Guests with cameras at wedding and posting on facebook

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by ashlea_terhune, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. Wedding guests seem to be getting more aggressive taking pictures, often getting in the way of the shot. Besides the obvious problem with posed photos and people looking at several different cameras, they are getting in front of me during the first dance and cake cutting. Should I amend my contract to bring this to the bride and groom's attention to the problems these situations cause? Also, a friend of mine and I have both had the same experience following the wedding: Guests posting the images on facebook in a manner that it makes them look like they were they hired as the primary of them even included a link to "download high resolution images." Even though I give the client my files, I often get orders from guests. I find this action will be not only misleading and confusing the guests about who was the photographer, it hurts my bottom line. What's the answer....tighten up my contract or talk to the people posting the images? Thanks for your help.
  2. Are these cameras given to the guests by the Bride and groom (the instant use camera thing) or their own cameras? If they were given to the guests then as a civilian I think it would be reasonable for you to discuss it with the client so that they realize that this tactic could impair your ability to produce your pictures. If not, then maybe you could suggest a polite announcement at the beginning of the wedding to try to stay out of the way of the professional as his services are expensive and they wish to take maximum advantage of the money they spent. I wouldn't be offended if I were hiring the photographer if he said that, but then I've never been in that situation.
    On the other hand, if they could keep out of your way, having other picture takers there might provide a tiny measure of a backup in case something catastrophic happened to your pictures -- at least there would be SOME pictures around. I'm sure the professionals will have something more focused to offer.
  3. There is nothing you can do about guests posting images online. So talking to them will not bring you any satisfaction, and it will make you look defensive and picky. Unless someone is actually claiming to have been the official photographer, I'd leave it alone. The only thing I'd do about this is to make sure my images are way better than anything guests take.
    Most photographers have a contract clause about being the only 'official' photographer at the wedding. However, it does not cover guests getting in the way. There is no way that you can predict just how much of a problem this will be, so talking to the couple about this in terms of them actually doing anything about it is again--useless, and makes you look defensive and picky again.
    The best way to handle this is on a case by case basis. If someone is actually being a nuisance, request nicely that they stop doing whatever it is that is annoying or stopping you from doing your job. If they don't, then you take it to the couple or whomever they have appointed in their stead for the day. Or the couple's parents--the bride's parents are usually hosting the event.
    In situations where there are multiple people getting in the way, you just have to firmly but politely take control. A nicely worded request addressed to the crowd (say, around the cake cutting event) should work. If people persist in getting in the way, usually the bride or groom themselves will rein them in.
  4. I just let them finish and get it out of their system. Once the bride and groom see that they (guests) are wasting your time, they usually pipe up with an "ok lets keep going and let the photographer do his job". I once accidently left the optical trigger activated on my strobe--this confuses guests cameras with the preflash and the exposure is bad. They usually can't figure out what is wrong with their camera and just quit out of frustration. I can't imagine that a couple of guests not purchasing photos from you hurts your bottom line significantly. At first, I was irritated with that kind of stuff and made a big deal about it, but now I know that 75% of the people there want a few photos for their scrapbooks and they will take them no matter what. They only time I really make anything of a situation like that is if someone shows up with a rig comparable to mine and wants to direct people on poses or deliberately stands right next to me to get the same shot.

    You're working for the bride and groom - not the guests. If the guests get in the way, politely tell them to move. If they don't move, give them a line about how upset the bride and groom will be if you're not able to get the shot you need. It also helps to explain situations like this to the couple beforehand. That way, if they see things are going south with the guests, they can say something and you don't have to look like the jerky photographer.
  5. there is nothing you can do... Part of your job is also to 'herd' the wedding party and taking charge of the situation during the portrait session. You need to learn to do that to increase your work speed while at the same time not appearing to be a jackass.
    As for the images, the differentiator should be the quality of work... anyone can take snapshots..but that does not mean they are good.
    It should be fairly clear who the professional photographer is by looking at the images. If people can't tell, then maybe your problem is something else.
    If you plan to tighten your contract, be ready to loose some clients, no one likes a photographer that does not allow guests from taking pictures. I have no issues with guests taking pictures, sometimes it actually is better for me, since most of those "snapshots" are just that..snapshots.. nothing that the wedding party would hang on their wall and just go to show that no one can call themselves a professional photographer simply because they got a dslr camera.
