Ok - so first I must apologise that it has taken me so long to get this post out but as the saying goes: "Better late than never", right? 🙂
So, when Jide Alakija
(Photographer Extradonaire) asked if I would be interested in assisting him on an engagement wedding assignment - I instantly jumped at the chance to shoot a real event with a pro. I mean you really can’t beat working with and learning from someone whose work inspires you to become a better photographer. I won't lie - it pretty much made my week, maybe even my month 🙂
The night before the event, having learned my lesson from my cousin’s wedding the previous weekend - I checked my flash, charged my batteries and formatted my memory cards - I was ready to roll. The morning of said event, I woke up early - far earlier than any other Saturday in memory - went over my checklist several times and then headed out - a giant bundle of nerves and excitement.
At this point, I should probably mention that the event was the engagement / traditional ceremony of Bella Adenuga and Jameel Disu. For those of you that don't know (and I admit that I didn't), Bella Adenuga is the daughter of Mike Adenuga - global media powerhouse in Nigeria - so I knew that this was going to be a high profile event, just for a little added pressure.
The first sight that greets me when I arrive at the venue (British International School in Oniru) are 6 rottweilers lined up along the entrance. One of them is looking at me like I am her favourite meaty treat, so I keep a safe distance and scurry past to find Jide who is waiting at the gate to give me my security pass.
(FYI: It turns out that there are different levels of media passes - Common Access, VIP access, VVIP access and All Access - and I had the entry level pass, which meant I was only allowed in the main areas of the marquee but luckily still had access to the bride and groom. Phew!)
At this point, I should also mention my fellow assistant photographers Kayode , the talent behind the very popular Xsightn and his colleague Tunde
. I've had a chance to view their work online since the event and I do have to say that they are both very talented artists who I think are definitely contributing towards raising the bar for professional photography in Nigeria. On this day, they were pretty much my lifesavers, giving me lots of very helpful advice in relation to the day and wedding photography in general.
Easy going fellas - Tunde and Kayode
Anyway back to the story, Jide gives us our first assignment: “Go shoot the space, get a feel for it, shoot details. Just go for it”, he says encouragingly. Sure I say - sounds simple enough - I can do this in my sleep and so I walk around and take a couple of shots but nothing seems to be working. Jide comes over asking how I’m doing and I'm forced to confess that it isn’t going so well. He tells me not to worry and shows me the type of shots he's looking for. Not a problem - it all seems straightforward enough.
So Jide leaves me and I try again but am still feeling uninspired and at this point wondering if I made a mistake thinking I could do this and more importantly wondering if Jide is thinking he made a mistake asking me to assist him, I take a walk outside to clear my head and shake off the nerves. I go see the hungry rottweilers to get a few shots and then I come back into the marquee, change from my beloved 70-200mm to my more familiar 50mm and start shooting. The 5 minute time-out seems to have worked and I get into a groove and start shooting venue, people, details and anything else that catches my eyes. And 9 hours later, I emerge from the marquee exhausted but no longer a wedding photography virgin! Oh yeah!!! 🙂
I won’t bore you with the details of the day - my images will tell the story instead. However, I do want to leave you with what I learnt from my first wedding photography gig:
1. Wedding photography is much tougher than it looks (I worked a 9 hour day and was standing & kneeling for about 8 of those hours. Needless to say, I was begging for mercy by the end of the day).
2. Shooting a wedding isn’t just about the bride and groom and the main wedding party – it’s important to cover the whole event from the decor to the cake to the guests to the entertainment.
3. The only way to improve is to shoot, shoot, shoot.
The most important lesson of the day for me though was that I learned more about what draws me to shooting weddings. For me, it's all about capturing the emotions of the day. At the end of the day, I want to create a wedding album of beautiful images that tell the story of the love, joy and overwhelming happiness of the day(s). If my images make my clients laugh and get emotional all at the same time, then I have achieved my goal.
Once agan, a big thank you to Jide for inviting me to assist him, to Kayode and Tunde for all their advice and to all of you who continue to support me and my work in so many ways.
I love this lady - I think she was the groom's grandmother and she was totally "bad-to-the-bone"
One of the guest of honours - Deputy Governor of Lagos
King Sunny Ade
Sugar Band - pretty fab music