Tight Knot

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Nov 30, 2010
Reaction score
Boca Raton, FL
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Well, first of all, thank you to everyone for giving me advice earlier on Traditional Jewish Wedding.
I shot the wedding about 4 weeks ago, and most everything went well (hahahahaha I wish), except for the Chuppah.

The Groom, Bride and their respective families were all supposed to arrive about 1 hour prior to the ceremony for portraits (I arrived 2 hours early to set up), but they only arrived about 10 minutes before.
In the meantime, my light stands were not weighted down well enough, and the wind blew them over destroying 1 of my umbrellas, and badly damaging 2 others, but, with the marines motto of "The Difficult We Do Immediately. The Impossible Takes A Little Longer", I had everything up and running with time to spare. I still waited +- 1 hour for them to arrive.
Now started the rush to get some decent portraits. The Groom only wanted a few photos of himself with his son (this was a second marriage for both Bride and Groom), no big deal, a few portraits later he was good to go. I had an assistant taking the portraits of the bride and her family while I was shooting the Groom. She did a great job, especially considering how rushed we were.
Now came the fun part. The Wedding Ceremony (called the Chuppah, same name as the structure the Ceremony is performed under).
No matter how I tried to get to see the actual chuppah beforehand, no-one could get me to it. No-one knew who had it, or where it was being kept, or what it looked like, or had photos of it. Boy was that tough.
Even tougher, was getting there on the day of the wedding about 2 hours before the ceremony was supposed to start (I was told the chuppah would be there already, and set up ready for use) but of course found no chuppah, only a dark room, without lights, and no-one to tell me how to turn the lights on. So, no way to test the lighting beforehand, no way to get a white-balance, no way to anything!!!
The chuppah ended up arriving while I was shooting the portraits, and it turned out to be 4 poles (that were to be held up by the Pole Holders - 4 people, one to each pole) holding up a loose royal blue velvet canopy, no way to get bounce flash off of that.
They turned on the lights just before the Groom walked into the room, and boy, did they take a loooooooong time to light up properly, and even then, there was not anywhere near enough light to shoot decently.
Although I do admit to trying to get some speedlights taped up to the top of the poles with reflectors and diffusers aimed at the couple and the officiating Rabbi, it turned out that they decided they wanted the couple to face the other direction with their backs to the lights . To paraphrase the poem "Charge of the light brigade", It is not for me to reason why, but mine is but to do or die. This all happened in about 5 minutes, and even with 3 assistants (other than the assistant photographer) there was no way to try and change anything around.
So I went with the next best thing. I quit and walked out!! :-x
Just kidding, but, boy, did I want to. Instead I shut off the receivers for the speedlights, threw a flash onto my camera and shot the whole ceremony with an on-camera flash, with diffuser and reflector. Not one of my best photo shoots.

it felt like pandemonium being rushed by madness, and bedlam being steamrolled by chaos.

At least the Wedding Reception went well.

At the end everything seemed to work out pretty okay. Between the two of us we shot over 1000 photos and showed them +- 240. Thank G-D, they loved 90% of the shots, and are going to have a book printed as an album.

Wow!! That was a day to remember!!!

Since then I have been to 3 more traditional Jewish weddings, and it appears that the lighting used by all of the other photographers under the Chuppah (I went as a guest), were either speedlight on the camera, or an assistant holding up the speedlight, or a speedlight in a small softbox on a light stand held up at the height of the actual chuppah canopy itself and about 10' from the chuppah aiming down at the participants. I liked the softbox idea best. Maybe next time, I'll use two softboxes from the front and a small kicker from the back.
And that, ladies and gennlemun is what I like to call a LEARNING experience! Sounds like you pulled it off!
My goodness, what a challenging set of circumstances. Yeeesh! Sounds like a nightmarish gig for you as a photographer.
sounds like you were able to think on your feet and get the job done. Thats the important part.
I would love to take credit for thinking on my feet, but the truth is, at some point I just went into automatic mode (mentally, not camera auto), no thinking, just doing and trusting my instincts. Thank G-D, it worked :hail:

Most reactions

New Topics