  6. Guests and family have more right to be at the wedding than the photographer. Don't forget they're invited - the photographer is merely hired.
    I think it's important to be sensitive to the nature of the occasion and respect people's rights to enjoy the day, which will frequently mean taking pictures. And any images a guest takes are their property, so they're free to do what they want with them - including giving them away or selling them.
    To be honest, if you can't work with that then you're going to be perpetually unhappy because cameras aren't going to go away. The best thing is to adjust your business model so you're not hurting from lack of print sales, and get better at working round people so they're not in your way.
  7. I once accidently left the optical trigger activated on my strobe--this confuses guests cameras with the preflash and the exposure is bad. They usually can't figure out what is wrong with their camera and just quit out of frustration.​
    This is diabolical. "Accidentally", eh? Sure, sure. :)
    To the OP: You've gotten the answers above. This is just the way the world works these days, and it ain't just weddings. Everywhere I go, it seems that every second or third person has a camera and is taking pictures. As Nadine says, you have to make sure your photos are better. But that's after the fact. At the time, you simply have to either (a) head this problem off at the pass by taking control of the crowd or (b) live with it. I try to do (a). I think it helps that I spent almost 20 years as a teacher: I just go into teacher mode and assert myself, directing people if necessary.
    When I assert myself confidently, it always works—at least so far. I suppose it also helps that I'm big (6' 2"). And I will note one other thing. I don't actually have to try too hard to do this, but I think it helps that I generally LOOK like I'm the official photographer. I shoot with primes, so I always have at least two cameras and occasionally three hanging around my neck. I don't wear a tie (strangulation risk). I may have a battery pack. I don't use a bracket much although sometimes I wish I did. I use battery grips on my cameras because I like the handling of the camera that way, but it helps that it makes my camera look bigger than the cameras carried by all of the guests except for Uncle Larry the stock analyst who of course is carrying around his D3S with a 600mm lens on it. Fortunately Uncle Larry is usually drunk and is more interested in talking about his camera than taking pictures with it. It's the guests with compact cameras who tend to be the pains.
    I am thinking of getting one of those honking big Gary Fong thingies to underscore my status as The Pro. :-
    Wedding photography is not for the timid.
  8. As for guests posting on Facebook - not much you can do without risking seriously alienating couples and guests. And that's not something you can do without losing business.
    As for getting them out of your way - I make it a point to tell all during the formals to wait until I'm done with my shot - then I'll put the camera down and they can shoot all they want...
    During the dances, reception, etc... if someone gets in the way - they do it once. I inform them that they blocked my shot and I need them to stay behind me. If they continue to stand in my way, I tend to make myself even larger and step right in front of them when they are shooting. That usually gets the point across.
  9. Thanks for the quick responses, everyone. My second photographer actually had the worst facebook experience, in regards to guests posting images at a wedding she shot on her own. She noticed a guest with semi pro gear getting in the way of several of her shots. A few days after the wedding, my photographer noticed another studio on facebook had tagged the bride in several images. Upon further investigation, she saw that the studio had put several images on their facebook page as well as website, which basically was for the purpose of advertising themselves as the hired photographer. I guess the facebook issue is my bigger concern, as I'd like to prevent this situation from happening, if possible. I had thought about switching to selling prints at some point, but I'm thinking more and more clients are going to be expecting their files....and with the guests taking photos, this probably wouldn't be a good business move
    We've also had vendors bring in their own photographers, even though I had planned to give them images.

    Thanks for the feedback.
  10. Old problem. Construct a clause in your contract and try to convince the couple about the results if everybody is looking at different camera’s. Convince the couple for their best interest seeing their guest faces instead of faces behind camera’s to e-mail all the guest to leave their camera’s at home. Since you have no contract with the guest, there is not much you can do about it. But I’m convinced that if you can convince the couple the need for their better pictures, they will follow your suggestion.
    I once had a wedding when without my suggestion, the couple had everybody forbidden to bring a camera and/or video to the wedding because they hired a pro to take the pictures and that they don’t want it any other way; there was no uncle Bob present.
    This will prevent you to have a constant struggle with the guests. Images with some silly examples will surely help to convince your clients.
