A Bride and Groom who demand a 100% photojournalistic approach

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by nicole_brown, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. I have a very wonderful bride and groom who are getting married this August and they are very specifc in what they want for the photography.
    First off, they have requested that there are no formal photos. They want everything candid. They don't want to be pulled away to have their photos taken...etc. They have guests from Europe coming too.
    Is this normal? I have always had a 30 minutes minimum of formal photograhic time. The rest was full on photojournalistic.
    How should I approach this wedding? I will have an assistant with me who is fully aware of their needs.
    My nervousness comes from parents who are paying for the wedding not getting the style that they like or wondering where the formal photographs are in the album. My bride insists that everyone is on board with their vision.
    On another note, they don't want an album. They want their selects on disc. Usually I put together a custom album for them. They want their images and will design their own album themselves. I have let them know that custom albums are available to photographer's only...that they would only get a consumer grade.
    I don't want to step on their dreams...but I want to make sure that at the end of the day everyone is happy with the images of their day.
    Thanks for your help!
    Nicole
     
  2. I think that a VERY detailed contract is in order!
     
  3. Oh yes, I did add that into my contract that the Bride and Groom request no formal photographs! :) Phew...
     
  4. What you're describing is fairly normal in my market in the UK. Many of my weddings are 100% documentary style without formals. I suspect it's something that will only become more popular, as I've noticed an increasing demand for it. I've always enjoyed shooting that way - hope you do too.
    All you need to manage client expectations is an addendum to the contract spelling out clearly that you've been engaged on the basis of producing no formal photographs. Make sure the b+g are the signatories and then it's clear you're working for them, not the parents. And make sure the b+g pay you themselves (the parents can give them the funds first, if necessary), or that the parents counter-sign the contract instead. That way everyone is clear about what's been asked for and you eliminate all conflicts of interest.
    As far as albums go, I've often found that people don't have any understanding of what a custom album looks or feels like. Most people have inaccurate preconceptions based on cheap albums they may have seen from other weddings. I suggest you show them the real deal and let them think about it. More often than not they'll come back for it later.
     
  5. Nice, easy and simple, make sure you take many pix.
    Also, when I work photojournalistic way I try to be seen as little as possible, people are unaware of the camera and ae more natural - my experience, do U agree?
    Hope it will turn out fine.
    Im sure you will take a few shots from teh ceremony that can be categorized as formal.
     
  6. My dream bride and groom. No formals. ;-)
     
  7. Don't be surprised if a couple days before the wedding, they change their minds. Mom's can be persistant.
    Other than that, enjoy shooting the way they requested.
     
  8. Not a wedding photog, but when you can`t control the situation you end up looking a t the couples back and are never at the right place at the right time. I think this is where you make 10000 pics and get 4 decent ones.
    Appeal to the mother of bride and promise to keep the time short for photos.
     
  9. ...I think this is where you make 10000 pics and get 4 decent ones​
    Judging by Nicole's portfolio I don't think she's going to have that problem. And PJ shooters are nearly always in the right place at the right time - that's the whole point of photojournalism.
     
  10. Agree with Marc, "Don't be surprised if a couple days before the wedding, they change their minds. Mom's can be persistent." But this may actually change during the wedding so be prepared to be flexible.
    My fear is that you may have a couple who actually don't really care about photography much at all and don't want to be bothered during the day. I hope you showed them several complete weddings and had them comment on what they "wanted" as opposed to what they didn't want. Be sure to manage their expectations ahead of time and during the day and stay loose........good luck.
     
  11. My nervousness comes from parents who are paying for the wedding not getting the style that they like or wondering where the formal photographs are in the album.​
    Neil hit the important point, imo.
    Probably the first thing I make sure everyone understands is that No Matter who is paying the for the wedding: I am working for the bride and groom Only. I take direction from the bride and groom only.
    In fact, last weeks wedding required me to call the bride and groom and reiterate that fact to them because the MOB was calling me and giving me conflicting information/instruction about the time line and how many formals she wanted. The "problem" was solved by one phone call and the MOB was lovely with me during the wedding day too; the bride called her mother and they worked it out ... no problems because the contract was clear on this point.
    Just make sure you have it in the contract right on the line below where you have the final Total to be paid ... I also have a line there for the bride and groom to initial that they have read the entire contract and agree with the terms stipulated. You work and take direction only from the bridal couple because it's their wedding day and it's their photographs ... no matter who is paying the fee for the wedding photography.
     
