Hi there!

I'm trying to get back into officially blogging weekly so I hope you guys are so excited to see some of my new long form content. I wanted to talk ALL THINGS museum weddings!!! Personally, I don't shoot a lot of weddings because I don't feel that's where I find my joy compared to other things I shoot. However, I will always make the exception when it comes to my family and close friends, and this was one of them! When my friend Macey reached out to me asking if I was available mid-June, I rushed to check my calendar. I have to say the universe was definitely on my side with this one because I was already planning a trip back to Houston to see my mom over that weekend since it was a long weekend and we had Monday off of work. It definitely felt like divine timing to be available.

First, let's talk money - I don't want to be shy or conservative about what I charge as I feel transparency is important. Since I don't shoot weddings frequently, I tend to not charge extremely high prices for weddings, it usually depends on the number of hours I'm needed (I charge $100/hour) and then I add an admin fee of $150 to cover all my basic expenses which is included in all my regular packages. Now you may be wondering, "That's way too cheap!" or "You're not charging enough!" I will say this - you are probably right. But I don't feel like it's too little because I charge event/wedding coverage based on my experience and I simply do not shoot enough weddings or events to justify higher prices, so I charge what's fair. I increase my prices every year and I stick with them through the end of the year, so every year around the fall, I reevaluate what I've shot and worked on during the year, how much time and care I'm taking and putting into my photos in order to justify my prices. My pricing will definitely be going up significantly more next year because I've been spending more time than before putting into my post-production process.

Second, it was planning time. Macey and I definitely got on a few calls to go over the timeline for the day and her overall vision for her wedding day. The beauty of picking a setting like a museum is that the backdrop and aesthetic is just given to you. However, I do wish that the museum had more photos of weddings shot in their spaces so I could get a better visualization of how everything would look. Coming from out of town, I wasn't able to come in and do the walkthrough the day before so that's definitely on me, but that's one thing I would recommend communicating with your Bride and Groom (and their wedding coordinator/planner!) about beforehand. I liked being on an email thread with all the vendors for the day of so I could contact anyone I needed. One of the biggest things that made me nervous was lighting. Shooting in a hotel and museum definitely had a downside because you lose all that natural light that you get outdoors, but the big deal about the museum was not being able to use a flash at all indoors, but being able to use any off-camera/handheld lighting (we'll circle back to this when it comes to the gear).

The important part was the shot list - I made sure to obtain a list of all the different shots needed especially for the family and wedding party. When you initially think of family photos, you think it will be easy, but having a physical shot list to identify all the groups helps visualize how many individual groups you have and how quickly you need to move on the day of. The schedule was the next big thing I had to be concerned with. I needed to know the order of events and how to place everything so we knew when what was taking place, and also how to reorganize if something went wrong - because something always does, without fail. I was grateful Macey was a friend and felt comfortable telling me exactly what she needed, and I love that one of the reasons she asked for me is because she knew she would be stressed and having a photographer she knew and trusted was one thing she didn't have to stress about.

Third, let's talk gear! I primarily shoot with a Canon R5 + Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens (with an EF to RF adapter). This is my go-to setup - but remember, I usually shoot portraits. To maximize my flexibility in shooting the wedding I decided to bring a Sigma 28-70mm 2.8 lens and a Canon 85mm 1.4 lens. I also brought my Canon R6 body as a backup. For film I shot on a Canon EOS 620 and it uses EF lenses so I didn't need an entire extra set of lenses for my camera. (I actually like my Canon EOS 650 more but it's been causing some light leaks and it needs a thicker light seal foam on the door so I'm fixing it soon). As for the film rolls, I brought Kodak Portra 400 and 800 - and I later edited the photos into B+W.

I did end up bringing a flash for the exit at the end of the wedding - I brought my Godox V1-C flash with a MagMod MagSphere diffuser. For the off-camera lighting, I had to get creative. I love LED light panels for shooting at home because I live in an apartment so there's not exactly room for any soft boxes, umbrellas, or strobes. So I got a a Lume Cube RGB Panel, and then I got 2 cheaper LED panels. I only got one at first but I panic bought the extra two because I was worried that my first one would run out of battery and I wouldn't have any backups. I also ended up getting the COIRO Dual Camera Harness so I could shoot both digital and film at the same time. All my gear would have fit into my now new camera backpack - I currently use a Langly Sierra Camera Backpack in Dew. But it hadn't arrived by the time I was packing up to leave for the wedding so I packed most of it into my Brevite Runner Camera Backpack in Pine Green and the rest of it fit into my old Canon EOS Rebel camera bag. I also carried around my Dagne Dover Mara Phone Sling on my person with anything I needed to access quickly like film, batteries, and SD cards.

At this point you're probably wondering how it all went and what my thoughts are on how I did...I'm getting there I promise. The wedding itself was so gorgeous and so well coordinated. The wedding coordinators they hired did such an amazing job - absolute kudos to them. The day was long and my feet were absolutely dead by the end of the night but I definitely did my best to capture everything I could possibly get for them.

Overall, I think I did a great job, and I hope I delivered the vision for Macey and Dylan. With every wedding and event I shoot, I try to make sure I learn something from it for the next time I manage to shoot another one like this. One of the first things I regretted not capturing was getting ready photos of the groomsmen and the groom. I know this was one of the big pieces I missed out on and I absolutely beat myself up over it. When I was shooting the bridesmaids and bride getting ready, I was informed that the men were not getting ready yet. So by the time came and I was done with the women, I was told that the men were already ready. What I should have done was ran over there to get a quick ten minutes of them "getting ready" but my mind completely was racing and all I could think was "Okay what's next?" I wish I had slowed down a lot more instead of being anxious to capture a big wedding like this.

A lot of my other struggles came from post-production. Culling the entire wedding was an absolute beast, I totally understand why a lot of wedding photographers use a culling software to sort through and get the best and sharpest photos. I decided to stick with my normal process of manually culling through the photos - and there was 8000 of them total. I shot on several 128GB SD cards and it even took forever to back them up onto my hard drive. My biggest recommendation for anyone who is planning to go into wedding photography is definitely to get a culling software and make sure that's added to your fees because that can go a long way. I culled everything in little sections - getting ready, pre-ceremony portraits, ceremony, post-ceremony portraits, dinner, and receptions. Sectioning them off definitely helped but it took a good amount of time to cull. My other big thing was the lighting, now while I did attempt to use the LED light panel, I'll be honest, I did not love it. I felt as though maybe I needed two of them at the same time in order to make the lighting even, or maybe I needed more practice shooting using them with other subjects. Usually when I use LED panels, I'm self shooting portraits and I'm pretty good at adjusting them myself. When I was taking the groomsmen photos inside the hotel, I should have taken out my flash and diffuser and shot them that way but instead I used the LED panel and I still felt like I had to crank my ISO up. For the ceremony and everything else after, I basically decided to crank my ISO up for almost all the photos and deal with it in the editing process. The nice part is most of them were able to be saved with the new denoise feature in Lightroom Classic. The only part of the day I used my flash for was for the exit. So if you're asking me what I would have done differently, I would have probably tried to shoot at a smaller aperture so I could lower my ISO a little more. However, working with larger groups meant I needed to keep my aperture wider so it was a constant struggle of what was I willing to give up.

I feel like this was such a fun and heartwarming experience to be able to shoot for a close friend and I'm so happy that they trusted me to do this for them. I know I will forever cherish this. I'm also incredibly grateful to be able to learn so much from this beautiful day and I took away so much that I will definitely remember for the next time. Talk to you all soon!