Sometimes, when you least expect it, opportunity knocks. Such was the case, when last week on Facebook, I noticed Dane Sanders had posted that his friend, Mike Larson, was looking for help at a wedding in Montecito. I thought to myself, “wow, shooting with Mike Larson… how AWESOME would that be” and then moved on.
But, I came back and decided to shoot him an email and offer help. I honestly NEVER thought anything more about it. I assumed he would get tons of emails and it was a shot in the dark. When I got an email reply the next day to schedule a phone call, I was in shock. So, a few really quick, helpful pointers.
1. ANY email you send should be spell checked.
2. ESPECIALLY an e-mail sent to another photographer you’re offering to assist.
3. DOUBLE CHECK when that photographer is someone you admire…
I re-read my email after he responded and it had so many embarrassing typos. I got so nervous just sending the e-mail, I didn’t even think about typos… Good thing it wasn’t held against me. (thanks Mike!)
So, Mike set up a time for me to call him and I was sweating and nervous before I made the phone call.
He was really nice and I enjoyed talking to him, but I do recall saying “ummm” entirely too much. It’s a habit and I can only hope to work on this, so I don’t do that when I talk to clients! LOL
He asked me questions that caught me off guard. That’s not a bad thing, it just made me really think, so I was honest.
“I need to work on off-camera flash”, etc… Mike had been to both my website and blog and had said he was impressed with our About Us section. This was great news because we worked really hard on getting this section to convey who Josh and I really are. He also asked how I was involved with Showit, since he read my previous post about the Showitfest trip.
After about 15 minutes, Mike happily gave me the details about the wedding and that was that, we were officially assisting him at a wedding in Montecito! WHAT?!?!? I’m sorry WHAT? Yeah, that’s how I felt when I got off the phone.
I realize that he is just like everyone else. Just like with celebrities, they are like us, eat like us, dress like us, but there is something different about being able to shoot with someone you admire. Not only in their work, but in their life and how they live. So yeah, I was a bit excited and then it hit me. I was NERVOUS!!!
All my doubts rushed in and I was crazy NERVOUS! What was I thinking? How could I possibly shoot with MIKE LARSON??? I’m not good enough. Honestly, I thought all these things. And yes, I realize he looked at our portfolio and wouldn’t have contacted me had he not been confident in our work. But STILL… these thoughts filled every part of my mind, quicker than sand filling footprints on the ocean shore. However, I needed to put these aside and know I would do my best and rock it and absorb as much as I could at the same time.
Saturday came and we met Mike at The Coffee Bean in Montecito. While we sat there waiting, who do we run into… David Jay of course. It was really nice to see him again after the trip and Josh had not seen him since the PASS Premier Tour, so it was great to say hello. Mike showed up shortly after and let us know plans changed a bit and we were starting early.
So, we headed over to the Montecito Inn, where we would be doing getting ready shots of the girls. Once there, Mike briefed us on what he expects from his 2nd (and 3rd) shooters and we made sure we were all on the same page.
We sync’d our cameras. If you ever shoot with someone else, this is a MUST because it makes work flow after the shoot so much easier. Even being off by 1 minute can make the difference between having to re-order a bunch of images, especially during the ceremony. It is great to see each significant event from every angle when you are culling through your images.
Josh headed over to the house where the guys were getting ready, while Mike and I stayed with the girls. I was ecstastic to see a pair of shiny silver Jimmy Choo heels. I LOVE shoes, and shooting shoes, so this was like the epitome of happiness for me (well not really, but come on, they were Jimmy Choo!) Detail shots are one of my favorite things and I had a field day. I also moved the wedding dress around to get some different angles. She had a gorgeous Ines Di Santo wedding gown.
After a few hours we headed to the venue, the stunning Montecito Country Club. We rode over on a trolley which was a blast, the girls all sang along to “Going to the Chapel”. Mike had left to join Josh and the guys at this point, so I was flying solo. This was fine with me, I love being with all the girls, and we had some fun.
Again, Mike briefed us on what to expect and how to work around each other at the ceremony site. I think we did a good job at covering all the angles and not getting in each other’s way.
Mike made an excellent point earlier in the day which I really appreciated. He doesn’t like lugging a bunch of gear around while he is shooting. He likes to stay low profile and not knock people over with a hefty gear bag or tons of equipment. He had a big bag, of course, but he didn’t carry it everywhere. Instead, he either had just his camera or he wore his shootsac. I like this. I hate lugging gear around and it makes you less intrusive. (excuse me while I maneuver around everyone with a giant bag… nope keep it simple)
Another thing he told us, and WOW you do not realize how often you do it until you are told to be aware of it, not to CHIMP!!!
WE ALL CHIMP – If you say you don’t, I’d like to record you. I thought I didn’t do it much and guess what, I caught myself, so many times. Not that you shouldn’t ever, but you should keep it to a minimum, especially when shooting people. Taking the shot, then looking down, is a total disconnect from the people you are with. Talk to your couples, or whomever it is, first. Then, if you have to look, do it. But, it looks bad to constantly shoot, chimp, shoot, chimp. It is all about interaction and making the clients comfortable, not about checking yourself. I learned I need to work on that, I will admit it! Thanks again Mike for that great bit of advice!
Watching Mike interact with his couple and the way he took their photos was GREAT. Using motion and not just having people in one place was great. It really helped me with understanding things. Before, I would get stuck in a complacent spot. I can’t wait to shoot my next wedding and use some of the things I learned here!
As we transitioned from ceremony to reception, Mike had us help set up his lighting, four flashes on tripods with radio receivers. He gave me a transmitter, so I didn’t have to use my flash. Again, this is the area where I fully admit it is my weakness, reception lighting. Mike straight up gave me the settings he uses. He was really cool about explaining it and that really opened up a new door for me as far as setting up my own reception lighting.
Mike can rock reception lighting. At one point, he was taking photos of the dessert bar, which people had already helped themselves to. But, using one light on a monopod, and back lighting, he made the desserts look INCREDIBLE. I was in awe. I never thought to do that before. Now, I will confidently use some of these back lighting techniques!
I, of course, need to keep the images under wraps until I get the go ahead from Mike and his team, but we are SOOO excited to share what we did get eventually, so keep checking back.
Thanks again to Mike, we are truly blessed to have been given this opportunity. It was amazing to work with you, we learned so much and we hope that we served you well!!!