At the B&H Event Space http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/EventSpace.jsp we are always striving to provide our creative community with education and inspiration of the highest quality. With the wedding season approaching, we wanted to make sure that this community has a complete educational experience on producing a wedding. We decided early on that we would pull out all the stops and do this right. We wanted to hold a “real” wedding, with a bride and groom and a great wedding photographer—and invite our aspiring photographers as guests for an afternoon “wedding” ceremony.
One of the great challenges in running the B&H Event Space is classes always being more popular than we anticipate. Our speakers too often draw a larger crowd than our space can hold, and B&H isn’t in the business of turning away customers; even more so when we invite a guest professional like Andy Marcus—one of our most popular speakers and a legend in the wedding industry, who has shot the weddings of Eddie Murphy, Donald Trump, Kelsey Grammer, Billy Baldwin, and Chynna Phillips, among others. So we had to get real creative.
Our first order was to scout the West Side Jewish Center (across the street from the B&H SuperStore and the Event Space) to see if it could support our needs. I had always seen the first floor in use and assumed that this was the main area, but upon following a narrow staircase that wound its way upstairs, what stunned me was the main sanctuary. I was shocked at the antiquity, charm and size of the holiest space in the synagogue. Our team went to work securing this location. Due to its sanctity, it took some clever work to be able to use it. Great location: Check.
Next, we turned to our long-time educational Event Space partners, David Piazza and Westcott. In addition to Westcott’s great lights, umbrellas and other gear, Piazza has always been able to secure us awesome professional models for photography and lighting classes, and this time, we needed them to come dressed in a wedding gown and tuxedo. The idea was to provide a bride, groom and a fancy-dressed guest for Andy and the workshop attendees to photograph. Lighting and models: Check.
Next, we had to think about gear—both for the shoot, and for the attendees to handle and learn about (this is B&H, remember)—and this is where Canon, Lexar, and the Gradus Group shine.
Canon has a slew of pro lenses that are favorites of the professional wedding shooter, lenses like the ultra-fast 85mm f/1.2 and the seminal 24-70mm f/2.8. To sweeten the experience, we wanted Canon to showcase their pro Pixma printers and have technicians on hand to explain workflow and to print images shot with the models, at the Westcott booth.
Weddings require lots of specialized gear too, so we would have Oben tripods, Bolt Battery packs and Vello Shutter Boss remotes to trip flashes.
And this is where Lexar, the leader in memory, comes in. Think about it: you are covering a wedding, getting paid the big bucks, and with all your high-end gear you put an inferior memory card into your camera, which doesn’t fail to fail. That is a wedding nightmare that can be avoided by simply using a professional memory card like the ones from Lexar. Pro-Gear to demonstrate: Check.
What else will a photographer need to make it big shooting weddings? We like to think outside the box, and invited a special partner: our friends at SquareSpace. The best way for a studio to show off its killer images is a well-designed website—and one that’s easy to maintain. SquareSpace offers just the thing, a template-driven, one-stop Web solution. They would send staffers to answer questions and offer free trial websites. Photographer Promotion: Check.
Lastly, we really wanted to give the feel of a wedding to get the photographers in the right spirit, so we decided that after Andy’s presentation and shootout we would offer a full reception where you could hang out with the “bride and groom,” Andy, our B&H pros and our great educational partners—complete with gourmet hors d'oeuvres and refreshments. Ambiance: Check.
To facilitate all this, we had to take up all three floors of the Center (plus the balcony!), had to move lots of 100-year-old wooden furniture, generate power for multiple light and sound-production setups in a 1903 building, and do so many fun errands.
Lo and behold. It all came together so beautifully, one of the B&H Event Space’s most successful events. Andy was great. The location worked (it became crowded; still too many showed up—sorry). The crowd was wonderful. The bride and groom were stellar. We had goofy vows and a 6'5" flower girl, poignant questions and spirited answers, and a fun reception with generous promotional discounts from our partners.
While we enjoyed providing this experience to our loyal Event Space attendees, who made it a point to come to the wedding, we wanted to be able to give this experience to folks all over the world on the Internet. Our online-video team came to the fore by shooting in the synagogue with multiple cameras, elaborate audio and high-tech lighting (a lesson by itself, for another day, perhaps). With a crew of no fewer than 10 professionals, they captured the essence of the event, to be provided here free of charge to this entire wonderful community.
We hope you enjoy our event as much as we enjoyed producing it.