wedding photography

The Great Snake Escape

When someone thinks about wedding photography as a profession, one might think of a job surrounded by beautiful flowers, flowing glasses of celebratory champagne, and romantic wedding venues. I’m not going to lie – those things are all pretty great. Often though, there are also challenges that a photographer has to navigate to make sure the clients get the best photographs possible.

When you’re a wedding photographer, couples are entrusting you with one of the most important days of their lives. That means being there for your couples, 100% present and working your butt off, no matter if you’re sick, tired, in a bad mood, whatever.

Sometimes there are even dangers on the job. At a recent wedding out in a nature area, I was posing the bride’s garter for a detail shot on a wood fence post when I heard a guest say, “I don’t want to freak you out but there’s a rattlesnake right next to you.” The snake had blended in to the brush and I had not seen it until it was too late.

Now, when I hear the words rattlesnake and next to you in a sentence, my heart is definitely going to start racing and my overactive fight-or-flight response kicks in. In a moment of sheer terror and perhaps great stupidity, I ended up ballet leaping over the rattlesnake, camera in hand. My shoes flew off, but luckily I landed far enough away to escape getting bitten. Also in my favor was the fact that the reptile had just eaten a rodent or something, was very sluggish and not particularly interested in striking me. The ranger shooed the snake away and five minutes later, still pumped up with adrenaline, I gathered my shoes and went on to photograph the wedding ceremony.

I imagine if I actually got bitten by a poisonous snake while on the job, that would be one of the very few occasions where it’s OK to leave a wedding early. The whole situation was a good reminder to pay extra attention to my surroundings when photographing in nature, but even after all that, I got to watch two people start their lives as a married couple. Those photographs will live on long after the memory of my snake escape fades.