First time in Vegas, baby! I was very excited. Though admittedly, "The Strip" looked nothing like any of the television shows or movies I'd ever seen. Probably because all of those were shot on Freemont street, the details of which I will surely have to look up before my next visit. Though I did recognize many of the places from co-workers' pictures during HP World a couple years back.
I was excited for a whole slew of reasons. First of all, playing catch-up with the recently relocated suzanne1945
and her new roommate, Susan. Primarily because Dan had been able to come up with an impressive enough dowry to sway her to marry off her only child, michelle1963
at the famed `Little Church of the West.` Viva Las Vegas!
Which was itself an adventure, as they have a laundry list of complex "packages" from which to choose. For example, there's a fee to have their photographer shoot your wedding, but also a fee to not have their photographer shoot your wedding, should you choose to hire your own. Either way, they're getting paid. As an aside, I was very thankful our gracious hosts purchased the package in which we were allowed to sit. That said, the moment the words, "I do" were uttered, the doors were thrown open with much fanfare indicating GTFO. (I assume requisite applause immediately following nuptials was an additional, prohibitive cost as well). But I did get to meet and greet so many people and take so many pictures. I was in photography heaven.
Immediately following the wedding was the after-party (I believe some call this a "reception" but I wasn't the only one devoid of marital lore as that's what everyone was calling it) where there was a bonafide pig in a box (Cuban-style I overheard someone say), and metric ton of beer. I spent the rest of the day meeting fascinating people and capturing them with my beer-powered camera.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. There I was, patting myself on the back for scheduling mostly non-busy, short-distance, well-arranged Summer outings when the wedding announcement came. I was excited for my friend and replied with a sincere, "Congratulations." That's when GF excitedly states, "OMG WE HAVE TO GO!" And that's when I decided to shoot my first wedding.
I started looking at the lenses professional wedding photographers use, the Canon trifecta, mostly - three "L" series zoom lenses, only one of which I owned, the other two being far outside my budget. But this was also when I considered renting a lens for the first time - and while the prices of online lens renters is adequate, I really couldn't fathom sending and receiving packages on a schedule meeting my travel dates. So I turned to local businesses and found a store with outstanding reviews, B&C Camera right there in Las Vegas - they even had the one I was eyeing, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II. But I was sitting on the fence about spending the $40/day and trying to decided whether I wanted it for shooting a half-hour wedding wedding, the strip the following day, or both. Either way, it was my first stop from the airport.
They didn't have the lens.
It was already rented out. But a super-friendly and knowledgeable sales associate talked me into the Tamron version - same lens plus image stabilization (IS), and for the weekend rate of $40/Saturday-morning-through-Monday-even
ing! This same sales associate also solved my tripod problem. I have two at the house, but didn't want to ship them to Vegas and back, and Michelle was unable to find anyone local who had one. GF had suggested purchasing an el-cheapo and just throwing it away, but the last time I'd purchased a sub-par tripod, it didn't look sturdy enough to hold my camera let alone an enormous, expensive, rented lens on it. I'd decided to see if I could get a super nice one while in town, and then just ship it back. Despite all the many tripods they had available for sale, the sales associate showed me exactly one - the ProMaster XC525 - which I didn't know how to use, but after his hands-on tutorial, I was ready.
I hit the strip early the day after the wedding - something like 0600 - well before anyone was up and moving around the shopping areas and casinos. The fact that it was already over 100-degrees probably comes into play here, though I wasn't aware of it quite yet. GF and I walked to The Venetian
and had just set up my tripod near the indoor shopping area when I was approached by a security guard. "No tripods," he said.
"Tripping hazard," he said. His voice echoing off the enormous, empty, cavernous space.
That evening we decided to hit the Stratosphere at dusk, to capture the gleaming city from the tallest observation tower in the United States. With the minutes ticking away, we were stuck in a photobooth queue where people were getting their pictures taken in front of a green screen. I asked the attendant, "Is there a different line to the observation deck?" The attendant threw a brilliant smile at me and proclaimed, "Nope! These pictures are all part of the experience!"
"Really? They're free?"
"No, but if you decide you want them later," she said, "They're all part of the experience!"
"Is there a way to get to the observation deck bypassing the...experience?" Her smile disappeared in an instant. "You can go on by."
Frustratingly, tripods were disallowed from the Stratosphere as well.
The rest of the trip was filled with lots of walking, a cancelled flight due to the 115-degree heat, waiting for city buses then getting kicked off of them, getting stranded at a bus stop after dark across from a bailbonds place with caged soda machines, and absolutely no sleep whatsoever. That sales associate from the camera store? We exchanged shots and ended up shooting together before I left Vegas. I also met another super-friendly photographer at the pool party and am hoping she visits us in Newton for a grand shooting adventure!
All in all, it was indeed an, "experience" with good friends, new friends, and the reason we were all there to begin with, a wedding.