I had the great pleasure and honor to be the wedding photographer for Jesse & Chris. The ceremony was at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Massillon, Ohio.

The wedding was exceptionally fun for me because it presented me with a few creative challenges — which, by the way, is something I truly love. Unique obstacles are a great way to improve creativity in a new situation, and the lessons you learn under these circumstances can be taken with you into the next photography project and put to great use.

For this wedding, it was a very compressed time-frame. The Bride & Groom would be showing up only an hour before the ceremony. The real catch, however, was that there was a service being held in the church that was scheduled to last 15 minutes into that hour. That would give me 45 minutes to set up lights, photograph preparation, candid and detail shots; all of which no wedding should be without. I realized the day before that this was more a test of my own personal speed and aptitude rather than a test of my ability to come overly prepared. I loaded all of our gear into the car as usual and readied myself to move like the wind once the parishioners had filed out of the church and that’s exactly what I did when I arrived on the spot. Read on about my adventures below the video.

We arrived 15 minutes before anyone else and took that time to catch small detail shots outside of the church like the church sign, the flowers around the church and some wide angle shots of the church itself. Once the church was empty I swiftly entered, set up my studio strobe in the back very quickly, taking only 5 minutes or so to get everything dialed in. Deborah was assisting me and was tasked with going over to the reception hall to take pictures of the cake and any extra details there in case there wasn’t enough time after the ceremony to capture them myself. I should say that I was originally only asked to photograph the ceremony, but I know from experience that the detail shots serve as important pieces of precious memories to photograph, so  there was no way we weren’t going to deliver many of the shots we would normally do on a longer day’s shoot.

I moved so fast setting up the lights that I reached the Bride’s ready-room about 2 minutes before she did. The ready-room itself had it’s own set of challenges to be taken into account. For instance, it was a room in the basement of the church, which meant no windows. The walls were wood-paneling which meant the ambient room tone would be very warm. The ceiling, was white and low hanging, however. That gave me a great opportunity to light with my on-camera flash. Thanks to the white ceiling and the flash, the final images from the ready-room turned out to be gorgeous with a style that felt very much like large window light.

One fun, unexpected hurdle was that no one in the bride’s party knew how to lace up the corseted back of the wedding dress. Thanks to my wedding experience as a photographer I was able to step in at the request of the bride’s mother and cinch her up. I simply handed the camera duties to Deborah for a few moments and even ended up with a few photos of me lacing up the bride.

With time running out I managed to get the detail shots one usually requests, like the shoes, the presents, the flowers, etc. After that was done it was time to head upstairs with the bride and her father – both anxiously awaiting the processional music. I turned on my wireless transmitter for my studio strobe in the chapel and moved into position. From this point everything would move at the same pace as all other ceremonies and that would give me a chance to slow down into my normal photography tempo.

The ceremony was beautiful, as were the bride and groom, and their families. The studio light gave me the ability to shoot wonderfully lush and bright photos even though the day was rather dark and overcast outside. It’s always important to remember, as a wedding photographer, that churches are usually vast spaces with very little light. It’s important to know how to deal with each venue so you can deliver the pictures the Bride and Groom as expecting to see. This lighting scheme was perfect for the formals that came right after the ceremony as well.

After the ceremony the Bride and Groom were more than happy to have us stay and take more shots. This gave us time to take more photos of the reception hall and the details inside. It also gave us a chance to take some pictures of the Bride and Groom in a new setting, and since they were up for anything, with ideas of their own, we were able to catch some really special moments onto film.

In the end, it was a splendid time, filled with wonderful challenges and great people.


Benjamin Lehman is a Commercial Wedding Photographer in Northeat Ohio, Canton area.