Interesting "Dilema"

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by justine_k, Sep 3, 2010.

  1. Last night I read and posted in this thread:
    http://www.photo.net/wedding-photography-forum/00XCNM
    Which got me thinking about one of the few weddings I'm going to this fall. One of them is an out of town wedding of one of my closest friends who lives far, far away from me so I don't get to see her often these days. So I don't personally know the "players" involved in her wedding where they live. They are having a very small wedding--I think about 30 people.
    I know having a good photographer was fairly important to her both before and after her engagement, as we talked about it numerous times. Her fiance, however, is extremely frugal....probably bordering on someone you would just label as "cheap" (this is said in jest, as it's always a joke about their funny compromises when she wants to buy something that he sees as pointless). I was a little surprised when my friend mentioned that they were now using the wife of her fiance's best friend, who is quote a "professional photographer." And she seemed a little hesitant about the whole thing. But I didn't think too much of it because she said the woman was doing it as a wedding present or sorts, so I figured she just didn't want to ask her previously to do it so she could enjoy the wedding with her husband...or didin't want to mix too much "business with pleasure."
    My friend also said to me to bring my camera along to get some pictures. Last night when I saw the above thread and kind of thought "hmm, I wonder if X will be miffed if I'm taking pictures along with her for fun...maybe I should forget the whole thing since it's such a small wedding." Our of morbid curiosity, I decide to internet "stalk" this woman. To my horror she has to be, hands down, one of the WORST photographers I've ever seen. And this is coming from me--a non pro who is NOT good at capturing the spirit of people. But I'm quite confident that my completely photo ignorant friends with their iphones could capture better quality photos than what she had. I mean...not even subjective things. Completely blurry. Practical up the nose shots. Heads cut off. On and on. I seriously do not even fathom how this woman is a "professional" or gets any business.
    So, do I take the approach that my wonderful girlfriend got herself into this situation...likely appeasing both her fiance's frugality and the awkwardness of her declining? Or do I become even a little bit more pushy and do what I can? Again, I'm not a pro. Not a great phtographer by any means and I'm not going to pretend I am. But I'm quite confident that I have the ability to get photos leaps and bounds better than what she displays (man, maybe it's a sick joke and she only puts her worst photos online???). I know my girlfriend is way too nice sometimes and would never be able to just say "no."
    I'm asking this here and I know I'll get brutaly honest answers about your opinions on the subject. It doesn't quite fall into any of the categories, but I figured here is the most applicable.
     
  2. A wedding is a one-time photographic *deal* and you don't often have a second chance to correct the images. If you feel you must be a guest and a photographer, that is up to you. If you are invited to be a guest, go and enjoy the wedding. Your friend and her soon-to-be husband are the ones who will have the good, the bad, and the ugly wedding photographs to enjoy over the course of their wedding. [History has a way to going on, no matter who takes the photographs...]
    One vote - go as a guest, and if you must, take a few shots.
     
  3. Her fiance, however, is... ..."cheap"... ...my friend mentioned that they were now using the wife of her fiance's best friend... ...she seemed a little hesitant... ...she said the woman was doing it as a wedding present or sorts​
    Not much analysis is needed. The groom's desire for cheap overcame your friend's desire for "good photographer" and convinced his buddy and the buddy's wife to fulfill his desire. Your friend wants to ensure something is salvaged out of this. Don't get involved. Bring your camera set if you desire, stay out of the way and take pictures as would a respectful guest and get a few gems or so for your friend to hang on to in case Groom's 'free' friend royally screws it up.
     
  4. I wonder, if she does a good job for your friend, will you come back and tell us with the same gusto you have publicly condemned her?
     
  5. Stay out of it and keep quiet with your opinion of the other photographer. Go as a guest and support the couple as a guest (and close friend) at their wedding the way you would want them to do the same for you. Take your camera and take pictures from the perspective of a guest. Don't worry about photographing the wedding, you're not obligated to. If you get some good shots, give them to your friends. If not, hopefully you still had fun at the wedding.
     
