How do you deal with annoying people at weddings?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by hectorroldan, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. First please let me explain. I live in Guatemala, Central América (just below México and next to Belize). Wedding photography is a hot business here, yet I don't participate for personal reasons, it is annoying, people here are often (mot of the times actually) annoying. I wonder how do you deal with this if you ever face such situations.

    The usual thing around here is you get hired and when you show up you discover there are about other 3 photographers hired by other members of the family, and around 3-5 freelance photographers that are permanently present at the churches/temples looking for work. Yes, it is common to end up dealing with about 8 photographers at the same time, not to mention the guests with their tablets. If you think this sounds like some poor town wedding: yes, it's kinda like that, at times it's like diplomatic events where people fight over a picture and in the process will ruin other people photographs.

    Well, that's the easy part of the problem o_O.

    The worst part is the family and guests. It doesn't matter who hires you, and it doesn't matter what part of the wedding is taking place, you will surely have to face random people telling you at any moment "hey you, hey... you, picture me, picture her, now a group photo". They believe the photographer has been paid by the family to serve anyone and everyone for free, and they will be rude. If you are thinking this only happens on poor weddings you are wrong, sadly this is very common and often caused by far related family, not even direct family of the people getting married.

    I have seen photographers kindly explaining "sorry I was hired to... " [interrupted, then told something rude]. People will actually get up, walk to you and grab you by the arm or touch you in the shoulders to interrupt you (no matter what you are doing) to take pictures of a random kid in cheap ugly looking tuxedo or a lady in a dress, things can be that annoying. If you try to explain or just turn around you are likely to engage in more interruptions where people explain/demand why you should do what they are asking you, and how rude and pretentious you are by refusing. Things turn into a long uncomfortable interruption, often with complains to the family.

    I don't do wedding photography because of this. I find the money being paid ends up being too low or too dirty/complicated/nasty. Talking and explaining when hired that you won't do that but only focus on the husband and wife means nothing, things will happen anyway. Here... it is very rare that weddings take place in really private ways with access control (no strangers). As explained many temples have permanent freelance photographers that have caused a big part of this issue because they try to serve anyone and everyone to get paid. It was easier in the past because FILM and instant pictures were expensive. Today they take pictures of anyone because digital is free and they can later try to sell it.

    Well... that was a long detailed explanation. I have talked about this with fellow local photographers and asked the what they do, the answers vary but everyone shows how irritating this is, how they also hate such situations (hate is a strong word I'm not using lightly here), and often brings all sort of short stories of irritating events taking place at weddings. One guy method is telling people "sure sure, I'll be back right away" and moves away, if asked again he repeats, he basically plays the fool. I don't think such attitude is pretty but he faced less annoying situations than other people trying to explain why they can't interrupt their work to picture silly things. BTW photographers refusing to talk and just carrying on get it worse. I don't pretend or expect exclusivity but such things around "the job" make it cheap and easy to end up hating it.
    mikemorrell and eb_kidd like this.
  2. LOL - agreed. :D I dread the whole environment of weddings, and of having to deal with people as subjects in general. That's probably why 99.5% of my images have nobody in them. The only time I ever dealt with "people pics" as part of a compensated gig was as a photojournalist/stringer for a local metropolitan paper in Southern California during my community college days, and covering the weekend police beat. In that case, I really didn't care if my subjects liked my pics or not, as in some cases they were either under arrest or deceased.
    hectorroldan likes this.
  3. If I had a choice of photographing a wedding, or having a giant earwig crawl into one ear, eat its way through my brain and come out the other side, I would have to think about it.
  4. I think you need the personality and presence to deal with that.
    And I don't have the personality to deal with that kind of situation.
    robert_bowring and eb_kidd like this.
  5. I agree with @Gary Naka above.
    But I can't understand "the problem".
    Fine by me! I'm inexperienced, underequipped (only one dual card slots body) happy to work for quite cheap. If the clans hire / shanghai 3 other guys of my kind, I'd hope we'll manage to cover the entire wedding as a team.
    Aren't they wonderful? - I mean if they were "faces of family" there could be complaints about shallow DOF in the dark church just covering bride or couple. But "snapping tablets", who needs those in focus?
    I can (& do sometimes) bring an old K10(0)D with flash along, to hand it to those people who believe whatever needs to be shot while I am trying to shoot something else. I'm one single guy and can't be in multiple places at once.
    When ruining each other's shots starts, its important to have the widest lens, to stand or crouch inside the others' images...
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Clearly your narrative describes situations which are a common, repetitive and seemingly a local situation.

    I have just over 1500 Weddings under my belt and I am now working part time as the Second Photographer, for a long time colleague. I've had similar situations, (with guests) and those have been dealt with polite people skills explaining that the Clients are the Bride and Groom, and if the Guests' requests can't be attended to immediately, with the Guests’ patience, it will be done shortly - and we follow through on that promise.

    IME there have been two or three guests, all way too fuelled with alcohol, who have been belligerent and rude. On (only) one occasion a calm approach and the spoken words and body language which usually quickly de-escalates conflict situations - did not work.