    Although you can have funny images if you timing is right.
    This bunch was covering my ass (LOL). A quick turn around gave this image. But I have better image to convince the bride.
  11. i think i have a similar shot except with 5 uncle bobs all shooting with fancy bodies.. need to find that pic somewhere
  12. it


    There is nothing anyone can do about this trend, it's only going to get worse as the years go on.
    As Nadine said, you just have to make sure your images are the best, which shouldn't be hard to do.
  13. When in doubt, take better photos and make the face bookers look like amateurs!
  14. Upon further investigation, she saw that the studio had put several images on their facebook page as well as website, which basically was for the purpose of advertising themselves as the hired photographer. I guess the facebook issue is my bigger concern, as I'd like to prevent this situation from happening, if possible. I had thought about switching to selling prints at some point, but I'm thinking more and more clients are going to be expecting their files....and with the guests taking photos, this probably wouldn't be a good business move​
    Now you're talking a whole different ball game... Uncle Bob shooting over your shoulder is one thing. Another studio coming in and laying claim to the wedding is a different matter entirely.
    The ethics or lack thereof in that situation just gets under my skin and irritates the heck out of me.
    Unfortunately - legally there isn't much to be done, since the other photographer didn't sign the contract (the bride / groom did) and you can't sign away someone else's rights. The best that she could hope for would be to have the bride contact the other photographer and tell them to stop. Of course if they are a relative of the bride's or groom's (or even a close family friend) then the situation gets messier.
    Makes me think that one of the required courses in college for all should be an Ethics course. If you don't pass it with at least a "B" you retake it.
    By the way - I don't think switching to selling prints will help with the situation that you described. The only way that I know of to prevent or minimize the situation is to be proactive with the Bride and Groom - emphasize (nicely) that you are the pro photographer. Point out that clause in the contract (nicely) and then day of - if someone else shows up and starts posing the couple / sneaking off with them or shooting your poses with a D3x - gently inform them that you are the paid pro photographer - most will stop at that point.
    If that doesn't work - then resort to either sitting one of your lights to optical trigger or find a way to get in their way on every shot that you can! I actually had to resort to that at one event (not a wedding) where I was the official photographer, but an individual insisted that he had the right to shoot photos. He was right - he did. But I had the right to get to his spot quicker than he could and block his shot.
  15. There are legal avenues if someone is using images in advertising, the "fake" has just as much requirement to have properly executed release language as does the real pro. However, that would require the individuals in the images to take the necessary actions. That's still going to depend a lot on the personalities involved and the relationship of the "advertiser" to the wedding party, etc.
  16. Now you're talking a whole different ball game... Uncle Bob shooting over your shoulder is one thing. Another studio coming in and laying claim to the wedding is a different matter entirely.​
    I think that has more to do with a guest who also just started a photography studio himself and thus decided to take images to use in his own portfolio...i know that a lot of guests from many past weddings that i've covered are "professional photographers" themselves and shot during the wedding as a guest of the couple. No one is sneaking around, they were invited to be there, just not as photographers, but nevertheless they decided to take some shots for their own studio.
  17. Guests are guests they take photos at weddings. Most people with an interest in photography will take their camera to a wedding in the hope of getting some great shots. Some keen hobbiests who are close friends of the B&G may even arrange some time to photograph the B&G alone, others will concentrate on getting good candids of other guests some may even spend decide to spend the day shooting detail shots if that is what interests them. That keen hobbiest who is setting up and photographing the bridesmaids in the corner may well be photographing their own children. Rather than worry about what these others are doing make sure that your work is better make sure that at the end of the day the B&G feel they got their money's worth.
  18. Firstly, if you are there as the hired pro, you should be able to get images that a novice will likely miss, or simply not shoot as well.
    Second, you are there to do your job and the guests are there to enjoy themselves. Let them do what they like and find alternative ways to address your bottom line. That is to say, while I do sell a fair amount of prints following a wedding, its not my main income. That is taken care of before I show up, so there is no need for additional income. That also means my print prices are lower than most by a good margin.
    I would not try to legislate this behavior, but embrace it in the best ways you can.
