Shooting weddings dry or wet

I can think of nothing that is as memorable and photogenic at the same time as a wedding. It cannot be repeated, so don’t miss getting as many photos as possible. While a lot of your guests will be carrying cameras, make sure that someone is dedicated to taking high quality photos of all of the types of photos that you want.

Should you ask a friend or hire a professional? Friends are low cost and can get involved in the personalities of the people that they already know and love. They are more likely to photograph your favorite people doing things that involve an insider joke that a stranger may miss. Having friends taking photos is great, provided they do not get in the way of the events.

But a hired camera does not have to worry about talking over old times or drinking an extra toast to the bride. They will always have their cameras in hand and have extra lighting when needed to make the whole event look even more beautiful. Your pro should have an assistant.

This second person will help with the extra lighting, can shoot from more than one angle to never miss the action or expression and is a great help when it comes time to round up all of the right people for each group photo on the bride’s photo list. The wedding couple and the wedding planner can turn over the activities to the photographer and relax.

All of you who know me know that I am going to take this topic underwater as quickly as possible. Underwater weddings are fun and can be done beautifully. In one recent wedding, we made laminated copies of the ceremony.

The marriage “officer” held up each part of the ceremony and showed it to the audience and the couple. Then he handed a copy of the groom’s vow for him to write in the bride’s name with a grease pencil and show it to her, and so forth.

Photography underwater is difficult because you have to be intrusive to get close enough for a clear photo. You cannot be well out of the way and shoot with a long lens the way you would do above water.

Choose a location with a convenient staging area above water to repeat the wedding vows immediately after the dive with a real wedding official and to sign the papers. You should be in water deep enough to avoid surge but no deeper than 50 feet so that no one runs out of air too fast.

You will need a rocky or rubble area for divers to kneel without hurting the reef. Sand is OK, but can be stirred up easily. A shore dive from diver hotels like Sunset House, Lighthouse point, or Cobalt Coast on Grand Cayman would all be fine. Otherwise, diving from a boat could work, depending on how you are connecting with the marriage officer.

Some sort of veil or other “costume” is helpful so you can easily tell that this scuba diver is a bride. Plastic flowers with small weights further ornament the scene. While as a photographer I like these additions, my latest wedding had no added “props” except a wonderful shell wedding ring and a small tiara. It was simple, sincere and lovely.

Many brides enjoy “trashing” the dress after the wedding. Doing this snorkeling in the ocean with the photographer shooting them underwater is an adventure. A proper use of weights will help the couple submerge easily, while the photographer must be on SCUBA. Be prepared for a dress that wants to float up over the bride’s head.

I keep a ready stock of various sized fishing weights and a pair of scissors to cut vents to let the air out of multiple layers. A strong buoy or float attached to the bottom is important to help the couple relax between submerging and to help them maintain their positions. If the rope does not look good in the photo, it can often be removed in post production.

Whatever your wedding photo needs, planning is the key. Make sure that you get the right people to document your once-in-a-life-time event.

Feel free to contact Cathy Church’s Event Photography, 345-949-7415 for information.