The Wedding Guest / by Michael Jin

©2018 Michael Jin.

I just attended a wedding and I was torn about whether or not to bring my camera with me. Maybe some of you can relate, but I carry one of my cameras everywhere and I feel a bit naked leaving the house without one at this point. Despite this, it also feels odd to go to an event like this basically looking like a photojournalist when I wasn't hired to photograph the event. I don't want to be stepping on toes or drawing unnecessary attention to myself and showing up with camera gear tends to run counter to that. I guess this is where a good compact camera would come into play, but not having one, I was faced with just going bare and enjoying the wedding as a guest or showing up with my DSLR at my side and possibly looking like a crazy person.

For those that know me well enough—and to the protests of my dear wife—I obviously chose the route of showing up looking like a crazy person with my DSLR, my trio of prime lenses (28, 58, and 105), and a speedlight. Yeah, I know I'm not the wedding photographer and I certainly don't have any delusions of grandeur. I have absolutely no experience photographing events of any sort so I knew right off the bat that I didn't want to get in the way of the professionals that were doing their job. So why bring my camera? What was I trying to capture?

I decided that I wanted to just capture the wedding the way I experienced it. If only not to embarrass my wife, that meant that I would stay seated when everyone else was seated and get up when everyone else got up. I wasn't going to buzz around like a fly trying to get a good angle or lean into the aisles and draw the ire of the wedding photographers. While I will obviously share my photos with my friends who got married, I wanted to make my photography about my own memories as a guest attending the wedding.

I won't say that it was the most successful effort and my inexperience shooting live events in such spaces really showed. Even though I brought my flash, I forgot to bring my gels, which meant that my color temperatures were all screwed up and since I didn't want to be drawing too much attention to myself, I found myself keeping the flash inside my bag for the most part, which meant that I had to crank my ISO rather high. In the end, I converted the images to black and white to create a more natural looking result that I think offset these shortcomings, but the entire experience was one that I found valuable.

My hats off to the photographers that were shooting this wedding and wedding photographers everywhere. It was a pleasure to see them going through their paces completely unfazed by conditions that I personally found really daunting. I can't wait to see the photos that they created. I'm sure they will be far more polished than my own.

Congratulations to Sam and Kristine. You guys are both awesome and you made an absolutely beautiful couple. I wish you nothing but blessings and happiness in this new chapter in life that you are beginning together. Let's barbecue sometime. ^^

P.S. Thank you to my wife for putting up with walking around in public with a crazy man.