Ian Kuhn Photography | Keep Calm and Stay Cool

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Keep Calm and Stay Cool

June 26, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

It is that time of year again, and this is a post I’ve had in the back of my noggin’ for some time but just haven’t written down until now.  As much as the technical part of photography is important, it’s also important to remember the professional side.

Part of the professional side is to dress the part.  As many of you know during the spring months I work for Grad Images doing graduation photography throughout North Carolina.  Just like any other business there is a dress code.  We have to dress professionally.  That means dark suit and tie for the gentlemen and a dark outfit for the ladies.  During the spring it gets warm in North Carolina.  Some graduations are indoors and some are outdoors. 

The indoor ceremonies can still get extremely hot.  When you’re in a coliseum with literally thousands of people, and you’re under hot lights waiting for graduates to cross the stage, it can get really warm.  The outdoor ceremonies…well if we’re lucky they’re under a tent that will at least deflect some of the heat.

Given that we’ve officially started summer this past week, and June and July are popular months for weddings I figured I’d talk about staying cool while staying professional.  Given that my own wedding to my long time fiancée (often referred to here as “wifeling” because we’re not yet married, but she’s far more than a fiancée to me) is next week, and that I just passed an article about  the professionalism of photographers from the viewpoint of a wedding planner in a HuffPost article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sandy-malone/5-cardinal-sins-committed_b_5435815.html), I figured I’d throw my two cents in. 

Professionalism is always important, and part of that is looking the part.  As I mentioned before with Grad Images we have to be in suit and tie at all times when we’re at a graduation.  Weddings are very similar.  For weddings and other large events it is a very similar concept.  While I personally don’t believe you need to be in a suit and tie all the time at a wedding or special event, it mostly depends on the level of wedding/event, but you should always blend in if not be better dressed than the event itself. 

For example, our wedding is going to be extremely informal.  We have both been married previously, and feel that this is more of a picnic with friends that happens to have a wedding taking place more so than an outdoor wedding.  I, as the groom, will be in slacks and a polo, or short sleeve dress shirt, no tie.  She’ll be wearing a sundress.  Shame on me, but we’re not going to have a photographer there, but if we did, we’d expect him to dress similarly.  I don’t want the poor person dying out there while we’re all staying (relatively) cool.  However, if it were me, I’d probably wear a light shirt and tie. 

Again, we should always blend into the background.  The Huffpost article mentions a photographer who wore bright orange shorts which were visible in every shot just about from guests at the wedding.  You should never be spotted.

I did a few events for the Buffalo Museum of Science while we lived in Buffalo and I was working there, and I also have done events down here.  Fundraiser?  Shirt and tie.  The exception to that was one of the Buffalo Museum of Science events I did I wore my museum polo, but that’s because that is what every BMS employee was told to wear for that event. 

For the Evening with the Alexanders event I did at the Charlotte Museum of History, I was given a shirt by event coordinator.  Again, that’s what I wore because that’s what made me blend in. 

As I said though a lot of this comes down to wearing clothes that more or less make you really warm, if not downright hot.  What follows are a few simple things you can do to stay cool, while still staying professional. 

Many of these tricks I actually learned as a patron of various Renaissance Festivals.  (Typically either Sterling Renaissance Festival, in Sterling, NY, or the Carolina Renaissance Festival down here in Huntersville, NC).

  • Stay hydrated.  Drink water, and lots of it, drink it every chance you get.  Come graduation season I keep a case of water in my trunk. It can get really warm, but warm/hot water is better than no water.
  • Stay calibrated.  What I mean by this is maintaining your body’s electrolyte levels.  At the Renaissance Festivals, that typically means eating a pickle.  Wedding or special event, eat something salty…then drink lots of water.
  • If you find yourself getting too warm and possibly overheating, find a bathroom and run cool water over your wrists.  It’s one of the tricks I learned as a festival goer in Sterling.  Running cool water over your wrists will help bring down your core temp and get you back to normalcy. If you’re able to, and it won’t mess up what you’re wearing, you can also put a cool, damp paper towel on the back of your neck and that will help cool you off as well.

I realize that some of these are not always an option.  When you’re doing a graduation, or a wedding you need to do as much to keep cool before the ceremony begins and just bear through it during the ceremony itself.  Special events where you’re wandering is a little bit easier.  The plus side is that most graduations or weddings, the ceremonies themselves don’t last much more than an hour typically so if you can do what you can beforehand you should be good to go.  When you’re at a reception you still need to be mindful of the time, especially because (most) wedding receptions will still have a schedule. There’s typically, the cake cutting, the first dance(s), garter & bouquet toss…not a lot of time to use the bathroom and cool off, but if you take the opportunities when you’re able, you should be fine. 

Remember folks...


Keep Calm, and Stay Cool.


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