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9-22-18: My Experience Second Shooting My First Wedding

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Winona chapter.

Over the last year, my interest in shooting weddings has increased immensely. I have been shooting seniors since my sophomore year of high school, and I know that I can do so much more. I am only a sophomore in college, and I need to remember to be patient. A lot of times I come up with the question “Oh, I know some other people who are shooting weddings, so why aren’t I?” The key is just patience and to keep shooting.


This summer can be defined with me collecting cash from working at Subway, while searching and searching for experience opportunities—preferably weddings. I emailed multiple Minnesota photographers asking if they would ever need an assistant or a second shooter. I planned a meeting even to grab coffee, but plans fell through. Little did I know my first wedding was just around the corner.


This semester, one of my required classes is Video and Audio Production. In this class, I met a guy named Forrest Seuser. We were grouped to work together in our first project. We started discussing what parts of the class we already knew how to do, but both of us had never done video before. Forrest manages his own photography business as well, and he was talking about multiple upcoming shoots he was getting.


He showed me his website, and I was instantly in love with his images. His edits are very like the presets I’ve made recently: warm tones (which is nice because we both had a similar style of how we envisioned the shoots to look). I almost didn’t believe him the first time he asked me to be his assistant. I was so taken aback and honored. Forrest is well-known for his work in Winona. This would be my first wedding shoot. He offered me a ride there and back, free experience, to just accompany him, follow, and learn—saying no was not an option.


I didn’t know much going into the shoot. Forrest made sure we were early. We were in the area an hour before we even needed to be there. The wedding was in his small hometown of Albert Lea, Minnesota. We stopped at a coffee shop where I got a vanilla flavored frappuccino (of course), and he got some food. You’ve got to stay energized for a wedding, guys!


I was behind Forrest the entire time, learning the best angles and figuring out who or what to shoot in order. I didn’t expect a lot of cardio, but I was surprised. When Forrest was done with one angle, he would run to get another perfect picture from the other side where the couple would be standing. Sometimes the people we were shooting would be moving, and in this case, photographers must move twice as fast just so they can catch up and still be at a good distance for great images.


Now, get this: I was sweating. This note is not even TMI—it’s normal. Wedding shoots are huge and take so much work. The wedding didn’t start until about 4:30 p.m., but Forrest and I were at the location by 11 a.m. We did a three-hour shoot of just the bride and groom, their family, and the wedding party. At this time, they did the bride reveal, too, which was just about the cutest thing!



Next, was the actual wedding. The lighting in the church was a lot better than I expected. I haven’t been to a wedding for a while, and I forgot about the ring bearer, the flower girl, and all the small details.



I took shots from the back, and Forrest took more near the front and center. I had the advantage to lay on the aisle while the two took their vows to get a good perspective of the couple. The wedding was small, and I thought people would look at me like I was crazy. However, no one did (thank God), and I was back up again before anyone even took a glance at me.


When the couple left from the church, their ride was an aesthetically-pleasing green truck. The flag that hung from the top spelled “Just Married” in large, black font. It was especially cool just watching them drive away in it. After that, Forrest and I got back to his car to stop at the bar where they would be taking their first shots of the night.



It wasn’t that long before we were back in his car again (We didn’t stay at the bar, like at all.) Now it was the best part of the wedding: the reception.



The minute Forrest parked in front of the reception tent, we were both practically screaming. I could see the lights from his car, and one thing everyone knows about me is that I am obsessed with lights and sunsets in pictures. I was so excited that I basically ran in. The lighting was difficult in the room, but I managed to capture the scene in a vision that made me happy.



The next shots we took were of some of the family again right outside. Forrest took the shots outside he was anticipating the most: His famous glowing umbrella shots. Forrest bought a luminescent umbrella online and uses it as a prop for his images. It was so cool being there and learning how he takes them. Flash isn’t easy to make look beautiful either, and I think he’s talented just for being able to do that.



One of my favorite things about shooting this wedding was grabbing portraits of the little kids. That was whether they were dancing, smiling, or hitting a piñata. I’ve never taken portraits of little kids, but it is something I am always open towards!



The end of the night involved dancing, taking pictures of Forrest next to the cake, talking to the family of the bride and groom, and making connections. I’ve been learning that connections are the most important thing that a business needs to be successful. I’ve also learned that collaborations help expand your viewers. I was impressed by how much I learned in a span of twelve hours by just shooting for my first wedding.


It is a lot of work, yes. However, every minute was worth it. It was incredible to work with Forrest. He was patient with any questions or concerns I had, and he kept me updated on what was happening and how to work in the busy wedding environment. I am assisting him for another wedding the weekend of my college’s Homecoming. I am excited to share those upcoming images, as well as the ones I am previewing in this article. I am so thankful for anyone who has modeled for me in the past that has helped me work my way to this point. I am thankful for any collaboration or experience I get with another photographer, such as Forrest, because it pushes me beyond my artistic intentions and boundaries.


Experiencing and shooting for one wedding is just the start. I can’t wait for more to come. And hopefully someday, I will be the first shooter for another couple’s wedding. The key is patience.

Natalie Elle Tyler is a senior at Winona State majoring in Creative Digital Media. She is minoring in Dance, Creative Writing, and Journalism. Natalie manages her own photography business. When she isn’t writing, she’s either doing a photoshoot, hanging out with friends, or dancing. Her ultimate dream is to make book covers through her photography while having the time to be a freelance travel photographer or photojournalist.
| 2018-20 Club President/Campus Correspondent | Hailey Seipel is a senior at Winona State University who is studying Applied & Professional Writing and Journalism. She has been passionate about writing ever since she was little, and a dream of hers is to author poetry, sci-fi and romance novels. Until then, she is interested in working as a creative/blog writer, technical editor or project coordinator after graduating. In her free time, Hailey enjoys listening to music and reading leisurely.