This weekend, one of my least favorite things happened while shooting a wedding. The shutter on my main camera died. In the middle of formal family pictures before the ceremony, the shutter malfunctioned to the point where every test shot was garbage. Did I panic and freak out? I mean this is their wedding day!!! They’ve paid me thousands of dollars to capture this day flawlessly for them!! But no, I didn’t freak out. (Okay, maybe in the text I sent my husband later that day ranting about my barely 2-year-old camera that has had a serious malfunction TWICE since I bought it!) But in that moment with my bride and groom, I paused just long enough to pull out camera number two and tuck camera number one away in the bag.
You see, I plan for bad things to happen because, on a wedding day when moments can’t be reenacted or rescheduled, I have to have a backup plan. My backup plan includes lugging around a bunch of heavy backup gear in my bag all day that more than likely won’t get pulled out the entire six month wedding season. But as long as there is a .001% chance that I might need that backup gear, it’s in the bag, accessible at a moment’s notice. I carry a backup camera, a backup flash (even for outdoor natural light venues because you never know what the day will bring), several backup batteries and memory cards, as well as enough lenses to cover the range of the day in case my favorite lens breaks. Is my bag heavy? Yup. Ridiculously heavy. But not as heavy as my heart would be if I ever missed a special moment from someone’s wedding day because I wasn’t prepared with backup gear. My clients are important to me. I get to know my wedding couples on a personal level. They are all equally special to me and the thought of missing any of their wedding day moments is completely heartbreaking.
The next day as I was whining about how much money this broken camera was going to cost in shipping and repairs, I started thinking about all of the new (and possibly old) photographers out there who might not even own a backup camera but are still photographing weddings or other special events. Maybe they think they can’t afford all that backup gear. Maybe they think this will never happen to them. This makes me worried for the bride and groom as well as the photographer so I decided to write a note to both.
For my fellow photographers: First, if you can’t afford to rent or buy backup gear, you shouldn’t be photographing weddings solo. I’m not even going to sugar coat it. Not only are you risking not being able to capture these really special once in a lifetime moments but you are risking your personal and professional credibility and the possibility of a lawsuit that could bury your business financially. (Liability insurance is another conversation we need to have.) If you can’t afford to buy backup gear for your first few weddings, rent it! There are several affordable options for renting gear. It’s also a great way to try out that upgraded camera body or lens you’ve been drooling over. If you can’t afford to rent backup gear, then work as a second shooter until you can. Second, let me tell you from experience, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” your gear will malfunction or break. It could malfunction on its own for no apparent reason with no warning at all. You could get bumped by a wedding guest and have it break. Crazy things happen on a wedding day. I just read in one of my wedding groups that this past weekend the photographer fell into a swimming pool with BOTH of her cameras while trying to capture a shot. Seriously, crazy things happen on wedding days!! You need to be prepared for them.
For brides and grooms: When you meet with potential wedding photographers, do you bring questions to ask them? If you’re not doing this, start now! And make sure you are asking this very important question:
Do you bring backup equipment? What if your camera, flash, or favorite lens breaks, do you have a backup?
The answer needs to be yes! 100%, absolutely yes!! If the answer is no, it’s time to meet with other wedding photographers.
Aislyn June Photography | firstname.lastname@example.org | Whitehall, MI | Muskegon, MI