  12. Its likely that they don't know what they are asking for. How many of us have had clients who love our candids and say thats all they want but then order a bunch of formals to go in the album?
     
  13. Yay, shoot it and enjoy.
     
  14. I have a lot of pictures I take that actually "look" more candid than they actually are. I still have to "stage" to some extent (go stand over there, relax your body, put your hands in your pockets, that sort of thing). Make sure they realize what they may get with a complete PJ approach. Good luck!
     
  15. I once had one bride and groom requested no formal when they booked (even on the contract)...but, I checked with them a week before the wedding just wanna make sure we are still on the same page, and they changed their mind. End up, we had 30 mins formal session with families, plus they wanted an hour photoshoot just them before the ceremony ;)
    So, you might wanna put on your contract, but, double check with them before the event to make sure...
    I do enjoy, and love the formal bridal and groom though...
     
  16. I've done it before. And loved it. Actually I'd prefer it if every B&G wanted that, because I love how my work looks when I'm given liberation from stuffy portraits and all! (not that I'm complaining, it's just that the candid decisive moments are where I shine)
    You should be prepared to do some things totally differently though...
     
  17. I agree with Betty. Be sure they understand what PJ actually means, and that there is also creative photojournalism, which involves creating beautiful staged shots that are directed by the photographer, but look very natural and unposed. They're more what an artist might paint. If you shoot strict reality with no involvement, they won't have anything to hang on the wall later, and neither will their relatives. Many PJ shots in magazines have the subject looking directly at the camera. The Afghan girl on Nat. Geo. is an example.
    And even though her family is "on board" with the idea, be sure they, friends, etc. understand this too. You don't want it to reflect poorly on you to those who don't understand.
     
  18. I don't do weddings any more, but this one sounds like a fun one to shoot. If you normally use light stand(s) and mono lights, etc., maybe make sure you don't bring and leave in the car trunk, that way when someone changes their mind on the day of, you can say "sorry I didn't bring my formal gear..."
     
  19. I agree that understanding what is meant by "photojournalism" is the key. As a former newspaper photographer, it would almost be easier for me to cover a wedding as a true photojournalist with no formals, no posing or directing and no fancy lighting setups. But a newspaper photographer only has to come back with one or two publishable pictures out of an assignment, and a magazine photographer with maybe half a dozen. Trying to come up with enough shots to fill an album when you are truly shooting like a news photographer could be a challenge. As far as not being seen or noticed during a wedding, that's next to impossible to accomplish and still get good pictures. I can work a room and get all sorts of candids of people talking, laughing, joking -- not posing and staring at the camera -- but I do a lot of it with a wide angle lens from five feet away, and they definitely know I'm there.
     
  20. get paid UP FRONT, in full on this one.
     
  21. another non-wedding photog suggestion. Make sure the contract states that although you will try to capture every significant participant on picture, you cannot be held responsible if you do not, i.e. they will have no claim against you if you miss Nana.
     
  22. <My bride insists that everyone is on board with their vision>
    Sounds like a wild bunch of kids getting marrried.
    Anyho, if you decide not to do the wedding or if you need backup, drop me a line... this one looks like fun.
     
  23. Hmm. Reading this thread makes is giving me culture shock. :)
    Contrary to some opinions expressed here it is possible to shoot a wedding in pure PJ style and come back with enough excellent material to fill an album three or four times over. I know it's not what US wedding photography is about, but in many other places shooting for the story, rather than for a few manufactured moments, is actually fairly normal. Photojournalism done well can produce superb images well worth framing and hanging. And they're often treasured much more by people because they have the benefit of being real.
    BTW - there's a big difference between being seen and being noticed. If you do it right you're always seen but rarely noticed.
     
