Expectation vs Preparation
Alright so, expectation versus preparation, two similar concepts, but that are extremely different.
We try to go into every wedding without expectations. Something that we've learned over the years, a little bit the hard way. We'll tell you the story about this one wedding that we photographed in Bhutan, which from Montreal is pretty much as far as you can travel. There are only six pilots in the world who are licensed to land in Bhutan, so it kinda tells you about how remote that is.
Have you heard of Bhutan? (audience murmurs) A few of you, okay. I hadn't heard about it before, yeah. I was looking on the map, and just like wow this is far and remote.
Obviously, we booked this wedding and the expectation is my god this is gonna be epic, we are so excited to go there, this is going to be a portfolio worthy wedding. We were setting the expectation so high, that we basically made it impossible for us to be happy. Once we arrived there, we flew in with the bride and groom,...
this is sort of our experience coming right off the plane, we're trying to set the scene and show the bride in the context of coming off the plane, she's staring at the camera doing peace signs, we're like oh my God this is not...
Not what I had in mind, yeah, because our expectation, flying with the bride and groom, amazing, pictures on the plane, them getting off the plane, we were preshooting this wedding in our minds, but without having even talked to them about all of this stuff. We just assumed that things were gonna happen a certain way. Every picture that we took that morning, on the plane and all this was this, not what we had in mind.
Yeah, And then, on their first night they had sort of this ceremony around a fire, to kind a start the celebrations and I joke you not, every single guest there was taking photos. There's nothing else to photograph, we're trying to document what's going on, and this is all that's happening, for two hours.
We're really not exaggerating guys, every single guest had a camera that they were using either on themselves or on something else, so this is it.
You know, an hour goes by, we're like no they're gonna stop taking photos at some point, and another hour goes by, okay this is really happening, we flew all the way here, we're not gonna get anything.
I'm usually the one that freaks out, actually.
Yeah, but this time I'm the one that started freaking out. (audience laughs)
But, Daniel was freaking out, actually.
Yeah and we went to this town, and what do we do? Do we tell the bride and groom, but now it's a little bit awkward, because we're in the wedding.
And now, it's like a reprimand, you guys are wedding-ing wrong, you're doing your wedding wrong. Which, ahead of time is not awkward, but in the moment, you're like, you guys suck right now. (laughs)
And so, we have a little pow-wow about it, we left the whole thing a little bit unsure about what to do. Davina goes to the bathroom, and I had a split-second of courage, and I decided to act on it. I went to the bride and groom, and I was like guys, we need to chat.
We need to talk.
I know this is a little bit awkward, but all of your guests, they're taking photos right now. It doesn't leave us anything to document. We wanna photograph the people enjoying the wedding, rather than taking photos, is there anyway that you can tell them that we're there to take the photos? We're gonna share them with everybody, they'll be able to see them, they'll have the final images. It's really gonna make for a better experience. They're from Taiwan, they spoke English, but not super well, they're just nodding along and not saying anything. I have no clue if they're mad at me, or if they agree with me.
They hate you.
Yeah, no clue whatsoever. And then, the next morning, I wake up and I still felt horrible about how this wedding day was gonna go. My expectation went from this is gonna be amazing, all the way to the other end of the spectrum, this is gonna be awful, this is gonna be the worst day, the worst wedding we've ever photographed.
Enter Davina, who gives me one of the best...
Pep talks, she's ever given me.
She's like, you know what, we haven't photographed this wedding, you are setting this expectation negatively, but nothing has happened yet. It's all for the taking, just go in, hit the reset, and let things be the way that they are. It worked, it refocused me, and really gave me a reset on my approach. In the meantime, the bride and groom, they ended up talking to all of their guests, and they took out a basket for the ceremony, that confiscated everybody's cameras. It resulted in this, the groom walking down the aisle, and everybody stood up, and started cheering, and applauding him.
Except for the one girl with the iPad. (audience laughs) At least she sat down, she knew she was breaking the rules.
But, it did make a difference.
Yeah, they we're present, and everybody was present, and woo, managed to resolve that situation.
It was one of our best weddings, I think at the time it was probably like portfolio wise, excellent for us, and there were so much emotion, even though we couldn't understand what was happening, 'cause everything was in Mandarin, tears and just great moments. It ended up being just a terrific wedding that we really enjoyed, but resetting our own expectations. We we're very aware of how we had set ourselves up for disaster, and also not communicated with our client.
