Damp, hungry, and stiff. Part I

wedding photography

The soggy truth about summer weddings.

There’s a longstanding tradition of outdoor weddings in the summer. When you see beautiful wedding photos with backgrounds of lush green leaves and flowers in full bloom, remember that a lot has been edited out of those pictures. 

Perspiration, for instance.



In a way, I admire the optimism of people who have summer weddings. They are so in love that they think summer won’t affect them in the way it affects other humans.

This is how I feel after shooting a summer wedding.

Where I live, in North Carolina, a summer wedding may as well be Apocalypse Now. People in formal attire start to melt the moment they hit the humid air. Hair frizzes instantly and makeup dissolves. Guests must be issued paper fans to circulate the air and keep mosquitoes away. No guest feels romantic with their clothes sticking to the small of their back. 

Yet through the miracle of photographic technology, the wedding couple looks impeccable.

I, on the other hand, look like a Gatorade commercial wearing a tie. I know there are more physically demanding jobs than wedding photography – here’s a shout out to roofers, first responders, and professional wrestlers. But aside from maybe coaching college basketball, I think wedding photography is the sweatiest job you can do while wearing a suit. 

My jacket acts as a layer of thermal insulation, and the pull of the camera straps just intensifies the oppressiveness. I’ve chosen a profession that often requires me to wear layers, and my busiest season is when the earth is closest to the sun.

In short, working a summer wedding is not pretty.

damp, hungry, and stiff - Johnny Knight Photo
This is what I actually look like. Photo by Leigh Barrett

“Why don’t you take off your jacket?” you ask. Because the jacket conceals the wet suit that is my dress shirt. I once worked a July wedding in just a collared shirt with a t-shirt underneath – no jacket or tie – and by the time the ceremony was done, it looked like I’d taken a shower fully dressed. After the formal photos, the groom came up to me like someone approaching a wounded dog. His brow was furrowed as he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Are you okay? You can sit down if you need to.” 

Only later did I realize that I’d forgotten to put on sunscreen. So not only did I look like I’d just gone swimming in my suit, I was also sporting a baked-red face. Plus the humidity was making my hair kink up like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein. I’m pretty sure he thought I was having a heart attack. 

The reward, of course, comes when I send the wedding couple their photos. When they see how lovely they look in the pictures, it more than makes up for my waterlogged summer day. 

Read Part II: Fuel.

2 thoughts on “Damp, hungry, and stiff. Part I

  1. This reinforces that Robin and Justin made a good decision when scheduling their Glencoe wedding indoors. We still love the pictures, 10 years later, Johnny. Glad to see of your continued success AND your continued sense of humor!

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