  24. You're working for them. If you're comfortable, that's fine. If you're not, then offer to walk away.
    You might want to ask them if their parents are OK with this. Another option is to offer them the "Basic 4" as I call it. One pose of each entire family, one of the bridal party and one of the bride and groom. You should be able to do this quickly and all the key participants will be photographed.
    If they don't want it, be sure that they know that some of their key people may not necessarily be photographed and that the "success rate" of PJ images is not as good as posed, controlled photography. Maybe don't use that word "controlled".
    Good luck and always get paid for you contract in full before the wedding....-Aimee
     
  25. google some other wedding photographers who use this trendy style that seems to be catching on lately. email them and find out what the deal is and how they do it.
     
  26. William's advice is spot on. So is getting at least 50% of the fee unconditional and in advance. Keep the MOB out of the loop. At my own wedding my own mother ultimately refused to come because she didn't like the colour of the cake. I had to call the bluff and pay for everything myself to take away her leverage. It was a nightmare that soured the whole event.
    Shoot the wedding the way you like which brings out your professional skills. If you take better posed shots than running around like a pap, then just say no thanks.
     
  27. There's a big difference between a couple asking that everything be candids and they don't want any posed shots as opposed to a couple who are photography-savvy asking for 100% photo-journalistic coverage.
    The key is still about managing expectations of the B/G and have them be clear on what they want and expect.
     
  28. I agree, get paid up front and then shoot as per the contract.
     
  29. Is this normal? I have always had a 30 minutes minimum of formal photograhic time. The rest was full on photojournalistic.

    It doesn't matter if its normal. Its essentially the same type of shoot you already do except the formals.
    How should I approach this wedding?

    The same way as all your other weddings except there are no formals.
    My nervousness comes from parents who are paying for the wedding not getting the style that they like or wondering where the formal photographs are in the album. My bride insists that everyone is on board with their vision.

    Do the parents have a phone number? How hard is it to call them to verify the brides assurances?
    You are making this more complicated than it is. Its not complicated at all. Make sure the contract is reflects the shoot plan accurately and do what you normally do except the formals.
     
  30. One little suggestion, I read above that the couple may not know what they are asking for. This may be true, 'candid' shots are great, but I would suggest you take the time to find out what photos they have in their heads. Maybe ask questions like what do you see when you think of your wedding day? What is that one photo you will want? This will help to give you some direction. I never shoot a wedding without asking these types of questions. Good luck!
     
  31. This is my dream wedding!
     
  32. aah, my dream couple...wish they were all like that.
     
  33. It's a simple answer...the bride & groom is the client and it's their wedding. I don't do weddings, but loosen up and go with the flow.
     
  34. I am a little surprised at those who say this would be their dream wedding to shoot. Such a statement says a lot about the photographer. One could conclude that those shooters dislike shooting formals and creatively posed shots and would rather just not be involved in directing and working with people. But doing so is at the heart of wedding photography, as much as capturing PJ and candids ever will be. You really have to be a people person to do this job, and part of the job is in eliciting beautiful photos from ordinary folks.
    My take is that if you really dread posing and working with people to do formals (or if you don't feel you're good at it), perhaps you're in the wrong line of work. I'm not being judgemental of anyone here, but just saying each of us needs to evaluate this within ourselves so we know we're on the right path. For me, the greatest challenge and most fun isn't doing the candids and PJ shots; those are easy and certainly fun. But it's getting beautifully lit and naturally posed portraits and group shots that are a huge and important part of what we do.
     
