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Be Kind to your Future Self : surviving the triple-header

October 6th, 2010  |  Published in Featured, Shoot

This is the time of year when we wedding photographers are as busy as we are ever going to be, shooting weddings back to back to back, fielding inquiries, designing wedding albums and figuring out Christmas deadlines. The more organized you can be before you head out to double headers or even triple headers the better off you will be, right? These are some of the things I have done:

When packing for the wedding weekend, I make outfit packets. I wear all black when I work, which is a pragmatic decision, easy mix and match. Pants, shirt, underwear and socks in a plastic bag and I make as many of these bags up as I need. My brain gets fried easily and I don’t want to be left with any decisions that I don’t need in the middle of a triple. I just rip open a bag and put the clothes on. I always bring two pairs of shoes. Shoes need to dry out between wearings to keep foot pain to a minimum.

Most of my weddings are a couple of hours away from home, so a double or triple-header involves hotel stays. I print out my hotel reservation information, printed (Mapquest) directions (in case my GPS dies) and staple the whole thing together chronologically. As each day passes, I fold back the sheets to reveal that day.

I also print out my wedding questionnaires with addresses for the venues, emergency phone numbers, names and special requests for the day. I write the day of the week on this with a magic marker. When I am bleary-eyed, a big handwritten day of the week is easier for me to locate than tiny type.

All of the papers, including copies of the contracts, go in a sturdy plastic zippered envelope that lives between my emergency brake and the passenger’s seat.

I gas up the car, check the washer fluid, the spare key. I take the non-wedding junk out of it. I like to vacuum my car to give myself a physiological edge, but you may not be as gross with your car as I am with mine. J

“Holy crap” cards live in the glove box of my car. These are the one and two gig cards that are too small to bother with at a wedding anymore. These have saved my ass when I’ve shot news stories, never yet (knock on wood) at a wedding. I may have to send someone out to WalMart or switch to jpgs, but it’s cheap (free) insurance.

I pack my camera bags by habit. I keep my “grab it” bag packed with the exact same set of lenses and flashes and cords and cards. Each item occupies a specific place in my bags, at the end of the night, as I am packing up, I will quickly see if there are any “holes” in my bags. Then I can track back mentally: “Where did I leave my macro lens?” and I can go find it.

I pack the car the same way. My laptop bag, camera bag, back up camera bag, light bags all go in the same places in the car, every time.

I have an old camera bag specifically for battery chargers. I keep my cell phone charger in a different spot since I regularly travel without camera gear. I leave the cell phone charger in my laptop bag where I am used to finding it. The trick isn’t to adopt my system, it’s to adopt a system for everything and then don’t switch it up every week.

My best tip: at the end of the night, before I leave the venue, I harvest the batteries out of my gear. The spent batteries go into a little bag, which goes into the charger bag. The minute I walk into that hotel room, I set up my charger station. I carry a power strip with me and plug it in and get my very first round of batteries charging immediately, no hunting for batteries. When I only had one charger, I’d set the alarm for the middle of the night to switch over batteries. That sucked, but before I bought a second charger, it was the solution.

Then I grab the remote, find a rerun of Law and Order and start downloading camera cards. I keep a small portable drive (with a card reader and all the cords I need) in my laptop bag. I download that day’s wedding onto the portable drive and put the used cards in a plastic baggie and store them in a never used (during weddings) pocket of my camera bag. The portable drive sits in my glove box. This way, I can release worrying about the wedding files; I have the cards safe with me, and the portable drive, separate, in the car.

Last thing, but most importantly: Hydrate. Days before the weekend, I start drinking water like no tomorrow. If I can get good and juicy before I even start on the weekend, then I will be way ahead of the game. I keep water in the car, drink when I can at the wedding and drink big glasses at the end of the night. Gatorade is my choice to recover with in the morning on the way to the next wedding. Proper hydration prevents sore muscles and makes it possible, even fun, to jump out of bed to do it all over again for another wedding the next day.

Anyway, that’s it. I would absolutely love to know what you do to prepare for weddings.

About Andree

Andree Kehn has written 38 post in this blog.

Andree is a fun Bethel Maine Wedding Photographer, who specializes in contemporary photojournalism. She eats shoots and leaves.

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