This morning I awoke from another wedding nightmare. Perhaps brides have nightmares about dress malfunctions and grooms dream that they are losing their freedom, but wedding photographers have dreams of equipment malfunction – which is the worst thing that can happen to a photographer.
I’ll set up the dream: It’s a balmy summer afternoon and I photograph a vivacious blonde bride and her robust, biker groom at a church that doesn’t exist. Everything goes well. Then we all climb into automobiles and travel to the reception location. When we arrive it’s much darker (perhaps evening or night) and time passes quickly. Everyone is seated around a big table (including myself, which I would never do in real life) and we’re imbibing and eating and having a great time. As the meal is finished the groom stands and announces that he and his bride will soon make their grand exit and everyone prepares. I panic. I realize that during all the fun and excitement I’ve forgotten that I’m the official photographer for the event and my batteries are not charged. I quickly load my flash with 4 AA batteries, but to no avail – They’re dead. The room is dimly lit and the shutter won’t move in such a dark environment, at least not without a tripod -which is akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight!
As the menacing groom escorts his bride out he gives me a menacing look, as if to say, “I know your batteries are dead because your flash is not popping”!
….and then I am awake and wondering why I’m having a nightmare about something that has never happened and will never happen. But how can I be sure this bad situation will never come to pass? Preparation – it’s the only way to fly.
The day before a big event, like a wedding, I charge up dozens of batteries for my cameras, flashes and other equipment. I follow a check list for everything I do, kind of like a pilot or an astronaut would follow a mission checklist when they prepare to fly an aircraft. 1. Do this. Check. 2. Do that. Check… You get the idea.
Having photographed dozens of weddings, I’ve never had a major incident like what happened in my nightmare. Some people might say that I’ve been lucky. When I was in high school one of my athletic coaches, a gruff, stocky old man who played NFL Football before the use of helmets (that’s my theory anyway) used to say that luck was when “preparation meets opportunity.” I like to think that he was 100% correct. That’s why I use a checklist to prepare for weddings. Besides, I can’t afford to just be lucky. I have to take every step possible to make sure that I am prepared to capture every great moment from a wedding, quickly and seamlessly.