Looking back at it now amidst a powered computer and air conditioning, it's pretty humorous how ignorant people are. Four-way stops at downed traffic lights were an afterthought as people plowed their way through the intersection. It took me extra time to get to the church to meet up with my shooting partner and brochacho, Andrew Markowitz, and after assessing the situation we were in for, we decided to eat at Taco Bell - the only place in Vienna that had electricity. I suppose if Dominion Power was going to let us down, we could at least be gas powered...
We met up with Elizabeth and her son, Charlie, a few months ago in Fairfax to go over the details. Andrew and I were really excited to shoot this wedding, since the bride and groom were so cool and laid back. Little did we know we'd be shooting in post-apocalyptic Vienna, Virginia! The church had no electricity, and because it was such a tiny chapel, the packed room of people who were already hot due to the 100+ degree temperatures outside got even more heat exhausted because of the sweltering heat that circulated in the church. The pastor did a great job of speeding things up a bit to spare everyone the temperature, but it did nothing to hinder the fun and celebration of the ceremony.
One major downfall was the lack of light inside the church, and even with the power outage, the pastor requested we not use flash during the ceremony. This was more challenging than usual, since churches are never well lit to begin with, so add NO LIGHTS to the equation, and you could correctly guess that this was more of a nightmare. Andrew and I had to fire at an uncomfortable and extremely high ISO (2000 - 3200) and a wider than normal aperture to cope. I wasn't thrilled with the idea, but I'm not going to tell the pastor to piss of and use flash out of spite! I felt even better about my decision to stick to the mighty 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, especially with the tight conditions of the church; there was no way anything other than a wide angle lens would work unless you hung out in the back. Despite it all, the ceremony was great and we got our shots.
Thankfully, the reception hall had power, so we knew we could at least get air conditioning inside. However, it was cramped and packed with people, so doing shots inside would be a little difficult. Plus, seven groomsmen and seven bridesmaids would be tough to squeeze together for some shots, so I knew Andrew and I would have to rush everyone into position and fire quickly. To make matters worse, the location was amongst an office park and a 7-Eleven, so it made finding a reasonably-scenic spot more of a pain than usual. Andrew spotted a wall with some ivy and we decided to make it work while avoiding the power lines and 7-Eleven signage.
Once all of that was out of the way, the reception was practically on autopilot. After you do enough weddings, you start to figure out the pacing for them and can anticipate, which is always a relief because you can focus on the technical aspects of trying to get the shot rather than panic about what else is to come. Plus, when the bride's family came all the way from Argentina and made homemade empanadas for the cocktail hour, it was evident it was going to be a great time! The challenge with this reception hall was that it had gold-plated ceilings, which gave a golden hue to everything we shot with our flash were it to find a way to bounce off of the ceiling and onto the subject. Being mindful of this, I created a preset on my 7D to adjust the white balance, so all I had to do was turn to that setting whenever I recognized I was shooting underneath the gold ceiling. It saved me a ton of time, especially in the rush of action that is a wedding reception!
Overall, it was a ton of fun to meet everyone and be a part of Elizabeth's and Dan's wedding! We certainly hope they had a great time and look forward to seeing them again soon! Enjoy the sampling of their wedding during Armageddon!