeks until March, 2014?
 
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McQ

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Really interesting, John. And it seems that most of it bodes well for the well-prepared, professional wedding photographers. That's good news for sure. Funny how smart phones now interrupt and distract from pretty much every part of life. You'd think that in a wedding, a hopefully joyous, important event, people would just turn the stupid things off. Sigh.

Love the heckler's take on things! What a dope. But maybe you should get an Instagram account just in case! :roll eyes:

Congrats on 40 years, by the way!
 
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...

3) There seems to be a return towards older style music from the 70's and 80's at weddings today. Either that or today's music just doesn't translate well for weddings. One or the other. But Journey was very popular around here.
..
9) Bands are rapidly replacing DJ's at the higher-end receptions. Some of them are quite good.
...
13) Cellphone texting is completely out of control among young females. You would think paying attention and keeping your head out of the phone for a short 20-minute ceremony would be simple and easy. You would be wrong. (It's almost an addiction in that age group.)
3. Seems to be spreading. I went to LL Bean at the largest regional fashion mall in Northern VA shopping for mens' shirts. I thought "the 1970's called and they wan their shirts back." All we need now are double knit trousers and sport jackets. :rolleyes:

9. We're celebrating out 50th wedding anniversary next June. We're looking for an oldies DJ. Carolyn and I met at a 1960 gymnasium 'sock hop.'

13. Sadly the attention span of young people grows shorter and shorter. There must be constant stimulation or they freak out. The mantra is 'multitasking' which in reality is doing more than one thing at a time...badly. The smartphone is an adult (and teenage) pacifier. :biggrin:
 
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LOL. Well I gave it up in 2007. Too many wannabes and after relocating to my new retirement town, after a few years it was time to hang it up. Be happy the parents are paying, otherwise the Cell phone and Point & Shoot images can be just fine at times. I do however miss them at times. It did get me retired at 48. People all dressed up, the good food. The last few I did had Smoked Pig and Chicken Wings for dinner. How can you go wrong. :biggrin:
 

McQ

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3. Seems to be spreading. I went to LL Bean at the largest regional fashion mall in Northern VA shopping for mens' shirts. I thought "the 1970's called and they wan their shirts back." All we need now are double knit trousers and sport jackets. :rolleyes:

9. We're celebrating out 50th wedding anniversary next June. We're looking for an oldies DJ. Carolyn and I met at a 1960 gymnasium 'sock hop.'

13. Sadly the attention span of young people grows shorter and shorter. There must be constant stimulation or they freak out. The mantra is 'multitasking' which in reality is doing more than one thing at a time...badly. The smartphone is an adult (and teenage) pacifier. :biggrin:
+1 to your #13, Rich. And how many can have the honor of celebrating 50 years together? My heartfelt, if premature, congratulations!
 
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LOL. Well I gave it up in 2007. Too many wannabes and after relocating to my new retirement town, after a few years it was time to hang it up.
Yeah, Flash I hear ya on the wannabes. It's part of a general trend these days where young people think technology trumps knowledge.

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked "what settings do you use for weddings?" My answer: "All of 'em."

Or this: "I'm a professional photographer just starting out..." Me: "Well, than if you are just starting out, you couldn't possibly be a professional..."

Congrats on the retirement. I've got 3 years, 3 months to go. (But really. Who's counting?)
 
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Kudos to you for keeping fresh all these years. A real pro. Interesting observations. I shot weddings full time for about seven years in the late 90's early 2000's and things have indeed changed. I only shoot a few weddings a year theses days mostly because I really enjoy that kind of work.
 
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Yeah, Flash I hear ya on the wannabes. It's part of a general trend these days where young people think technology trumps knowledge.

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked "what settings do you use for weddings?" My answer: "All of 'em."

Or this: "I'm a professional photographer just starting out..." Me: "Well, than if you are just starting out, you couldn't possibly be a professional..."

