Monday, December 23, 2013

One ring to rule them all...

Wedding rings..... such small things but sometimes they can lead to big trouble!
Once I was shooting my ring shot (rings on the pillow with bouquet behind it). I usually shoot them in the waiting room by the door but since it was getting dark, I moved my chair to the exit. When I'm moving the chair, one of the rings falls off towards the ground! The ground is boards with spacing between the boards, but really small space. I decide to just let the ring fall and pick it up when it stops. So I watch it fall, bounce, bounce, turn sideways and like a coin in a piggy bank, falls right between the slots!!! I'm like OMG!! I look thru the slot and just by luck, thru the sliver of light I can see the ring laying on a board beneath the top boards!! Whew, I thought for sure it fell under the house with no way of getting under to get it!

Now I have to figure out how to get the ring out from under there before the wedding starts!! I hunt everywhere for something I can use and find a hanger! I bend it into a hook and slowly I drag the ring out!! Saved!!! After that I never went outside anymore!!

But, another photographer had same thing happen to them ( I wasnt there) and they couldnt get the rings out! They had to call maintenance to come and remove all the boards to fish the ring out!! Think the wedding started over an hour late.
Once one of the coordinators lost the rings when she walked from the waiting room to the chapel. They had to get all the coordinators to go hunt for it! Luckily they found it in some grass so now they carry the ring over in a basket in the ring box.
One of the other photographers told us about his ring shot. The brides ring cost $100,000!! It was a ring with 1 carat diamonds around the whole thing! Super beautiful ring but the groom wouldn't let it out of his sight!! When the photographer was shooting it, he had to follow him to guard the ring!! Is that crazy or what? How can the bride even wear the thing if he's going to be so worried about it?
 A couple of times my couples forget their wedding rings  at the hotel.  With a one hour timetable we don't have time to go back to hotel to get it so we "borrow" rings from anyone to use for the wedding. My rings (I wear two) have been married 3 or 4 times already!! Now, if the couple forgets their rings, they send someone back to get them, setting our weddings back a long, long time!!! One of the other chapels has a couple of fake rings for the to use. Smart idea!
I've had big rings (big enough for me to fit two fingers in it) and really tiny, tiny rings! So small I couldn't fit the first knuckle of my pinky thru it! I've had gold, platinum, silver, titanium, hand made rings, super fancy ones covered in diamonds, super cheap looking ones, even some I swear are made out of plastic. I've had blue rings, purple rings, yellow, pink, gold, white, black and even rainbow colored ones. Cartier, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, and a ton of Japanese designer ones. Beautiful ones and old worn, beat up ugly rings.  Its always exciting to see what kind of ring I get to play with each wedding!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How do I love thee....

Today I had a really rare groom, an affectionate one!! Every time I told them to look at each other, he'd kiss the bride on the cheek! Id laugh and the bride would blush. Japanese men usually are never affectionate... hmmm more like Japanese people in general don't show it I guess in public so was a welcome change to have such a happy groom.
I sometimes get a groom who seems like they don't wanna be there at all. When they walk, the groom walks a few feet in front of the bride. I end up telling them"TOGETHER!!" lol.
I once had a groom that really didnt want to be there! I was doing the ring shots and the grooms ring was a washer! The kind you buy at the hardware store. I felt kind of funny shooting that as the ring shots but you gotta shoot what you're given. And, right after the wedding I saw him slide it off and put it in his pocket. He had no interest in picture taking but the bride was soo in love.... kind of felt sorry for her...
oo, off topic but I once had a groom whos "wedding ring" was a nice, new Rolex watch! Now thats what I call a good ring! Bet her never had a problem wearing that one every day!

Speaking of grooms, no clue why but I sometimes get grooms who are wearing makeup! I mean like a heavy foundation and lip stick!! No idea how the makeup artist or bride talked him into wearing that! And I used to get a ton of grooms who pluck their eyebrows! Is that a Japanese thing? I've never seen any white people doing that..