  19. As an older former wedding photographer, and father of three daughters, I found a way to tactfully prevent friends getting in the way of the pro for our daughters' wedding formal setups. When the formals were being set up, I would announce to the crowds with their cameras that it would be OK for them to take some snapshots. But the photographer we have hired is the pro, and we are paying him/her good money to get the pictures we want. Therefore, Please, let the pro take the first shot for each setup, after which they may fire away. That way we could avoid blinking eyes and distracted views. The situations for the formals was then friendly, and pretty much controlled. ...and we got good formals in all three weddings.
    A friendly announcement at that time by the person in control of the wedding doesn't seem out of order, and could save time.
    Perhaps some previous discussion with the B&G, or whoever is in control, regarding the formals could be productive regarding a little crowd control.
    Just my suggestion...
  20. If the guests are impairing your ability to do your job, a job the bride and groom hired you to do, then it only makes sense that you should bring it up to the bride or groom and let them handle it. After all, if you cannot do your job, ultimately it will be the bride and groom who will lose in the end, as you will not be able to get the shots that they want. It is therefore in their best interest to see you are not prevented from getting the photos they hired you to get.
  21. Let's face it, since the beginning of the digital age photography has become anyone's game. The days of the superstar photographers are numbered. I think your only weapon as a pro is to make sure that your shots are the bees knees.
  22. Jack Fisher posted a succinct and to the point solution. The reality is that digital cameras are changing the game in all aspects of photography. It's probably safe to say that wedding photographers have by and large, enjoyed the highest incomes in the field of photography. To be sure there have been superstars in other photographic categories, but overall the commercial success of wedding photographers outpaces that of fine art B&W, travel, stock or landscape photographers. It's fair to say that in the economic times it should not be unexpected that wedding photographers will start seeing some erosion of income as well as intrusions into their art. But these types of incidents are not limited to wedding photography.
    I have actually had people come into my gallery with their P&S digitals and ask (sometimes don't ask) if they could take pictures of my prints on my walls! The public at large doesn't get it when it comes to copyrights, intellectual ownership, etc. This general naivete and widespread image sharing, and stealing on social networks, is an unfortunate fact of life.
  23. Carry several cameras and lenses around your body. Guests will step out of your way. :)
  24. Any guest who is serious about taking photos at an event (not just someone with the newest camera) will probably not be in your way much at all. I am not a wedding photogropher, but I usually bring my best camera to the wedding (20d).
    If there is a hired photographer, I know that I'm not in his way for one big reason... I'm not trying to get the same picture that he is. I usually only take my 50 1.8 and look for something unusual / different than the pro is getting. What really makes me laugh is everyone who takes their PS and tries to take the pictures exacly like the pro is taking. Not to mention I just go right up and talk some photography with the hired pro when there is some down time and just try to be all-around courtious.
    If there is no hired pro, I might break out my 70-200 and 17-40 and act as if I was, and then my wedding present is taken care of.
    I guess my point is that any serious amateur "photographer" shouldnt be in your way, and even if they do get the same perspective/photo that you took... I doubt they have the same quality of gear / lighting equipment / knowledge that you have, and it won't/shouldn't look nearly as well.
  25. I have found that pre-emptive troubleshooting is best. Let the guests know they will get a chance to take that posed picture IF you have time and only once you have done what you need to do. I have never yet had guests not respect that. If they know their boundaries going in, they're not going to cross them - and when they do, you can politely remind them that your needs come first. There's always a way to handle these situations diplomatically at first.
    I guess being 6'7" helps me get shots if someone gets in front of me, but you can (and SHOULD) always get to a position first and claim your needed space.
  26. Let's face it, since the beginning of the digital age photography has become anyone's game. The days of the superstar photographers are numbered.​
    Actually you have that backwards. "Superstar" photographers who are literate in the art of photography (not just the technical) and are also brilliant businesspeople don't have, and have never had, anything to worry about. If anyone's days are numbered, it's the hacks who thought they could hide behind expensive gear and technical knowledge and call themselves "photographers." They were never the real superstars, and being superseded by amateurs with high-end dSLRs is no loss to the professional world.
  27. I'm only with the camera club and not into portraiture nor events, I'm into scapes and travel.
    I think like any other job, you just need to adjust to it. You need to get on with people that you don't get along with in an office. I'm not into events b/c it's more public and you shoot on the fly, little planning involved from the prev week or day. If the moment arise you need to take it. I've read that portraiture, you are just the photographer and let the family and guest do what they do, you are there to capture the scene naturally without being a landmark.
