Every Saturday in Balboa Park dozens of “her special day” events blossom like Spring flowers. In fact, since it is Spring, these special days are abundant. There are more wedding parties in Balboa Park these days than tourists from Minnesota. And that’s a lot. These are all duly recorded by that special breed of photographer known in the trade as “The Wedding Photographer.” Or at least that’s what Kongo thinks they’re known as in “the trade.”Wedding photographers are special in so many ways. They must have incredible pressure on them to make sure even modest weddings and less than beauty queen brides are captured as if this was the wedding of the century on par with Kate and Will’s extravaganza in London. (Of course, Kongo realizes that ALL brides are beautiful on their “special day.”)
Kongo spies them directing the folds of a wedding gown just so, or zooming in for that special kiss with the afternoon sun producing the desired loving glow on the heavily made up faces. After the small fortunes spent on the hairdo those lovely curls better glisten and radiate sunlight through the intricately coiffed tresses as the bride looks longingly into the eyes of her betrothed. The other thing they must keep in the back of their mind is that they are the only thing between this wedding party and the reception. So they have to be quick and good at the same time. Of course receptions are an entirely other photo opportunity but Kongo can’t so easily spy on them there without an invitation.
That’s a lot of pressure. Imagine if the camera breaks, or you forgot to charge the battery, or — God forbid — your memory card goes frirtzy when you get back to the studio and are rushing to get the happy couple their first look-see images that they can download to their Facebook page before they consummate their union later in the evening. There’s a lot of work in getting the wedding party into those perfectly posed candid shots that will prove to posterity what a fun time everyone had at the wedding. There are endless takes and retakes but no matter, the bride always has that perfect smile ready. She’s waited a long time for this and it better be just right!
Sometimes the wedding party is accompanied by a clutch of paparazzi recording in still images and video every breathtaking moment of the special day. Other more modest events have a lone photographer leading her charges from one romantic spot to another.
This couple above had no wedding party and just a single photographer but Kongo had to give it to them, they certainly dressed for the part and were making the most of it. They got a passing grandmother in a “Go Big Red” sweatshirt to help arrange the wedding dress properly on the steps. This was pretty smart in Kongo’s opinion. Not only do you get to involve perfect strangers in your happy day, you don’t have to pay for all the photography assistants that dart around the large parties adjusting every wisp of hair.
Another aspect of the wedding photo shoot is capturing the light. Imagine if you booked the church at noon and then went to the park. You would be caught in that harsh afternoon light and that would be a problem. Late afternoons are better so if you park yourself on the Prado about 4 o’clock on any San Diego Saturday afternoon, you’re going to find plenty of weddings to watch. If that’s your thing. The limos get into a parking jam and the wedding parties literally spew forth like candy out of a piñata!
Another thing wedding photographers have to be wary of is photo bombers. When you’re taking pictures in Balboa Park you are going to have hundreds of uninvited guests. Most people are considerate and stand-off at a distance making proper oohs and aahs at the bride and shouting “Congratulations!” as she and her court trek about in too high heels holding their dresses up so they don’t trip. But there are others who are either clueless or have a mean streak left over from middle school who just can’t help getting more involved in the wedding than they need to.
In the pictures above one clueless couple kept riding their tandem bicycle back and forth between the photographers and the wedding party. I mean like, huh? Doesn’t everyone want a bicycle built for two in their wedding album? Then there were the two girls with hair colored like pop tarts that kept getting in the way. Finally, a bridesmaid had some words with them and they slunk off.
Candid shots are fun too. Like the bridesmaid giving Kongo the Evil Eye while she shivered in the shade waiting for the next “Okay, everybody smile” moment or a bride eating an ice cream cone.
Kongo likes watching the photographers work. He likes looking at their cameras and gear. And he likes those moments that say so much about what the future of these couples may be.
But there is no way, absolutely no way, that Kongo could ever be a wedding photographer. It really is too much work for this monkey and then you have to go and write these saccharine wedding blog posts that gush about what an absolute honor and privilege it was to capture Justin and Tanya’s special day and what wonderful, happy, loving people they are. You know what I mean. If you’ve ever perused WordPress for a few minutes you can find these posts.
Of course, Kongo has been on the other side of wedding photographers. Somewhere in the attic is a little white album titled appropriately “Our Wedding” but to tell the truth, Kongo has absolutely no memory of the photographer at all. It was one of those kind of days. Frankly Kongo was more focused on getting his bride to the honeymoon suite. Such is the lot of a wedding photographer. Of course, Kongo was married at such a young age and so long ago that he could barely spell photography at that nubile stage of his life. Later he hired wedding photographers to capture special days for sons and he does remember them. At least he remembers the bill.
In any event, hats off to the wedding photographers. It’s a tough job but somebody (else) has to do it.
Travel safe. Have fun. Enjoy that special day.