5 things I've learned while shooting my first wedding

Well… I actually 2nd shot at a wedding with one of my favourite wedding photographers, Davene Prinsloo. What a cool opportunity. If you haven’t yet, you should totally check out her work. She was the speaker at one of the EC Meet-ups earlier this year and laid some solid tog knowledge on us.

This was of course all new to me as it was less than a year after I got my DSLR. Needless to say, there was a lot to learn and that was the mindset I went with. I learned much more but I want to list the 5 main things I took from the experience that enhanced my sense of photography and added value to it. 
1 – Be patient
Chances are, everything’s not gonna go according to plan. In this particular wedding, the dressmaker didn’t deliver the groom and groomsmen’s clothes on time and they were hours late because of that pushing everything out of schedule. We ended up watching tons of YouTube videos on the then new Canon 5D MKiv (adds to wishlist)
The point is, things will happen that are out of your control because there’s so many 3rd parties involved. Caterers, cars, bridal party, the aforementioned dressmaker(s), venue, make-up artists… you get the picture. You just cannot control it all and it will be both in your benefit and the bridal couple’s to be extra patient on their special day. 
2 – Prioritize pretty
This is not wildlife photography, shoot for “pretty” instead of “true to life”. LOL. I got a schooling here and a good one because Davene pointed out the little things to look out for, especially when photographing the bride. Chin, arms, how this pose adds girth and that one takes from her length. Goodness…this is no point and shoot and only a seasoned pro would know these things. Now I do too!
3 – Sensor size DOES matter
In certain instances, you just cannot get away with inefficient gear.  We set out to shoot at sunset but ran a bit late, meaning we lost a lot of precious light. The less light you have, the higher you got to push that ISO levels. 
Full frame sensor professional DSLR’s handle this particularly well, while my crop sensor couldn’t cope at all. Being full of grain and blurry because of trying to compensate with shutter speed, my shots weren’t usable at all.
4 – Be assertive
No seriously. Everybody will want to take any opportunity to talk to the bride and groom and understandably so. They’re happy and most of the time it is to extend their congratulations. That being said, wedding photographers are usually booked for a limited time only and unless you give solid direction as to where you need the bridal couple next, you may just be at the mercy of the crowd, taking away from the time you have to get all your shots for that couple hundred photos the couple are expecting afterwards. 
5 – Shoot, shoot and shoot some more
Look. You’re expected to supply a couple hundred photos…. good, beautiful photos. Because there’s an element of spontaneity, especially in the important moments like the kiss, the vows, the groom’s face when she walks in (you get the picture), you may want to be a tad bit trigger happy when they happen. Taking the photo is only part of the process… the amount of options you have will be a lifesaver in editing.
So that’s the top 5 lessons I learned while shooting my first wedding. Amidst all of these things, it’s so important to have fun and let your energy encourage positivity and order in an atmosphere full of excitement and nervousness. These along with others are lessons that one naturally learns on the job.
Thank you for reading and if you’re a photographer, please use the comment section and share one lesson you’ve learned on your first shoot. 

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Aramex Global Shopper - Shop ANYWHERE in the world!

There’s a saying in marketing that goes, “Sell the problem you solve, not the product”. I used a service earlier this year that embodies this quality and I simply cannot let it go by without sharing my experience with all of you. 
Along with the growing knowledge of photography and videography, I’ve acquired something else. Whether yours is documented in some way or not, every tog and tech lover (or even the general consumer) has one.  I’m talking about that wallet startling wish list. 
Oh, yes…, Orms, bidorbuy, you name it. I’ve got my wishlists set up and in some cases very neatly categorized. If you know what you’d like to be the next addition to your gear, then yip… that’s your wish list.
Here’s the thing though; unless I start earning serious bucks or get sponsors/endorsement deals, my wish list is gonna remain just that for while…
Of course if you compare our prices to those of retailers abroad, shopping there is a viable option as everything is usually less expensive. For instance, check out the chart below. It’s a compilation of some gear I’d like to have when I’m big (lol). Pricing shows local retailers’ vs. some abroad. 
  • Orms Direct
    • D850 body – R54395
    • Nikon 85mm f/1.4 – R31595
    • Joby Gorillapod SLR Zoom – R1015
    • Manfrotto BeFree R5295
  • Amazon
    • D850 body – R44712 ($3296)
    • Nikon 85mm f/1.4 – R22569.83 ($1596) 
    • Joby Gorillapod SLR Zoom – R579 ($41)
    • Manfrotto BeFree R2671.05 ($188.88)
Bad right? Check out the flagship phone prices and try not to cry.
    • iPhone 8 plus – R18344
    • Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – R17499
    • Huawei P10 plus 128gb – R11499
  • Amazon
    • iPhone 8 plus – R14124.53 ($998.80)
    • Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – R12571.79 ($889)
    • Huawei P10 plus 128gb – R8527.04 ($602.98)

 (Update – BTW, the iPhone X costs R30 000 in SA. Sms “loan” to 33516….)