    Simply put, this fellow was spoiling for a fight. That's not my job. The problem was solved by referring the matter to the Manager of the Venue, explaining the background and the situation and then formally requesting that the person be removed from the premises and barred re-entry.

    The alternative, (i.e. my “Plan B”), which was also told to the Venue Manager, would have been to refer the matter to the Client, advising them that the Venue took no action upon a formal request and that I was withdrawing my services, forthwith.

    Fortunately the manager of the venue knew at least as much about the law pertaining to his responsibilities, (perhaps more) as I. And he acted immediately.

    Apropos dealing with - "there are about other 3 photographers hired by other members of the family, and around 3-5 freelance photographers that are permanently present at the churches/temples looking for work." - that simply has never happened to me, not ever in >30 years shooting Weddings and Social Functions: exclusivity is, and always has been, stipulated in our contracts.

    In regard to "the guests with their tablets", We just work around that. There are a few techniques, one of which is asking them to step back a bit whilst I set up the shot for them, making sure that they are behind and at the side of me - that works for any semi-formal group shots that the Bride/Groom may want - obviously it only works if there is a modicum of decorum within the cohort of Guests and also the Photographer is polite yet uses a dictative method: this transactional style, obviously, will not work in all cultures, nor in all situations.

    That's answering your question "How do you deal with annoying people at weddings?" . . . I suspect how I do it, won't help you, working in your locale, very much at all.

    On the face of what you've written, I think that your choice NOT to shoot Weddings is the best choice that you can make.

    timberwulf likes this.
  7. Watch the Godfather parts and you will see how the Corleone family and their chums deal with photographers. Even there, they don't seem altogether successful.
  8. I'm surprised anybody would agree to do a wedding under those conditions.

    John, remember, it was a female.
  9. I'm with you on that one. :p
  10. Sounds like you’ve found a good solution.
    Sounds about right. It makes sense that people would deal with this in different ways.

    Many jobs come with the potential of having to deal with annoying people. I think some business schools are including ANNOYANCE 101 in their curricula. :)

    Just keep in mind that for everyone you find annoying there may be someone out there thinking the same of you. The best thing to do when encountering annoying people, at work or anywhere else, is to go out of your way to be nice to them. It may not stop them from being annoying but at least you won’t be annoyed with yourself for letting them get to you. The last person you want to be annoyed by is you.
    William Michael likes this.
  11. I'm on the same page as @eb_kidd and @John Seaman. @Gary Naka hits the nail. I don't believe to have the personality or interest to deal with those situations, yet I'm very curious about it and IF there was a way to deal with this. When I started didn't want to do wedding photos mostly because I felt insecure (I was too young and inexperienced), people I know would want me to do the job because they felt my pictures were good, anyway I didn't do it. @jochen: great, but based on what I have seen in my region I seriously doubt any kind of collaboration (direct or indirect) could take place, there is no team and people often get in the way ruining the chances of doing a great job, more details below. (And I've been mostly convinced it's a local situation, in my region related to culture).

    @William Michael yes I'm afraid it's a common local situation. Guatemala is known by lack of formality, example: it is very common that any event (including weddings) can be set to 10:00am but begins at 10:30 or 11:00am, same happens with most agreements you make "ok the deal is exclusive photographer - OH YES SURE!!!" and then you find only half of the discussed arrangements were taken care of. Exclusivity... contracts... that can happen but here it's mostly "just paper". Most of the places where weddings take place are open spaces with no access control. The administration or priests can tell you "yes, only you" but anyway there will be people walking around trying to make a buck or two, in fact there are permanent freelance photographers trying to get a piece of the job anyway they can (and they will be as polite as annoying salesmen, kind but really annoying).

    I'm exactly on the spot you describe, I'm happy not to do weddings. I've been curious because I never discussed this with photographers from other parts of the world, yet I had the feeling things are like this here where I live, being a common situation.

    @conrad_hoffman I used to think the same. Worked on a place along with other photographers (media company) and tried to discuss this matter a few years ago. They were annoyed by what I describe because they experienced it too, but 9 out of 10 offered wedding photography. Why? they wouldn't tell you "because I love it" but also the same 9 out of 10 were in huge debt, it's the kind of thing that comes out over years of working together.

    @samstevens yes, I think that's the best conclusion. I used to consider another option that you didn't include: those people asking for pictures can be potential clients. Oh boy I was wrong, they assume every photo taken during the wedding is already paid and free for them to abuse the photographer. Perhaps having an assistant every interruption could be forwarded to the assistant telling them the price and deal.

