Sometimes we commit to things that end up becoming something far more than we ever expected. Sometimes they become lessons. Sometimes they are just a pain in the arse. Hindsight is indeed an interesting thing.
I was called late one evening, the night before this bride's big day, and was asked to be their wedding photographer. My involvement prior to this conversation had constituted a couple of hours shooting (moving pics of) the groom and groomsmen to help out my videographer friend who was filming their day. Through a rather vague conversation with my camera-wielding buddy on the Friday, it seemingly transpired that I would end up shooting stills as a second camera (there were after all, 3 other photographers shooting). So I gave up my plans for the Saturday and said I would help out for 8 hours max for a very reasonable rate, because he was my mate. All communications to this point had been through said friend, who I was essentially working for on this job. I had not met the couple, I had not been to the venue/s, I had literally not had anything to do with this wedding apart from my perceived small involvement at the last minute - i.e. getting some back up shots as an assistant to the other photographers.
So this 10pm phone call caught me off guard.
For whatever reason, they didn't have a wedding photographer organised and they thought that I was IT. I could've said no. I probably should've said no. But I said yes. Because I like to think I'm a nice person and because I knew that if I didn't have a photographer organised the night before my wedding, that I would be on-my-knees grateful to the person who agreed to come to my rescue.
I could literally write for days about the ins and outs of the experience that ensued and needless to say I learned a great deal that I will carry with me through the rest of my photography career. I learned that some people do not understand and/or appreciate the considerable effort that goes into shooting something such as a wedding, the amount of time and creativity that goes into the post production, and that there is an etiquette that surrounds commissioning a person (a real, live human being!) to take your wedding photos. Some people do not understand the value of the service provided. It seemed to me that in the end, they were not overly satisfied with what I produced for them because they simply didn't really like my style. Unfortunately for them, I was their (last minute) photographer and if they'd wanted a different style of wedding photograph then perhaps they should've got on to organising all that a bit earlier.
I was a little surprised when I came across some of my images on a weddings website. They had submitted them into a competition to win 'best wedding', or something like that. Most of the images submitted had been taken by me, although you wouldn't know, because I had simply been credited as "Harriet". I have since contacted the website and asked them to correctly credit me for these images on their site, and they have done so. But that's not really the point.
Choosing a wedding photographer involves cultivating a relationship. You choose a photographer because you like their style and you trust them to deliver. You accept a job because you know you can deliver. It is a mutual relationship that deserves respect. Respect for the client, their wishes and their precious day. Respect for the photographer, their artistry and their right to creative licence.