Mike and Nikki, I have a confession for you guys. The night before your wedding I got food poisoning.
In typical Mary Dougherty fashion, I scouted out the local restaurant scene in Culpepper before arriving and found a nice restaurant for dinner the night before the wedding. Typically this story ends well – after eating a delicious dinner I head back and finish prep on my equipment to ensure everything is in place for the next day. While the evening started out the same, it took a turn for the worst. I didn’t notice anything was wrong a first, until I woke up in the middle of the night in a hot sweat and terrible feeling I’ll just describe as… a terrible feeling. Having never experienced food poisoning before on the one hand I didn’t have anything to compare it to… but on the other hand I knew immediately what was going on. Once the food was out of my system I was able to get a few hours of sleep, determined to not let anything stop me from photographing the day – and doing it well.
That was the closest I’ve come to potentially not being able to show up for work at a job where there are no sick days or makeups. I did almost completely recover by the time I was at the wedding, and I doubt if anyone could tell what had happened, so in many ways it wasn’t that close of a call. However, it’s something that as a photographer I have to think about and prepare for.
So, what is my back up plan for a worst case scenario? My network of photographer friends. Having a large base of people to call on to either fill in, or help you find a replacement, is of unbelievable value. If I can’t be there, someone else will be.
Through the years I’ve had the privilege of meeting and becoming friends with some amazing photographers who I can count on to help in case of emergency. In addition, as my business had evolved and grown I photograph the majority of my weddings with a second shooter, so there is already a built in back up. I know that I would do anything to make sure if I can’t make it to the wedding and photograph the day, someone just as talented will be there. First, I’ll try to survive through whatever I’m dealing with… food poisoning included.