    At uni events, we've hired a professional photographer who does weddings and graduations and balls. He sets up his backdrop and his lights up and he does walk around etc .. taking pictures. He had no issues, even taking the person's point and shoot and behind his own backdrop and studio lights (!).
    If they are a nuisance, have a polite word to them. But serious are you gonna ban family cameras. Like grandma or nephews carrying a point and shoot. If I were the family, I rather get another photographer..... Many friends don't even bother downsizing images, they just send email with full size out. They just amateurs and if they knew how to many of them couldn't be bothered.....
  28. I am not sure what people mean by "getting in the way"? What I have seen is that people take advantage of a certain setting already in place and shoot away. The pro should set aside a room or an area for their own group shots. It will be clear to to others that this area is off limits. The pro should never have to compete for attention with other photographers, or people would be looking every which way. Very annoying.
  29. That's too bad if you don't like it. If it was my wedding I would allow anyone who at my wedding to take as many as they like and even have a face book page posted for everyone to upload to save on the cost of ordering offical prints. Wedding photography is a dying breed because of digial photography. You should look at other areas to explore besides doing weddings like proms, etc. Just to many guest walking around with pro-consumer cameras. I even brought a Canon Ellan to my brothers wedding to take photos and there was nothing the photographer can do about.
  30. Marc -
    I could not disagree with you more...In fact I would say the opposite is true - wedding photography is being taken to new heights because of digital.
    If I were your "paid" photographer for your wedding and you announced that your guests could take, post and sell all the photos they wanted to from your wedding - I'd seriously question why you even were bothering to have me around in the first place and then probably proceed to do what my contract requires and no more.
    The other point about selling prints - Many photographers - myself included - don't even count on selling a single print from most of the weddings we do. We include a DVD of images in our package and provide that along with a print release to the client. Of course there are those who do rely on print sales, but they are fewer and fewer.
  31. I was recently at a wedding where a guest essentially "photo-crashed" the wedding. He was an invited guest. He is a DJ by trade and apparently takes photos at events he DJs (don't ask me how). To self-promote, he photographs at weddings he is invited to and then quickly sends the photos to the bride and groom and offers the purchase of those photos at a very low price. He also left his business cards on a few reception tables at the wedding I believe.
    Very tacky and in my opinion and inappropriate. I knew the hired photographer at the wedding and spoke with him about it as the evening went on. He had the reaction that many have stated above: "he was using a kit lens with a kit DSLR with a pop-up flash. If his photos are better than mine, then I need to get better. Otherwise, it will just help the bride and groom to understand why they paid me $$ to shoot their wedding."
  32. I've been on both sides. As a guest, I'll bring my camera but I try to be careful & respectful of the hired photographer - not using my flash, not getting in their way & holding my camera in down while they're taking a photo to avoid anyone inadvertantly staring at my camera. Most of the pro's seem to appreciate this & even have been extra nice to make time for me to shoot. In one case, it worked out well that I took the same shots since the "pro"s photos came out terrible. It was a cousin's wedding and after the family got the photos back, they came to me and asked if I had any good shots. I didn't think mine were that great until I saw the ones they'd paid for - I gave them a CD will all my shots after that! So as a guest, I don't mind getting the same shots as the pro - I would never sell or market them as my own, but just in case of equipment failure or other problem with the pro's photos, then there are some pictures of the event. I mostly take them as personal mementos & to improve my own technique.
    I've also been on the paid side and have to agree with some of the other posters, it's not the amateur photo enthusiasts that cause problems - they're usually more aware of what the pro has to deal with. In my experience, it's the aunts/grandmom/extended family with point-and-shoots, either moving to close & blocking my shot or calling out to a member of the wedding party. I'm short (5'3") & female so even with the gear I can't get the intimidation factor. But I can be vocal & have resorted to waving with my free hand above my head, then taking the shot.
