How I became a Wedding Photographer.

October 26, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

 As many of you know, I became a photographer to document my love of cars.  And, for a very long period of time, I exclusively shot automotive photography.  Wedding photography had always been something that I shy'ed away from.  Mostly due to the pressure associated with being a primary photographer for a wedding.  While I would've loved to slowly slip into wedding photography by 2nd shooting, the option didn't exist.  I didn't know anyone that was currently a wedding photographer who I could 2nd shoot for and had no wedding experience.  2nd shooting is a great way to learn, but at the end of the day you still need some experience to approach a primary photographer when requesting a 2nd shooter position.  

So into the fire we go!  A friend of mine called me on a Thursday afternoon.  

   "Justin!  Hi, It's Gabe Ortega.  So, I know this is last minute, but I'm the best man for a wedding on Saturday.  Unfortunately the photographer just canceled!  Are you available?  Don't worry, there's no pressure because we have no one at this point."

I want to go on the record and say that Gabe lied.  Of course it was unintentional, but he was 100% incorrect when he said it was "no pressure".  I've never been more nervous in my entire life. Right before the wedding started, my palms were sweating, my heart was racing, and my stomach was in my throat.  I was the only person there on that day to document this couples wedding (both of which were complete strangers to me).  

As soon as I lifted the camera to look through the view finder, all of that pressure turned to adrenaline.  I went into a sort of idiot savant state and simply did my job.  Quietly walking around the ceremony taking photos of absolutely everything!  I had a mental checklist of what I wanted to capture and regardless of how quickly the ceremony started and was over, I didn't miss a thing.  After the reception, I walked out holding my head high.  I knew that I did a great job and that I wanted to shoot more weddings moving forward.  It turns out that someone else also thought I did a great job because I received an inquiry and booked another wedding just a few short months later!

 Looking back, I'm so glad I took a chance and accepted the job. Without it, I would probably still be shooting cars/motorsports (exclusively) and "shying away" from wedding work.  I will always love shooting cars but weddings fill a void that automotive photography doesn't.  Instead of simply making art, I'm documenting memories and I love every minute of it!


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