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rainy days and mondays....

Checked the weather report night before and they said thunder showers!! Heavy rains!!! Next morning looked out side and it was pretty dark in town but not raining. Headed off to my wedding and was greeted with dark, black skies!! As I got closer to the church, the skies came darker and it was raining!!!  Nothing can make a wedding harder then rain!
So far out of all my weddings, I dont have very many rainouts. Usually it stops or theres a brief time when I can make a mad dash outside and get a few shots. Today sure didnt look like it would be stopping! There was even an occasional thunder..

The main problem shooting when it rains it rain! lol Cameras weren't made to be shot in pouring rain. I had my jacket on but the just keeps my dry, the camera would get soaked everytime I take it out for a shot. At some chapels, the coordinator will come hold an umbrella for you but not this chapel. You were on your own!! And, another bad thing is shooting flash with rain. Any rain gets into your flash and its fried! Had a few zap out on my in the rain.

Couple come and its pouring but this is a large album so I need a lot of shots! At least 800 or so, so I tell the coordinators that I need to shoot a few near the limo, nothing fancy. just pop a few of the bride and groom sitting in the car etc. I shoot and get soaked! then I run for some cover and try to get them walking but hard to focus thru the rain.

Fast forward and we are done with the ceremony and I look outside and its almost stopped! I shoot as fast as I can and say lets go!! We get them leaving chapel, then get the limo shot (wipes brow) since its one of the "important" shots. We skip the gazebo shots and make a mad dash towards the beach. I get a nice wide shot on some stairs with grey skies and coconut trees then move to the next shot with  a few more coconut trees, when this super cold, strong wind starts blowing. It was freezing! I felt sorry for the bride but I kept asking them if its okay! I was lucky and I had an awesome couple who didnt mind getting a bit wet!
We head off for the beach and by this time my poor couple are running with me haha. I tell them they don't have to run, I'm rushing to get in front to get a few walking shots. We get to the beach, get a few shots when here comes the rain!!! Suck part is we had ONE umbrella! It wouldn't even cover the poor bride.
I said lets go back to the gazebo and get shots under it since it had a roof. My poor bride is getting soaked so the videographer and me try to block the rain/wind with our jackets and bodies. It didn't work... We get under the gazebo and I set up bride for a few shots.Can you believe it the roof leaks? It didn't stop much rain at all and when I try to get a shot, I back up and the water running off the roof just soaks me and my poor camera! I rush a few shots of bride and groom and between shots Im trying to dry off the bride with some paper towels I carry in my pocket. I ask coordinator can she go get towel, but she doesnt so the videographer runs over and like superman saves the day!! Oh, don't get me wrong, the coordinator was doing her best trying to help, but usually on rainy days we get other coordinators to come over and help with umbrellas.... Not today !!
i check my cameras counter and im at like 500-600 shots! Really not enough but I said forget it already. My poor bride is a soaked mess but happy, my groom is wet but he was having fun so I tell them time to go!!
I'm so glad I had an awesome couple who didn't mind the weather to at least try get some nice .... kind of nice shots. I think it would have sucked to shoot all the shots in the chapel and they get zero outside...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A cut above the rest...

Todays wedding was another easy one, not much happened and only thing unusual was the brides arms. I've seen girls before with a few cuts on their arms (self inflicted types) but this girl's  arms were covered in them. She must have had almost a 100 of them! Some were pretty deep since the scars were pretty big.. But she looked like a typical Japanese girl, nothing that would make you think she would do something like that.....

Speaking of scars, I've seen a bunch of brides and even guest with a huge scar across the bottom of their necks. I always wondered what type of operation that would leave the same scar on so many people. I've never seen one on any American people ... And another thing I've noticed about Japanese doctors is they leave the most "hideous?" huge, ugly scars on people. Some look like the type out of horror movie. Like a huge scar and you can see where the stitches were because they left big holes.. Again I've never seen them that bad on Americans either...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Till death do we part...