  35. My take is that if you really dread posing and working with people to do formals (or if you don't feel you're good at it), perhaps you're in the wrong line of work​
    Steve, I'm sure I could just as easily argue the exact reverse.
    Most documentary photographers would tell you that people skills are the most essential skill in their repertoire, and the single thing that makes them successful as story tellers. It takes a special insight to photograph people in an interesting way without their active involvement, and to read people's interactions to anticipate moments before they happen. And even more people skills to gently fit into emotionally significant situations in a non-invasive way.
    One could conclude that those shooters dislike shooting formals and creatively posed shots and would rather just not be involved in directing and working with people​
    That would be one conclusion. Another might be that people are interested in a bigger challenge and more opportunity to test their skills. If you don't shoot formals, then the only good pictures will be the ones you spot. It doesn't get harder - or more rewarding.
    ... it's getting beautifully lit and naturally posed portraits and group shots that are a huge and important part of what we do.​
    I think that depends on your perspective. It doesn't interest everyone. For instance, I have no personal interest in artificially posing people, telling them the expressions to wear on their faces, and bringing my own light rather than making the most of what's available. To me that's nothing more than photography by numbers - just a small variation on shooting still life, albeit to a bigger scale. :)
    Of course, I'd never actually argue that because there's no basis for assuming one approach is better than the other. It's a varied market, with varied client needs, and varied styles to fill them, and I have plenty of respect for people who work differently from myself. Especially for those who specialise in formals or creative portraiture.
    My take? Let's just be happy we're all different. At least it means we're not all chasing the same clients :)
     
  36. jtk

    jtk

    Who's the photographer? You or the B&G? If they don't want what you do, point them to another photographer. Isn't there enough biz to go around?
     
  37. Neil, thanks for giving the opposite perspective on this. My responses would be:
    "Most documentary photographers would tell you that people skills are the most essential skill in their repertoire, and the single thing that makes them successful as story tellers. It takes a special insight to photograph people in an interesting way without their active involvement, and to read people's interactions to anticipate moments before they happen. And even more people skills to gently fit into emotionally significant situations in a non-invasive way."​
    Very true. However, you are speaking of a very different skill set than the one needed for doing great formals and creative portraiture. One involves being quiet, anticipating the action and shots, and being unobtrusive; the other requires direct communication skills, and eye for bringing harmony and art to the setting and subjects, and the ability to work with artificial lighting when the existing lighting simply does not lend itself to great results (and this is often the case).
    "If you don't shoot formals, then the only good pictures will be the ones you spot."​
    True again. But this is more of a "let's see what life throws us" approach. We still have to be good at influencing reality at times too.
    "I have no personal interest in artificially posing people, telling them the expressions to wear on their faces, and bringing my own light rather than making the most of what's available. To me that's nothing more than photography by numbers - just a small variation on shooting still life, albeit to a bigger scale."​
    Neither does Joe Buissink. However, he does employ a formals shooter who DOES specialize in doing just that, so he is free to do his thing. I think this is a good approach. In any client family group, there will be those who will appreciate and even demand both styles of photos. As for me, I do both styles and work hard to excel at all of it, because I find it rewarding.
     
  38. A small, tinkling, alarm bell went off when I read your post. I had a large wedding where the mother of the bride paid for everything and the groom's mother ran the photo show. I would just make sure the expectations of those that are paying for the photography are the same as the B&G. I won't go into my problems except to say it took a while and a little financial sacrifice on my part to make everyone happy. I learned something.
     
  39. I also think there is a HUGE difference between shooting still life and shooting people. Still life doesn't blink, look off to one side, act silly or engage in side conversation, doesn't get tired, doesn't sweat, and doesn't respond to verbal interaction. People do.
     
  40. Hey, Steve - ever tried shooting food? It does almost all those things, apart from the blinking and conversation :)
     
  41. In any client family group, there will be those who will appreciate and even demand both styles of photos.
    Perhaps this is true, but since they're not hiring the photographer, these family members should work with the bride and groom to discuss their wishes and see if they can be fit into the idea of the wedding that the bride and groom want. Perhaps this bride and groom just dislike being the subject of posed photography and want their wedding day to be a nice experience. I don't see how it is the photographer's task to persuade the client to buy something which they have said they don't want. If I were the client I would find it very annoying and I'd quickly try to find another photographer who is more service minded.
     
