Elation. The emotion that rushed through my veins when I got the “yes, we want to fly you to Jamaica in the dead of winter” email from Alan & Ashley.
Preparing to photograph a wedding out of town is never stress-free. Back in 2012 we photographed Melissa and Johnathan in Maryland and the following day we went to the Redskins/Panthers game…. I was too terrified to leave the memory cards in the car, so I loaded up my pockets with all of them and took them in the game with me. Now imagine flying to a remote island with thousands in equipment. Providing memories of a wedding with only 8 other guests, and no “uncle Bob” with his own DSLR can be
a little a lot intimidating. Theoretically, this same issue is present at every wedding I photograph, but face it… there’s usually 10-20 people behind me, following me to get their own copy of my shot. Not in this time. Since our laptop was stolen 2 years ago, we haven’t replaced it, and our iPad doesn’t have the space to hold gigs of images… so how did I cope with my fears of image back-up? I rented a D750 through Lens rentals. It’s the camera I hope to upgrade to at some point this year and knew it carried some features that would prove useful on this trip. It has dual card slots, so I can write to both cards all day, making an immediate back-up (we separated the cards when we packed up to fly home). It also carries wifi which means I can turn on the camera’s wifi and remotely transfer images via the Nikon app. As soon as the wedding concluded we went back to our room and backed up about 1/4 of the photos on my phone and then uploaded them directly to dropbox….. this way, juuuuuust in case something crazy happened and our memory cards landed in the bottom of the sea, there was something I could deliver to the couple. (Note: the files I transferred this way were just small jpgs, not full raw files…. but hey, better than nothing!)
On flying…. when I quoted Ashley & Alan I did Thursday-Sunday travel. I was terrified something would go wrong with my flight and I would be delayed. While that didn’t happen to us, it did happen to Alan’s family who was supposed to arrive on Wednesday, and didn’t make it til Thursday…. what did happen to us? I read our arrival time and thought it was our departure time. We arrived at our gate to find our flight had left. Thank God for awesome US Air gate agents who put us on the flight 45 minutes later!! We made our connection! So many uncontrollable variables when flying!
On packing…. I don’t like to check luggage. Ever. Never ever. Ever. Did I say ever? I mean EVVVVVER! I also didn’t want to send off red flags to anyone around us that we had about $10,000 in equipment in our bags… so shortly after we got booked for the wedding, I purchased this camera bag. I’s not pretty, but it works great. To me, it said “I’m a tourist, not here to photograph a wedding, nope, not me!” Inside went the D750, 85mm, 50mm, 50mm macro and one flash along with batteries, triggers, and memory cards (as well as my phone, socks, chap-stick, passport, ect. My suitcase held my Bronica (film camera) and Jeremy had the D700, 70-200, 35mm, umbrella and another flash loaded between his backpack and suitcase. Do we normally carry more? Of course. Normally there are light stands and monopods and video lights… but we had to think simple.
My only true fear was that someone at Sandals would be nasty to us. Alan & Ashley cleared it with their planner to have a “family friend” do photos (which was not a lie!) but I was still nervous. Thankfully, their coordinator was pretty cordial. Our only issue was that she seemed to want to rush us, and the video guy (who was very nice) stood in the tiny aisle the entire time, eliminating the opportunity for me to really get a straight on shot. He (as well as the coordinator and another helper) are all in every wide shot we did.
So… a little advice from what we experienced…. request that all Sandals staff stand far back. This isn’t such a big deal if you’re on the beach, but the narrow piers make it really impersonal to have them hovering over you. Look into getting your own flowers…. Ashley spent a pretty penny on her and her sisters bouquets, they should have been 2-3X bigger for what they paid. I’m sure they have other “I’d do this different” things… but those are just 2 we witnessed.
Now we are back home, back to the 9-5 and recounting the days we had on the sand….. would I do it again? YES! Someone else please send us to the land of tropical flowers, palm trees, teal water and sunshine!
Ashley & Alan have requested all images be kept secret until after their big reception back here this weekend (which we will be attending & photographing too!)…. so next Monday you’ll get a peek at their tropical nuptials!