The 52 Project, Week 10: My Big Fat Jewish Wedding

About a month ago, I was carousing Craigslist for some last minute gigs to fill up my weekends (like the pro I am :p) for the end of July and early August. About ten minutes into my random browsing, a particular gig in the Columbus area struck me as a unique opportunity. "Photographer Seeking Assistant for Othodox Jewish Wedding" was the headliner. Considering I'd never even attended one of these ceremonies, experiencing one on the photographic side would be a real learning experience.  And oh boy was it an experience. A 9am to 9pm kind of experience. An I'm-not-sure-when-the-next-time-I'll-have-a-break-to-eat experience. But overall, much was learned, and there are a few interesting shots to commemorate that day. 

A short warning before going through these photos with a furrowed brow; I was a lighting assistant who wasn't supposed to be taking photos. Through a little sweet talking of my main, Abish, I convinced him that a few shots of film wouldn't hurt, *wink*.  Now onto the show, ^_^.

Pre-Ceremony Shots

 Abish shooting the bride. The big lighting setup.


The bride with niece and nephew.  A closeup of the bride.   


Kids with their Grandparents. Baby needs his Cheerios. The groom with rabbi minutes before ceremony.

The pre-ceremony shots aren't that varied for the simple fact that they all took place within the same 100 feet. We started setting up the lights at 10:00AM, moved to two different locations, and finally ended up at a large, sky-lit stairway, adorned with fake foliage. Awesome backdrop? Not really; but it beat the hell out of whatever white, green, and beige walls were lined up to begin with.

With a vast majority of all my previous weddings being Catholic, prior to this shoot I was used to only one hour before, and up to two hours after the ceremony for any kinds of group pictures. This day, however, had allotted two and a half hours before, and nearly two hours after for the group pictures. "Uh oh," I thought, "this is going to be a long one." Every possible combination of relative between both the bride and groom's sides were captured, no matter how irrelevant certain said combinations were.

Post Ceremony Shots

Blessing the bride & groom, and the meal. The bride's big happy family.

Rabbis in downtown Columbus.

Did I mention this day was long and still at a fast pace? Anyone who's familiar with the Hyatt Regency Columbus and Greater Columbus Convention Center knows they're HUGE. And amongst this huge complex, this wedding's party moved between not one, not two, but seven, that's right, SEVEN banquet rooms. So aside from sweating my butt off in full black suit and tie, I was also the kid responsible for juggling a four light strobe setup between five of these seven rooms. This didn't leave a lot of time for candids where I was expecting to get them, namely the ceremony and reception. I was lucky enough to manage a few post ceremony shots that give a unique feeling to the day's events


Something Good: I learned A TON about Jewish ceremonies. And even though I thought I took in a lot, all that knowledge is barely scratching the surface of what I'll need to know before claiming that "I also do Jewish weddings"

Something Bad: There's some pretty nasty flaring and loss of contrast throughout these shots. So what went wrong? I was using Fuji Pro 400H & 800Z; not that this is the entire issue, but these are Daylight balanced films that don't respond well to mixed lighting and/or uncoated lens flare.

Something Learned: I need some "Jewish terms" flash cards, seriously. Maybe after three or four more of these weddings will I feel comfortable enough to go through shooting a Jewish ceremony without embarrassing myself or offending anybody involved.

Next Week: I'm revisiting B&W in a big way. More work in Tmax 100 and 400, with better handling, processing, and scanning.