  42. Much would depend upon the venues. It's rare that I have been able to go 100% available light. My last solo wedding was a beautiful, huge old Catholic church with tons of glass and architecture. Problem was that it was on a Friday night in December. We were lierally we were in the dark
    They didn't want formals so I nixed some lighting gear... bad move. Mother took over and it was appalling. It was my worst wedding since my early efforts. Thankfully it was my last.
    Positives... everyone will have a P+S so that might give you more freedom
     
  43. this is going to be a nice and easy shoot for you. take a few shots, mingle, eat and shoot some more. as long as you have plenty of pictures of every guest everything should be fine.
     
  44. Neil, I did shoot a groomsman who looked like a cauliflower once...and I've shot a few "hot tomatoes"! ;-)
    Ilkka, I don't think I ever said it was our task to persuade them to buy something they don't want. All I said was to be sure the client lets friends and family know what they're asking you to do and how you're being asked to shoot.
     
  45. "My nervousness comes from parents who are paying for the wedding not getting the style that they like or wondering where the formal photographs are in the album. "
    "Probably the first thing I make sure everyone understands is that No Matter who is paying the for the wedding: I am working for the bride and groom Only. I take direction from the bride and groom only."
    Whatever happened to:
    "He who pays the piper calls the tune"
    I'm not a photographer, but my first repsonsibility is always to the person who is paying the bill. If as already suggested, the parents wont give the B&G the money to arrange the photographer as they want to, then consider yourself warned!
     
  46. From a "legal" standpoint, the responsibility to complete the contract is with the people or businesses signing the contract. So even if "Mom" is actually paying for it, if things go in the dumpster and you have to go to court, you sue the parties to the contract. The unpaid vendor is unlikely to be accepting of the "Well, I signed the contract but I was supposed to get the money from Mom and she hates the florist so she didn't pay me and I didn't pay the photographer." Nor if you "try" to sue "Mom," will it get through court because the judge will look at the contract and ask why you are trying to sue someone who isn't named or obligated by contract? Bang. Dismissed.
    The reality is that there are family dynamics going on and even if the couple seems positive that all they want are "informals," there's no good reason not to be ready for at least some changes of plans or cicumstances. "Formals" would seem to be part of the expected repertoire for a wedding photographer so being able to make a good effort at accomodating the request would seem reasonable. You may not be able to squeeze 30 minutes of formals into a day already running behind schedule but I'd be surprised if a photographer told a client, "It's not in the contract." if asked to shoot "A quick group of me and my family." and they are all standing right there.
     
  47. I'd be surprised if a photographer told a client, "It's not in the contract." if asked to shoot "A quick group of me and my family." and they are all standing right there.
    But the client here has said that "they don't want to be pulled away to have their photos taken." This means that if they want a group shot, the initiative comes from them, not the photographer. You then take the shot once they're organized themselves in formation and that's it. Doesn't even depart from the requested style since you're not directing them.
     
  48. Find out from the Bride and Groom how they would like you to reply to someone who asks for a posed photo whether the bride and groom are in the photo or not. They may not want you doing that during their wedding and they're your clients. If someone requests a posed photo at the wedding, you should be able to very easliy say that the bride and groom have instructed me not to take any posed photos. If you'd like to check with them, that's fine.
    This way you're following instructions and not the bad guy....-Aimee
     
  49. Aimee, good advice... That's one of my biggest peeves - when someone other than b&g tap you on your shoulder and ask you to take a posed picture of them. Especially once they've had a few drinks :) Certainly most wedding photographers today do employ a photojournalistic style, but it's often hard to avoid stiff family formals.
    I give my clients a selection of my 'signature' images as well as others globally adjusted in high res - and I don't want to spend the time to process so many formals... Even the b&g are often unaware of how tedious formals with family members can get... Any other thoughts on how to deal with this? Thanks!
     
  50. I've never considered being asked to take a shot by guests to be a problem or a peeve. After all, as long as it's okay with the client, it's a shot that I may be able to sell later when the photos are hosted online. Better that they have access to a properly lit photo than an awful point and shoot shot by guest cameras. Plus, it serves to show the difference between what a pro can do vs. cheap p/s cameras.
     
