Cowboy Wedding Photographer

Anthropogenic Crisis No. 134834 (Melting City) copyright 2022 Douglas Stockdale –

This last weekend we were in Boulder Colorado for a family wedding and I was just one of the many guests who brought cameras to document this wonderful event. Mine was a bit larger than the others who were using cell phones for their snap-shots. Nevertheless, I knew I was invited as family, not to be the wedding event photographer as the couple had hired someone. A very young man who in my humble opinion was ill prepared to photograph a wedding and perhaps I am a bit old school as it relates to wedding photography. Which bugged me, as you can tell because I am venting here.

Wedding photography was something I did a long time ago in the days of using a Medium format camera, lots of 120 color film and film backs. I realized doing wedding photography too stressful (back before I know I was dealing with anxiety) and I was very happy to subsequently photograph a few cousins weddings and the such. When I did wedding photography I also had a complete back-up camera system, tripod, electronic strobe/flash and an assistant. Let’s just say I did not see any of the latter equipment or support at this wedding.

So a couple of things to note about this photographer; his camera, a mirrorless SONY, appeared to be a full frame camera. A step-up from the another recent wedding in which the photographer was using a small APS sensor camera, who also did not have a strobe/flash or a tripod. I am sensing a trend in ‘budget’ wedding photography. I don’t think that this photographer had another camera body as he had to frequently switch lens during the pre-wedding portrait process. What-if that single camera had issues? Even for this day I carried a charged back-up camera battery if I might need it (at the end of the day, I did). For me, a back-up camera body is must-have, but again, I am was not a cowboy wedding photographer providing budget wedding photos. At least he had what I consider the good sense to use two prime lens, not rely on a single zoom lens. He received an ‘A’ for that lens choice consideration.

For those who provide budget photography, I would recommend in investing in a tripod for the following reason: you can set-up the camera/lens for the idea location and background and then have more freedom to walk about and help coach those being photographed. Especially if you don’t have an assistant to help (keeping the budget low), thus I found myself calling this cowboy photographer the Lone Ranger. Such as noticing the guy walking his dog who decided to stop, watch and photo-bomb this photo event while standing in the background trees. The photographs I made of the wedding party were a pain to clone this colorful dressed stranger out of the images. I am hoping that the Lone Ranger will do likewise. sigh.

There are big advantages of a strobe/flash even in daylight photograph, especially if choosing to make environment portraits, like the public park we were at. Last weekend the sun was bright, and with everyone standing with 3/4 sunlight, almost everyone’s eyes were squinting and their eye sockets (eye details) were lost in shadows. Using a strobe as a fill-in flash, you can either a) about eliminate all of the eye detail lost in shadows, or b) position everyone so that they are not looking into the sunlight and squinting (almost closing their eyes) and still have them evenly illuminated. Trust me, it works.

Also, you can use the flash inside the church for the wedding party’s entrance and walk down the aisle. It seems the current budget wedding photo trend is to crank up the ISO for the dark church interiors and hope to create acceptable images in post-processing. Come-on, a strobe is not that expensive and you can add a bracket to off-set the unit from the lens to eliminate red-eye that occurs with an on-camera flash. This is not rocket science, even for those who provide budget weddings photos.

Nevertheless, I know that the young couple getting married were on a very tight budget, but even a frugal (cheap) wedding photographer can acquire a couple of relatively inexpensive bits of equipment that would help create meaningful photographs for someone’s once-in-a-lifetime event.

For me, I was there to photograph some candids of the family and of course some wonderful sky and clouds for my Anthropogenic Crisis project. And after watching the Lone Ranger in action, I decide to take more photographs of the various wedding party groups in the park as a safety net for this guy. sigh.

Yes, and immediately after the church wedding ceremony he hopped into his old pick-up truck and sped off into the sunset. Just like the movies, except I did not hear him shout out, Hi-Yo Silver! Away!





Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC): Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading on: May 14 & 15 – 21 & 22nd, 2022, from 1PM-4PM (Mountain Time). More details and sign-up available now at Colorado Photographic Arts Center.


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