"Photographing an "at-home" wedding like this must be tough." Jen's uncle posed the question after the bubbly had been popped open and toasts were done... I honestly think I had it easier that day than other situations I've been in, but it gave me pause to think about how my brain cranked out solutions throughout their day. . . 

First, I was so thankful that I got to meet with Jen prior to her wedding day at their venue (which just happened to be their new home) because I was able to see the layout of her home, yard and imagine photographic opportunities. I was able to map out what parts of her home and yard I would use for specific types of images and this allowed me to also imagine what kinds of poses would be most beneficial for the situation.
The weekend of Jen's wedding, I attended an online seminar on posing (what a way to ramp up the creative juices at CreativeLive.com!) and while the instructor taught, and as I perused other photographer's blogs, I took photos on my iTouch to have a quick reference if my mind went blank on the spot. Taking those photos numbers from the iTouch, I listed on the map layout where that particular pose might work. I honestly didn't reference the sheet at all while I was working with Jen & Jason, but I'm a visual learner so the work of mapping it out was how I studied and memorized where I was going to go and solidified which poses I definitely wanted to use.
I realize this seems tedious and overdone to some people, but again, I'm a visual learner and the more prepared I feel, the more confident I am going into a situation where I'm the only photographer, ergo, I'm only working with one brain. (I will admit, I've only done two weddings ever where I'm the only one.) :) I want as many ideas in my tool belt as my brain can remember. Again, this layout was more of a study tool than anything else.

That being said, all preparation in the world sometimes doesn't prepare you for other unforseen challenges. Though, it does help me stay calm while problem solving under pressure.

Here are some challenges we faced:

1. The weather was beautiful, but it was blustery.
Good thing all of Jen's hair was up and Jason's didn't move a muscle! During family photos, there were moments where we had to simply wait a few extra moments until family members' hair had calmed down. Otherwise, they all just got the model-esque wind swept look. :) On a positive note, it did make for this great moment (taken from the kitchen door looking out onto their deck):

2. Lack of shady areas and/or cloud cover.
While we were anticipating rain the entire week from the forecast, it was bright & sunny without a cloud in the sky. Most would say that's great for a wedding day, but I actually prefer a semi cloudy day to minimalize squinting in photos, stark shadows falling across my subject's face, and to keep cool while working hard. (People appreciate SEEing the photog, not SMELLing her!) Whaddya do? You shoot backlit. (And wear lotsa deoderant!)
3. The only shade we had for family photos was on the side of the house with the utilities exposed. (AC unit, escape hatch to basement window, on a slope downward away from the house, and the chain link fence lining the boundary of their yard. We made the best of the location and worked it! I did a lot of cropping in-camera to minimalize the slope, the fence and we obviously steered away from the AC unit. For Jen, seeing the fence in the photos wasn't a big deal because it was just another reminder that they got married at their NEW HOME! (Gotta love a low-key, laid back bride!) :)
Best part of shooting an "at-home" wedding?
1. Everyone is in the same place the ENTIRE time.
Yay for less footwork and mileage! And during family photos, everyone was within ear-shot. Score.

2. A 2-story house made for an awesome "above-the-ceremony" shot.
Before the ceremony started, we took the screen out and I took this photo from the master bedroom's window. (Gotta love a low-key, laid back, CREATIVE bride!)

3. I used most of the equipment I brought with me.
90mm for details, 50mm for portraits and family, 18-105 for wide-angle getting ready shots in the bedroom and zooming in on the ceremony from the 2nd story, while able to crop in-camera.

4. Because it was an outdoor wedding, I didn't have to worry about bringing lighting equipment with me!
And when I was taking photos of details inside, there were so many windows letting natural light in, it wasn't a concern. Phew!

Hopefully, this post can help someone when planning their wedding and things to consider for their photographer in the future!

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