Yeah, if the expectation's super high and you expect great things, even if it's really good, you're still not gonna go all the way to what your expectations are. It's really important to go in with no expectations, so that anything that you photograph, anything that you capture, well it's a good thing.
But, you do wanna go in prepared, so preparation is important, We talked about the meeting with the clients and setting the tone and all this sort of stuff. For us, we feel a lot more comfortable if we have a feel for the venue, we like to go to the rehearsal if there is one, or just know where things are happening. Just kinda scout things out, but remember no expectations, so even if we scout something out and were like oh this shot could be amazing, things can change. The light can change, they can set up a weird table that blocks your view, there's so much that can change. I'm sure we've all been there, where you scout out a certain spot, you're super excited, and then the lights hitting all weird, or it's not sunny, it's actually overcast, we've dealt with this a lot. Preparation, but with the idea that things can change.
We're back in Mexico, in San Miguel de Allende, for Sarah and Aaron's wedding. This is us just preparing for their ceremony. We're checking things out, finding the rooftops, finding out where the good views are, and then deciding at what point which one of us is gonna go and get a photo from there.
They had talked about the view of the town, from the rooftop, and I was like hmmm, you know how views are, yeah it's there, you can see it, but in photos it doesn't always really translate like that. I was trying to deliberately find a spot where I could actually integrate that view into the ceremony, which is a little hard to do 'cause of the vantage point.
Same thing, a few hours later.
This is during the ceremony, the lighting has changed, which is fine, no big deal, it's overcast. Davina and I decided that she was the one who was gonna go up really near the end of the reception.
I mean, I usually win that battle.
Sorry, near the end of the ceremony, (laughs)
I assert myself, I'm going up. (laughs)
This is the first rooftop, so the view is decent, but she's not getting so much of the town. In a second, woop, super fast.
Look how fast I am. (laughs) (audience laughs) It's a little Blair Witch Project, sorry. (laughs)
But then, ah, look at that view, still that same angle from above, but the view is way different. She's gonna go on the other side of the plant, there you go, just to get a little bit more, and then final photo. This is about being prepared in the moment. The morning of we checked things out, establish a plan, and then execute it when the time comes. It makes for such a less stressful work environment, when you know exactly what you're going to be doing.
On a side note, I really like giving something like this to the clients, because this is not what it looked like down below, right? They set up their ceremony here, but I get to show them something outside of their ceremony. I like being able to do this kind of image for my clients.
Another wedding, in LA, checking out where the good light is, knowing that the bride and groom, at some point, are gonna walk through there, so when it happens it's not stressful, we're not reacting. We get into position, they walk through the light, we know what the framing looks like, what the exposure's like, click, transition photo, done.
By the way, I wear the same thing to every single wedding and it's that green jumpsuit that you see in that person's photo. (laughs) I did the two brothers, this guy and then a few months later his brother, and I was like oh, everyone's seeing me in the same outfit. I'm comfortable and happy in that outfit. (laughs)
Again, see something interesting, so mirrors, interesting little vignette in the venue where the bride is getting ready. Test photo with Davina.
Looking super happy.
And then, final photo with the bride.
That was actually the day before, when we had gone to scope things out, hence my casual gray t-shirt.
During the ceremony, so we arrive ahead of time, scope things out. In terms of timeline, before we go and start photographing the day and everybody getting ready, we'll go and try to check out the venue, so an hour or two before, We put it in that time and do our homework, so that when we do arrive at the ceremony it's not overwhelming for us and we know what everything looks like. Here, this is what it looks like in general, but then we notice all of the candles on the ground with the vases, so that peaks our curiosity. And then, we see how that aligns with the processional. We know that the bride and her dad are gonna walk through there. That's our getting ready photo, and then the bride walks through. It's the same photo, I've already taken the photo before, I know what my exposure's like, I know what settings, when I need to be ready, at what point that's gonna happen, get into position and photograph it.
We're gonna talk a lot about mental state, when we shoot a wedding, but what's important about stuff like this, so when you prepare yourself, is don't beat yourself up when it doesn't work out. I'm saying it to you, because I have to say it to myself. (laughs) I'm really the one that needs to hear this. Even though I know this, I still do it all the time, it's just like, oh that shot didn't work out, and would of been so great. The idea is, you keep doing this and good stuff will come out of it, just not every time. You win some and you lose some, and you have to kind of accept that.
Yeah, and again, if you expect this kind of photo from the wedding, you're only setting yourself up for disappointment, but do arrive with no expectations, prepare with what's available to you, and then execute your photos. Really the difference between expectation and preparation.