So why not just order abroad, right? Yes, but there’s some things to consider. The duties & taxes that’s added to the goods ordered and shipping.
The former is not much of a deal breaker depending on what you buy,but the all too frequent cases of lost goods is enough to put anyone off. I mean, my sister was kind enough to purchase and ship a tie to me while she lived in the US for a while. This was meant to be worn on my wedding day. It’s two years later, my sister moved back to South Africa and I STILL have no tie. Wanna take that chance with a camera, phone or other more expensive goods? 
That was my position on ordering abroad until earlier this year when, in my search for a solution, I came across an alternative means of shipping that is perfect for the South African consumer who doesn’t want to spend an almost senseless amount of money when the gear costs much cheaper on the other side of the world. So all hope is not lost, awesome people!!!
<queue angelic sound effects>
Okay, so maybe it’s not “new, new”. Maybe you’ve known about it and now you feel like, “Mav, you’ve been living under a rock”…but even so, you probably fit into the minority of people who DID know about AGS before. For the rest of us, this is a breath of fresh air and potentially a really good alternative to buying the often overpriced goods, particularly tech, from our local retailers.
Props to Sam Wright from @techgirlza as I’ve come across this service on her website and decided to give it a shot. 
You can find out a lot more by visiting their site, but in a nutshell this is how the AGS service works. 
  • You sign up and get 24 addresses (of AGS Warehouses) spread out across the globe. 
    • New addresses are added as time goes along. 
  • You buy online and send your goods to the address in the country of the retailer you used.
    • In my case, I used Amazon in the USA and upon checking out, shipped my goods to the New York City AGS address supplied. If you were to buy anything from Germany, you’d use the Frankfurt address supplied. Simple, right?
  • Once it’s been received AGS takes over and gets the goods to your door.
Basically, they’re the more secured middle man who ensures you get your goods. 
I gave them a shot and was saving this post until the whole process was completed, which FYI, took less than 2 weeks. Yes, 2 weeks from placing my order online to having it delivered. NYC to NMB. There are faster shipping options available, but for standard shipping, that’s NOT BAD at all!
From when Aramex takes over, there’s constant updates via email with regards to your parcel(s) and actions that needs to be carried out on your end. 
Let’s talk service Fees.
  • Shipping to South Africa is calculated based on the parcel weight, with the first 500g being R195. If the combined weight exceeds 500g, the rest is charged at R95 per additional 500g. So for a parcel with the combined weight of 1.2kg, shipping costs would be R393 (195 + 99 + 99)
    • Tip : When ordering multiple goods,save yourself R100 by making sure that the goods you order will arrive as one parcel at the AGS warehouse. If you have two items arriving as one parcel, you get charged R195 for the first 500g once as opposed to twice if they were to arrive separately.

[Update 6/11/2017 – AGS is offering each reader a discount code for 50% off shipping within one month of signing up]

  • There is also a lifetime sign up fee of $45 (around R610 at the time of this post) . Unless you frequently ship from abroad this could be considered a hefty commitment. AGS allows you to opt out within a year of signing up with a full refund, no questions asked. 
    • Tip : FNB clients signs up for free. Yes, As an FNB cardholder, you can sign up via the FNB website and enjoy a free lifetime membership to AGS. 
    • If you bank anywhere else, fret not. Until the end of November, the guys over at Aramex Global Shopper were kind enough to offer the readers of this post a $5 lifetime sign up fee, saving you $40 (around R540). Just add “AGS5MC” when signing up. Your welcome! 😃
So who is AGS for?
For everyone shopping abroad? Not quite… but for the consumer who can’t find what they’re looking for locally; for whoever wants peace of mind knowing that they’ll get their goods delivered right to their door step and doesn’t want to fork out a small fortune for said goods or shipping. For THIS individual, Aramex Global Shopper is a perfect fit. 
Thanks for being awesome and reading all the way to the end. Please feel free to share if you can think of anyone that would benefit from this. 
Virtual high five!

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