Congrats on the retirement. I've got 3 years, 3 months to go. (But really. Who's counting?)
One of my former Brides (Military) ended up in Hawaii. Out of the service now she decided to start her own Photography Biz. Daddy whipped up a website for her and since I knew her since she was young, Mom had told her to querry me with any questions. I looked at her first attempt put up on her Website and found them grossly over-exposed. I told her she needed to look at her LCD and also the Histogram. Her response was "LCD, what's that. What's a Histogram?" She also wanted to know how to make the background of her photos "fuzzy looking". Pretty much I am at the point of just smiling and nodding my head. She has gotten better, but to call themselves Professionals, just cause they have a Camera and a Website...... :rolleyes:
 
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Russ

Well, here is another one:

A while back a woman calls me and insists I should hire her at my newspaper because "I have a great camera and it takes great pictures!"

I told her several times it wasn't the camera that takes great pictures but, rather, the photographer - but, she wouldn't hear of it. So after several attempts I finally said "OK, what kind of camera is it?"

"Oh, I don't know. It's a Japanese camera," she replied. "I think it's a Kawasaki."

"Ma'am," I said. "That's a motorcycle."

I gently returned the phone receiver to its cradle and never heard from her again.
 
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9. We're celebrating out 50th wedding anniversary next June. We're looking for an oldies DJ. Carolyn and I met at a 1960 gymnasium 'sock hop.'
Big congratulations to you and the Mrs, Rich. My wife's uncle is the drummer in The Hubcaps. I have no idea how much they would charge. It could be way more than one would want to pay for a private, personal party. Just letting you know they exist.
 
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Russ

Well, here is another one:

A while back a woman calls me and insists I should hire her at my newspaper because "I have a great camera and it takes great pictures!"

I told her several times it wasn't the camera that takes great pictures but, rather, the photographer - but, she wouldn't hear of it. So after several attempts I finally said "OK, what kind of camera is it?"

"Oh, I don't know. It's a Japanese camera," she replied. "I think it's a Kawasaki."

"Ma'am," I said. "That's a motorcycle."

I gently returned the phone receiver to its cradle and never heard from her again.
Amazing! :eek:
 
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Wedding Suprise

My Best Wedding story of 2013. Shot a wedding in August - Mother of Groom had two sons and I was hired to shoot the first wedding - Was not hired to shoot the next son's wedding in October - She told me this Son's best friend was a really good photographer and he was going to shoot it for free. She told me a couple of weeks ago that her son and best friend had a huge argument and he refused to give them the images and he was going to delete them. So much for a good friend.
 
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I was doing Southern Asian Hindu weddings for the last few years for a few different studios. These events can go on for three days so they need photographers. Sometimes, there are two sets of photogs and video people hired. Each side of the family hires them. Problem is that this is a different culture and they have strange customs and their own predjudices. They are here in America but are holding onto their customs. Of course, a studio would rather throw me under the bus than themselves. I am only doing these weddings for myself in the future, if I do them at all.
 
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John, I agree on almost all the fronts. My average wedding budget is in the $3k range (sometimes as little as $2,100, and sometimes as much as $5,200), and with the exception of bands over DJ's (I've only seen a few live bands in my 3-4 years of shooting weddings), it's all true.

I now take photos of people with phones and iPads. I am aggressive with my gear that used to be "my babies". But after 3-4 years, I still love it. And after 40 years, I'm so happy to see that you, too, still love it!
 
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As a pro just starting out I just wanted to ask what settings do you use? noooooooooo, sorry only joking, but seriously (or maybe not) do you think that in the next 3 years before you retire you will see a bride or groom using their smartphones during the wedding or even one of them wearing Google Glass during the ceremony? We can't be too far off I reckon !
 
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My guess, Rob, is that it's probably already happened - and will continue to happen.

(But I always tell folks the same thing: Don't believe anything you see on the Internet.)
 
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Richard Jones

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AAAAHHHHHH *%(%(&^)(*^)*_^!!!! Why I hated shooting weddings, did it for twenty years too long., which is probably why I was not that good at it. BTW enjoyed your observations John.
 
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I was recently asked to be a part of my best friends wedding. A small wedding with just a few family and friends at the ceremony. I was not the photographer (thank goodness). Right before the ceremony the bride and groom had a "secret" song they wanted played for her walk down the aisle. It was on her cell phone... I could see the look of terror in the brides eyes as she had to give up her phone for the next hour so the sound person could make sure everything worked in the church's sound system. Sadly, I was actually impressed that no cell phones went off during the actual ceremony.
 
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