December 2nd

Had a wedding today at 11am all the way at Koolina. Long drive from town for just one wedding..Todays order was a large album but problem was there was only a couple! Makes it a lot harder to shoot your 1k shots of just a couple. Idea is to keep shooting!! Every step they take lol.

Also got lucky and I had a really pretty bride and fun groom. Thats what makes your life easy, nice fun couples who do anything you ask. Junk part is they didnt order many options that the company offers like fake cake cutting (don't ask me who thought of that), toasting (with soda), lei exchange etc just a flower shower.

In order we do arrival, the limo shot, few shots in front of church,  few shots of bride inside. I used to shoot them in front of tall mirror that came out pretty nicely but they said the mirrors ugly so now I have to shoot them in front of the bathrooms... How romantic! Then we do some shots of the minister talking to couple. Then ceremony, flower shower, then beach shots.

Nothing exciting happened tho just fun couple enjoying their wedding in Hawaii!! The "fun" happened afterwards. I was putting my camera in my car after I was finished with my wedding when I saw an ambulance by the beach. Then I heard a firetruck coming so I went back to go see whats happening. As I was walking towards the beach I saw the next couple so I told their coordinator I'm going to check it out because I think someone drowned.  Sure enough the ambulance guys and the firemen were working on some poor guy who drowned so I motioned to the coordinators to don't come to regular spot but go more down the beach away from the firemen. Sure enough, they bring the couple to wrong spot... when they carried the poor drowned guy to ambulance, they carried him right in front of the next couple.. What a great thing to see during your wedding.....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Another day, another wedding...

Day after black friday and I'm tired!! Got lucky and had a later wedding (3pm). We did the beach first so I always try not to get the dress dirty so I don't "ruin" the wedding. Got lucky some more and it was low tide so I could take them on the beach to get some shots. At the beach I shoot, when its high tide, the dry sand section is like 2 feet wide so really cant get any nice shots. And with all the broken sticks and junk, I don't want to even bother taking any since it will take me all night to photoshop out the junk.

Today's bride was pretty and tall! Like probably 5'5" or so. Groom was handsome too so nice looking couple and they both spoke perfect English!  Only problem when I shoot is I usually never think of the groom as a person but more like a prop for the brides pictures! I tell him come here, take shot then tell him go away lol.   Half the time I forgot to take shots of the groom by himself....

My usual shots are bride on beach by herself, close up. Couple shot, talking on the beach, bride sitting in sand, couple sitting hmmm different backgrounds so they don't all look the same. Hard part is the sun is pretty bright on the beach so you have to either get lucky and the suns in the right spot and the winds blowing in the right direction so you can get away with out flash. But, usually ill have to blast my flash to try fill in the shadows. I hate bags under eyes and dead eyes!! Thats why I use a Metz 60 ct4 flash. A huge old manual flash that has external battery pack and these heavy lead batteries. Don't drop on of those batteries on you foot because it hurts!!

Finished with beach and off to the wedding. I found out we have like a dozen guest but this time, no family, just friends. Amazing part is almost all the girls were super tall!! With shoes on they were almost 6 feet tall!! I thought they worked at like a bar or something but coordinator said they are friends and all work different places.. I had one wedding once with all tall, pretty girls that were hostesss sss? how you spell that? hostess's And all but one of the girls was single! When I think about it, I've had a bunch of weddings where the bride is taller then the groom. Somehow the Japanese girls are out growing the guys!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!! No break for me...

Happy Thanksgiving! No day off for me! For some odd reason today is a busy day for Japanese weddings. I had to shoot 2 weddings ...
First one was at 9am!! I hate the early weddings since I can never wake up..I had a nice easy couple, a nice small package... let me explain on our packages.
We have basically 3 different shoots.  A small one where they get like 40 shots, a medium where they get about 70 shots  and the large album which needs about 180 shots. Both medium and small are about the same. Just add in a few more closeups and few more group shots. And do a lot of the shots horizontally and vertically! The large albums are the ones that run you out of time quickly! To get the 180 shots you have to shoot almost 1,000!! try do that in an hour!!