    As for print sales, I don't think you can fight Facebook & the digital age, but I also don't think it would make significant inroads on revenue. The primary revenue source is the bride/groom (and possibly their parents). A few other family members (grandparents,etc) might buy prints but in my experience, the majority of the guests never had any intention of buying pro prints - before digital, they just did without photos. I do think that Facebook puts more pressure on the pros to get their proofs uploaded to a viewing website quickly; because you'd rather have that traffic & word of mouth coming to see your photos of the wedding.
  33. Have had two of these situations happen to my wife and me at two different weddings. The first time, the b&g made a preemptive strike and announced that I was shooting the formals, please let me work, and everyone could take a shot after I worked each group pose.

    The second was not so nice. One of the guests brought a Canon 40D with a 70-300 or something and was popup-flashing lots of *ahem* "creative" shots while I was trying to work. At the getaway, the bride snapped and yelled at her - told her to let the professional photographers do their job and to get out of the way. Have to admit, it was pretty satisfying - most guests are really cool about taking pics, at least the ones with P&S cameras. They have camera awe when they see my gear, and either ask "how much did your camera cost," or "bet that camera takes some really good pictures huh" or some such.. But that kind of guest never interrupts or gets in front of me.

    Oh and Facebook - I'm in the younger generation and integrating my business with Facebook has been clean and extremely simple. My timeline looks like this: Wedding guests upload their images, B&G are tagged by guests, everyone comments, B&G receive their image files from me ready for Facebook uploading, B&G post said images, everyone comments and the previous images are forgotten (unless one is just really really good).There is a big enough distinction in the images that I have never really worried about it.
  34. I found a great way to handle the throngs of "other photographers" is to say to everyone, I'm going to set up the shot. I will take my shot first. I need everyone to NOT take a photo then because your flash can ruin my photo. Or make people look the wrong way and you don't want the bride and groom to get bad photos right? Then I will ask that everyone hold that pose so that after I have gotten my shot the rest of the photographers can get theirs. This seems to satisfy them. You have to make sure though that it doesn't become too long a time between shots with 80 people saying ok now my camera, now my camera, look this way, etc. If it is tending towards that, remind them that the Bride and Groom only have so much time for formal shots and if you will be posting the shots online for viewing, remind them that they'll be able to see them online and buy prints as well. It can be a great marketing opportunity. Good luck!
  35. Loosen up, it's a fact of life and actually part of the modern wedding celebration. Some of it actually makes for good pro photos as part of your coverage.
    People that think this is the end of wedding photography are using old think. Just think it through with a modern slant. Opportunities abound!
    Actually, I steal more group shots than guests do. If I see a group forming at the reception so a friend can shoot with their P&S, I step up and gregariously suggest they join their friends to complete the group and take the shot. It goes from a competing shot, to being a priceless one for that group of pals or family ... and a potential print sale to everyone in that group. BTW, this is an excellent hunting ground for a second shooter looking to score points with his or her boss : -)
    People taking a photo of the B&G are a similar target. If they are taking the photo they can't be IN the photo. Step -up and put them in the photo and guess who will want a print of that?
    Facebook and the like are BIG opportunities to reach a lot of people with your website that are potential future clients. Think about it, most of the client's friends are there and many are single. Pick 30 or 40 of your best shots (I use Lightroom Quick Collection to segregate them ), Quickly put them on your hosting site, or your Smug Mug site and put a link to it on the client's Facebook page. Tell them to come back in a week or so and there'll be more. Traffic, and repeat traffic.
    Most of the time formals are not taken with the entire guest list there. Guest move on to the reception and you are left with the wedding party and family ... who are in the photos so they can't be taking pictures. The few that do take photos then are important people, so I help rather than hinder them. If your lighting isn't better than some P&S then it's your problem, not theirs.
    Point is ... think WITH the trends, not against them.
  36. This is relevant, although the uncle (literally) had a Panasonic of some sort and shot video the whole night. the groom is a jazz musician, and hand picked his wedding band out of all his friends, and the bride's brother is an opera singer. When i pitched video at my client meeting (which i do not do myself, but of course have a preferred vendor) they said that they weren't interested, which seemed sad knowing they were going to have awesome music. In walks the uncle, asks if i was going to shoot video, to which i replied sadly "no", and before i knew it he had much of the evening preserved on video (It was an LX 3 or 4, so i'm sure the video will look nice). I was glad he was there, because he captured the motion and music of the evening that i knew still pics would not.

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