  51. Thanks, Steve! You're right - it's my first season shooting weddings, and I haven't yet implemented a system of online galleries for proofing. That's why when it comes to 'upselling,' the frustration comes from having to process those shots. I just don't know what the best way to go is, and whether I should sell digital files or prints...
     
  52. I've just switched to Zenfolio after a long stint with Pictage (which I would not recommend). With Zenfolio, you can sell a whole host of photo prints and products as well as selling digital downloads of individual images and can set any price you wish, and any level of usage rights you wish. The profits are way better on Zenfolio and you don't have to fulfill a thing. All you need is to collect e-mail addresses of guests and invite them. Makes it easy to get those after-event sales to friends and family. Not that there are many, but...
     
  53. Katya,
    The objective here (assuming that this is business and not a hobby) is to derive as much income as you possible can. One approach is to offer the digital files for sale, but then discount that price based on print and album sales. If you structure this properly and make it look attractive to your customer, everyone can benefit....-Aimee
     
  54. Steve, having a preference for on style over the other does not really say anything about a photog's ability and communication skills. Just because one prefers the PJ approach does not mean that one fears posing or dreads dealing with people. A candid shot can say a lot more than a pretty posed picture. You are still in search of the right angle, composition, lighting and mood but you are in the backroound. The anticipation, reading the subject, and finding the right moment is what brings an image to life. Posed shots can be creative but more time is spent being a director or a creator of an emotion than being able to capture the moment as it occurs naturally. It's like comparing Yervant with Joe Buissink. They each have very different styles but they are both extremely talented. Yervant likes to pose and prompt while Joe prefers to be in the shadows looking for the right image. Joe is not any less creative than Yervant. Don't confuse our statements by inferring that we don't like posing, but at times one just wants to watch things as they unfold naturally. It's all just a matter of preference and style.
     
  55. "Just because one prefers the PJ approach does not mean that one fears posing or dreads dealing with people."​
    I never said they did. I only said one could conclude from that statement a dislike for doing formals or dealing with people. I didn't blanket the statement over everyone, but merely suggested that it could show an underlying preference. And if it does, in the case of any given photographer, then the rest of what I said would apply as my opinion.
    "Joe is not any less creative than Yervant."​
    I never said he was. I like and respect them both. I personally like to shoot in both styles.
    "Don't confuse our statements by inferring that we don't like posing, but at times one just wants to watch things as they unfold naturally. It's all just a matter of preference and style."​
    Don't confuse my statements as applying to everyone who'd rather shoot an all PJ wedding. Again, see my statement above. Don't confuse my personal opinions as factual declarations. They are my OPINIONS, based on my experience and thoughts. And others have their opinions to share as well.
     
  56. Well, I just wanted to say thank you for your support on this huge question. You gave me so much to chew on and think about.
    The best advice was :
    1. Be clear in the contract on the couple's wishes for no formal photographs.
    2. Talk to another WPJA member, about how they do things and what they would do in this situation.
    3. The Bride and Groom are my boss.
    4. Loosen up, and have fun.
    5. Check in a week before...just in case they change their minds on the four standards of formals.
    The Bride and Groom are heavily involved in theatre/production. They prefaced everything with the fact that they are in the business of making things appear real, when really they're acting or posing...so I get the background of why they are asking what they are asking for. They don't want creative posed shots even. They just want their photos to be real and without intervention of any kind.
    I will have a second shooter on hand who is completely aware of what the B&G want. I'm even insisting that he meet with them way ahead if time.
    When I talked to the WPJA member, he said, have a little talk with the bridal party ahead of time, "I've been hired to be as photojournalistic as possible. Just forget I'm here and have fun. Don't worry about smiling at the camera and posing. Just relax and enjoy your day."
    The MOB and FOB are from Europe so I won't be able to be in touch with them as they speak another language too.
    They are totally fine with flash which I am thankful for. Phew :)
    I'll let you know how it goes.
    Once again, I just wanted to say thanks for all your great advice in this forum!
     
  57. Glad it is you,, I am too old school to do it !!
     

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