Back to my 9am wedding.. easy couple a bit older then usual. Usually my couples are in their 20s prob average like upper? I get some young, some super young and older ones too. This couple was prob in early 40s. Nice couple but once we got to the beach, the bride stopped smiling and would just smile with mouth closed. Think the beach was too bright and it was hot! Only thing was she had one crooked tooth that showed when she smiled and you could only see that...

Long ago when I shot weddings, lots of the Japan girls had really crooked teeth. But it was cute to me so I never noticed by more lately, they've been going American? You know, straight white teeth. I have lots with braces etc.. And for some reason, they've been growing taller too. I used to tower over them and would have to bend down to keep my camera at chest level but now I have a lot that are almost as tall as me!! Oops, forgot to mention but I'm about 6ft with my shoes on. I keep telling everyone its because McDonalds came to Japan!!

My second wedding was at 2pm so I had a nice break to watch a little football before the wedding. Only thing about watching tv between weddings is you get into the show and right near the ending, the couple arrives!!! I missed the ending of so many shows, I don't bother watching tv at the church any more!

Second couple arrives and I notice my bride is pregnant. Usually on our fax it will be on there so I know that before hand because sometimes (most times) you cant tell at all. Japanese girls don't seem to show as much as American girls... This one was probably 7 months or so since you could see a bit of the tummy.  Im glad she didnt have morning sickness!! I've had sick brides before and its NO fun!!

I'll tell you about one of my worse ones. Bride arrived and wasn't feeling good. She had to go bathroom to throw up. Then we went outside to shoot a few shots before wedding and she threw up. Then during the wedding we had a garbage can just in case. During the after wedding shots she threw up!!  We had to get a beach photo session and I wasn't looking forward to it! She brought a bag just in case and .. yup she threw up. I had to shoot the pictures so I had to do something with the bag. I couldn't throw it away since she might need it so I had to tuck it in my back pocket and shoot!!! I was hoping I didn't get it on my hands or clothes!!!

Back to my 2pm wedding.. Everything went perfectly and during the outside shots, we always do a carry shot ie groom carrying the bride. So, since she was pregnant I asked the coordinator if they wanted to do a carry shot. Coordinator said NO. I said ask them because its a required shot. She still didnt want to ask till I told her again! Some of the coordinators drive me nuts lol And for some odd reason, they think if the groom carries the bride, it will somehow danger the baby or maybe squeeze the baby out? I have no clue so its always a battle to get them to just ask!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 26 wedding

I'll start this off with wedding I shot yesterday. Nice couple with cute bride and really big groom! Usually the grooms from Japan aren't big guys. Don't know if its the diet or just heredity but most are shorter then me and weigh average. This guy was a big guy! My height but like upper 200s?  Pretty easy to shoot couple! Lucky me! Other day I had a bride who wouldnt stop blinking or looking at ground or looking at family! I swear she would look everywhere but at me!! I'd stop shooting and let the family take some shots and she was perfect!!  The groom just wouldnt look at me either or was blinking too!! They were the photographer's nightmare!! I'd shoot the same shot over and over telling them stop blinking, look at me, stop blinking LOOK AT ME!! lol Edit time Id look at first shot, bride blink. second shot, groom looking away, but bride open eyes! Next shot bride blink. forth shot perfect but my flash didn't fire since I was rapid firing..... Drove me crazzyyyy so when I got a nice easy couple, it was like a vacation!!

Only big problem was it was hot and humid!! I was sweating tons and my poor groom was dying! He was almost panting? wheezing? I kept asking are you okay and he said "its hot" lol...I told him you think this is hot? wait till we go to the beach !!!