    So it seems I will stay away from weddings :)
    eb_kidd likes this.
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    It is good to discuss common topics with people from different parts of the world. Thanks for giving us your local perspective.
  13. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    I would explain, politely but firmly, that i was contracted by the family to take the shots which they wanted, then hand the interlopers a copy of my (highly inflated) charges for fulfilling their demands, and ask them, if they were still interested, to form a queue and I would be happy to arrange a photo shoot at their convenience, explaining I required a 30% deposit as an earnest of their good faith...
  14. Whenever I’m at a family or close friend wedding I put on my I-know-what-I’m-doing face and walk up the aisle before the ceremony, informing the first two people in each row that the family has asked that they do not take pictures or use devices during the ceremony, and if they want to they’ll have to please shift further in. Most of the time it actually works.
    robert_bowring and Tony Parsons like this.
  15. I don’t usually get annoyed with the people who are not paying, nor do I explain why their concerns are not mine. My contracts stipulate that the bride/groom must set the protocols for their guests and that I’m not liable for work I can’t complete because of guest interferences. Just saying... 5F174F85-B8A6-4F5D-8495-6894E392822F.jpeg
  16. One wedding I was a guest for had a disposable camera on each table
    (at the reception). That could be used by guests to take those shots that they
    thought were needed without asking a photographer. I believe that
    was in the digital years, but still some time ago.

    After a while, I went around to make sure that all got used up,
    so that the bride and groom would have plenty of pictures.

    Of course other guests will bring cameras and expect to use them.
    (Even if it distracts from the official photographer.)
  17. Taser. You could probably make one from your table top disposable cameras.
    Tony Parsons likes this.
  18. Actually the same things you mentioned happens here in the USA. This is not very unusual ! There is sometimes going to be Freelancers, or "Uncle Bob's" at a wedding no doubt about it ! "Uncle Bob" is a family member with a fancy camera that implies that he can do a better job than you can for free. I was once invited to shoot a wedding and all the guest were given point-and-shoot cameras by the Host. The reason for this is because the Host felt that as single photographer, I could not capture everything angle that there was to capture at that wedding.

    Another reason is the Second, or Third shooter. Sometimes the main photographer hires a second or third shooter especially if its a big wedding. Then there are the Trainees. The people you think are Freelancers are actually Trainees who need the experience to build a portfolio. As the main photographer, meaning the one who signed a contract to be paid by the Host, I would not worry about these trainees too much, unless they get in the way of your work-flow. If that was to happen then you can complain to the Host. Sometimes the Host allows freelancers for the same reason the Main photographer hires a second or third shooter. Often though these freelancers are not under contract and make their income on Sales of some of their pictures.

    Actually being a good wedding photographer is learning how to keep your cool in various situations and learning how to control groups of people without getting all shook up. Rude people is something a wedding photographer just has to deal with without being rude themselves. You got to figure that at weddings some people had a little bit too much "Champagne" to drink so they are not exactly going to be the same person that goes to church on Sundays. Secondly, weddings are very stressful event in a person, or families life, so things can and usually are pretty hectic. As a wedding photographer you are NOT the show, just a small part of the show. Your job is to remain as cool and unobtrusive as possible and not get involved in the running of the wedding, because they have people hired to do this. Some are professional and are called Planners.

    Almost every wedding I shoot, there are people grabbing me by the arm asking me to take their pictures. This does not bother me because I keep a check-list of Must-Have pictures that are considered the minimal that I will hand over to the Host for payment. The rest I call Candid photos. It is not too good to have too many Candid photos, but its also not too good to have too little. Some of these pictures can translate to Sales or referrals, so its good to have a few of them in every album. I usually hand a business card to people who 'grab me by the arm' and if I'm too busy, I tell them I will get to them later.

    As far as money is concerned, make sure you get a deposit or a percentage of the total cost for your work before you start shooting. Some photographers charge up to 75% of the total cost. Some charge 100%, but most charge about 50% or less. If you really want to recover all your costs, I would not post any pictures of the wedding to an online website until the full amount is paid. I also would not handout any lo-res disk with your album photos on them to the client as some people do, only to get burned later on. It often happens that a couple will hire a photographer then after a few weeks begins having buyers-remorse. Unfortunately, if`they signed a contract then legally they will have to pay, but without that contract the motivation for them paying you quickly fades as time goes on, believe me...
    Last edited: May 8, 2020
    Jochen likes this.
  19. "Actually being a good wedding photographer is learning how to keep your cool in various situations and learning how to control groups of people without getting all shook up."

    I've always said that if the couple is still talking to me by the end of the night, I have 90% of the job in the bag. Very little bothers me when I shoot a wedding. Late brides, pushy parents, uncooperative kids, other photographers . . . It all just rolls off my back.

    If it didn't, I wouldn't have made it through the 6-700 weddings I've covered.
  20. I suspect that many of us, especially who are not professional photographers, bring
    cameras to a wedding, even if we are not an uncle.

    I have for a few weddings brought a camera with black and white film, so (most likely)
    different from the official photographer. Maybe a few interesting shots.

    I do try not to get in the way, at least during the wedding. I might have some
    conversations at the reception. I do remember the first time I saw a D700 was
    at a reception, where there were a few photographers (that is, first, second,
    and third shooter) with them. It wasn't until the price came down on used
    D700 that I got one for myself.

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