As I drove up to Garden Grove, I couldn’t believe that just hours before there were tornado warnings and massive storms. That’s the strange, but beautiful thing about Texas weather: part of the day is storming and dark, but then the other part is bright and sunny. The venue was beautifully decorated for the wedding workshop and styled shoot that I was attending. Never have I ever took a wedding photography workshop nor was the second shooter for a wedding, and, up to this moment, I’ve been the primary for seven weddings. Even if I decide to not specialize in wedding photography, I knew I needed to learn more about the business, how to handle weddings, and photography in general. I walked into the main area of the venue to find a few of the other attendees with cameras already out and taking photos of pieces of paper on a kitchen island. The pieces of paper were our welcome packets and envelopes for each of us carrying a wedding invitation suite. We each got a suite to practice flat lays with.
I explored the venue with the other attendees. We found an open room with gorgeous windows - a room perfect for indoor portraits - and what I thought was an impressive bathroom, but I was mistaken. The actual main bathroom for the wedding party is massive. The bathroom itself is about the size of my studio apartment. The toilet was separated by a door, and it was big enough to sleep two brides maids, if need be. The same goes for the shower: large enough to house a few brides maids. Overall, an entire bridal party could be housed in that bathroom.
When all attendees were accounted for, Jessica Frey of Jessica Frey Photography sat us all down to talk. Our introduction talk was informal and a chance for all of us to introduce ourselves. It was that moment that I knew I was the most green person in the room. Green meaning the term used to describe someone fresh and new to the business. It’s a term used in the creative world. I was definitely intimidated being surrounded by people who knew more than me, had more experience, and had more confidence. However, I didn’t want my intimidation to get in the way of this experience. Fake it till you make it, right? It ended up being a good thing. When you surround yourself with people who are at a higher level than you, then you are pushed to become stronger, better, more skilled at whatever it is. Watching how those women worked and shot, pushed me to, basically, level up.
For the next six hours, we walked through a wedding, practicing shooting the different parts of the Big Day. It was a long day, and even though it wasn’t a real wedding, I still felt the same stamina that I usually need when I shoot weddings. Jessica created a beautiful styled shoot with all the details accounted for! We started with bridal and groom portraits, both of whom were dressed to the nines. All of us swooned over her dress and his jacket. Then we all went crazy over the connection our two models have with each other! They’re a couple in real life and have been dating for 7 (maybe 9?) years! We were all joking about how this is a good way for them to get an idea about their future wedding. Jessica walked us through different options for a first look - turns out there are three! For any future couple out there reading this, I highly recommend doing a first look. It’s much more intimate, and you can get more of the portraits done before the wedding; this will cut down on time between ceremony and reception where photos are traditionally taken. The options are for the bride to come up and tap the groom on the shoulder from behind (the more popular option), the groom to tap the bride on the shoulder from behind, or to have them both turn around and face the other at the same time.
We ran through a ceremony with our couple, two bridesmaids, and groomsman. Jessica also hired a guitarist to play during the ceremony! It helped give an authentic feeling to the shoot. Jessica called out the kind of shots we should be getting from the ones that moms get for the album to the ones for editorial purposes. She walked us through handling different situations, how we should talk to brides with sounding confident but not rude. We worked up an appetite for our Tapas dinner after the sun set and we were done with shooting.
As we waited for dinner to be served, the venue dogs came running inside. Even though I was so exhausted, I found my second wind of excitement with the dogs. If you don’t know me, know that I love dogs. I want to eventually own a big dog like a Great Dane or Mastiff. Having that moment with the fur children helped me regain some energy. Then eating the amazing food gave me the rest of the energy I needed to finish up the day.
By the time we got dinner, I was so hungry, and the food was impeccable. Everyone sat around the table, and everyone was the photographers, models, owners of Garden Grove, the styled shoot coordinator, and people’s spouses. It was tapas style dinner, and I had at least 5 pieces of each type of dish. My favorite was this shrimp covered in sauce in a little glass (I know, a really great description). Dinner was a perfect ending to a busy day of shooting and learning. I made new photography friends, got to have some more wedding photography training, and new memories.