Beach wasn't that bad luckily and it was a beautiful day.. Fun part was doing a sit down shot and the groom couldn't do that pose because his pants too tight so couldn't bend! Got lucky and the beach wasn't covered in broken sticks and seaweed. High tide and the beach looks like a trash heap with junk all over it.. The company I shoot for don't want any of that in the pictures! But I dont shoot that, they don't get any beach shots!!.. oh well.....

sorry no pictures (yet), the company I shoot for owns the pictures so I can't post them up. I'll try photoshop them so you can't tell who's in them and add a few...

10,000+ weddings and still going..

I'm a wedding photographer.... not your run of the mill, weekend wedding with 100s of guests, maid of honors, best men etc!! No way... I'm one of those photographer adrenaline junkies who shoot the hardest weddings known to mankind!! The ONE HOUR WEDDING!!!

What is a "one hour wedding"? Hmm i guess its a wedding that lasts for one hour? Not really, but its like the couple books a 1pm wedding. the will arrive at 12:15 or so and we start shooting. the actual wedding starts at 1pm (if we are on time). Ceremony finishes at about 1:20, then we shoot formals  and rest of the inside shots. Them from 1:30 till 2pm we have to finish the rest of the outside shots and send the couple on their way..

How did I get started shooting them?
Long ago my friend needed help with his night job at a photo lab. Since I didn't do anything at nights and the pay was good, I went for it.What we printed was group shots of Japanese tourist at the Pali lookout (hundreds of them every day!!) and we also printed up wedding pictures from Japanese weddings.
All the pictures had to be done that night since they had to deliver them that same night. Back then all the group shots were shot with 6x7 film (medium format) and most of the weddings were shot 6x6 (Hasselblads most popular camera). We had to develop the film, then print them up so the photographers could make their albums to deliver same day and the group shots had to be put in the folders and delivered to the tour groups.
After a few months of doing this, I was asked if I wanted to shoot the weddings since it was getting busier. I was like wow, thats scary but I'll go for it. Sounds like fun too!!
I got a nice shiny new Hasselblad 500cm with 220 back, 80mm lens and metz 45 flash. I was taught how to use the camera, what shots to get and errr I was shoved into shooting a wedding!!

Back then you had to be a 100% perfect professional photographer to do them!! We were shooting a 20 page album with one roll of 220 film! Thats 24 shots to get 20 for the album!! We had to shoot formal couple shots 2x and group shot 2x so you could make 2 mistakes and thats it!! No closed eyes, no guest looking away, no bad exposures, no camera failures, NO mistakes!!!  Thats how you learn to really pay attention to everything. Did that way for years and years until one day, one of our photographers shot a wedding and i swear he had like 17 closed eye shots out of the 24 !! So, from then on we shot a 220 roll and a 120 roll making it 36 shots!! I felt like "its cant get any easier then this!!"

Then the gods of photography decided that 35 mm was better then medium format!! I hated the change. The Nikon I shot with was just too small and light!! I felt like I was holding a feather lol. I used an F5 with 24-105mm lens. I still used my Metz flash since I was used to manual flash. Using autofocus was strange!! Just aim and wow, your picture is in focus!!  But, no matter what they said, I still felt the big negatives just had better color, focus was way sharper and you just looked more professional holding that big old camera!! Oh well......

Move ahead a few years and oh oh, now they thing that digital is better then 35mm!!! Again I don't believe it!! I thought digital is totally ripping off the customers since the output totally sucked. Not sharp, no contrast, color was horrible.. not one thing good about it except you didnt have to develop the film anymore.. Only way to "fix" the pictures was now we had to become professional photo editors! Photoshopping all night long trying to make those ugly digital images look like they were supposed to....

Okay, thats getting a bit long so I'll end here and I'll in the future try tell you what happens on my daily grind shooting my 10,000 ++++ weddings!! Oh, about that, A few years ago I was doing taxes and I had out my old schedule books and just for fun, I wanted to see how many weddings I shot over the years. Adding them up I came out to over 10,000 weddings. Thats a lot of couples.. Always wonder how many are still married, have kids, liked my pictures etc.....