Have you ever seen the term “GWC” on photography forums? Usually, you’ll see it if you hang around the places where they talk about wedding photography. It stands for “Guy With Camera”, and generally it isn’t a positive term. It is what the pros call a guest (and apparently usually a guy-guest) who brings his DSLR to a wedding and/or reception and shoots photos. Some photographers don’t like GWC’s, while others seem not to worry about it.
I have to admit that I have been a GWC at a number of weddings. I’m proud of it – my friends have some photographs they treasure, and generally my photos are more candid-type shots that I hope wouldn’t compete in any way with the official photographer’s ability to make his/her money. My shots are personal, and they clearly aren’t professional, especially since in those days I wasn’t at the level of knowledge I am now about my equipment and especially exposure and composition.
I’ve also always made a point to stay out of the official photographer’s way, and I’ll usually try to find a quick moment to let them know that and that they are free to let me know if I need to move, stop shooting, whatever.
Then there is the other side. For example, when your workplace knows you like photography and have some decent equipment. I got asked to shoot a company event that will be attended by a senior executive and the Governor of our state, and I said “yes” before I even thought about it.
Now I’m thinking about it, and I’m worried.
Firstly, I don’t own an off-camera flash. The good news there is my buddy is loaning me his SB-900, which was Nikon’s flagship pro-grade flash until a recent update to the SB-910. The bad news is I haven’t used anything other than my pop-up flash for…ten years? YouTube has some help, but sorting through YouTube isn’t much fun.
Secondly, I won’t have much of a chance to see the venue before the event.
Thirdly – well, even if their expectations are low (they’d hire a pro if they weren’t), mine aren’t. I want to do well.
So what is a nervous Enthusiast Photographer to do? I go back to Scott Kelby and his Digital Photography series. I’m guessing the sections on weddings will be the most helpful, but I’ll be scanning for flash techniques, too. I’m also going to re-read Lighting 101 on Strobist.com, which is a great resource.
I’m probably worrying too much about it, and I’ve got great equipment, but photography is about getting it right, and I want to do that! Suggestions welcome!