  6. John and Jerry--that's what I was thinking...just do what I normally do. If I get good pictures, great. If not, no sweat. In hindsight it is what it is and my friend and her fiance made the choice together and I need not worry about it!
    Marc--yes, I absolutely would :). I'm more than happy to admit when my first impressions are not correct. Although I would probably also add after the fact that if she is capable of getting nice shots, why not display those as a representation of her work? And I provided no information about my friend, the location, or any of the photographer's info. I hardly call it "public" blasting.
    Perhaps I was a little harsh reflecting on it since I don't know the woman at all and am purely judging off the small body of work I've seen. I'm sure she's a nice person and has good intentions. And perhaps she comes to this website and will figure out what I'm talking about and the whole weekend will be an awkward mess. But I am also just a bit like that in general and I am who I am.
     
  7. Yup, I'm with Josh
     
  8. Justine -
    It is a pretty public blasting - although I doubt that the woman would just happen upon this post unless pointed here.
    Since I started that last thread (the one you linked to) there is one major difference that I can see it doesn't sound like you're being presented as a pro to the other photographer.
    People with DSLR's show up at weddings I do all of the time and I don't have issues.
    That being said - I'm with Josh and Marten - bring your camera, enjoy the wedding as a guest, take some photos without the pressure and hopefully get some good shots.
    Dave
    2)
     
  9. Perhaps drop an email to your friend saying you'd found some samples of the photographer's work online and thought she might be interested. Perhaps build it into another question eg. 'you'd asked me to take some pictures too, is there any particular picture you'd like me to take other than the one the official photographer seems to take'. Don't make any commentary about whether you think it's good or bad, let her make her own mind up. If she looks through it and is happy then you've done your responsibility, pointing out what you've found.
     
  10. Setting aside all the advice about staying out of the "pros" way, I'm simply going to tell you what my husband would do in the past.
    There were often weddings of family friends or church members he would attend as a guest, and while watching the photographer, he would realize they were doing things that would be practically guaranteeing their shots would be awful.
    So, as a guest, he would sit in his seat and take photos, or stand at the very back and take some (this being in the film days when not everybody and their uncle bob ;-) had a camera there). IF the photographer was agreeable, he MIGHT shoot some group formals under their shoulder. As a wedding gift, then, he would get 4x6's printed of everything and give them to the couple. I can't tell you the number of times he heard that his pics were the only ones that actually turned out.
     
  11. I think Simon's idea is good in principle but, it could lead to requests for further activity which leads to further involvement or a potential awkward discussion about why there would only be one photo or so. This is so even without discussing the merits of the chosen photographer. The bride may want extra coverage for that reason or any other and make suggestions or hints accordingly. I just wouldn't get in to it at all.
     
  12. There were often weddings of family friends or church members he would attend as a guest, and while watching the photographer, he would realize they were doing things that would be practically guaranteeing their shots would be awful. (Maria)​
    The problem is if you take this approach you can also guess wrong.
    By way of example, at a wedding I shot a couple of months ago there was well-meaning but unnecessary interference from a guest who also thought he was doing someone a favour. I overheard him pointing out that I had a noddy camera, a kit lens and no flash gun .. and didn't know I needed to use fill flash against the light.
    His observations were true in part, although misconstrued.
    The 'noddy camera' was a leica rangefinder and the kit lens was an f2 prime which offers extreme sharpness and contrast when used against the light. It's a specialist tool almost ideally suited for that scenario. One of the images from that day is posted in the available light thread, if you're interested - I believe it's very far from 'guaranteed to be awful'.
    The well meaning friend shot everything with a speedlite on his 50D and a fong diffuser. Not sure what he got but I do know it would have looked very different from mine, if only by virtue of his equipment and approach.
    My philosophy on weddings where I'm a guest is to take a camera and one lens. Nothing else. I find my shots quietly and don't interfere with anyone, pro or guest. No one notices, no one minds. I'm just a guest with a camera, one amongst many.
     
  13. David--I didn't mean to imply that your post and my post were similar other than the fact it would be someone other than the "hired" person taking the photos. It was just what got me thinking about her wedding and the photography situation. And I suppose it is a public bashing, although no more or less than your thread :)
    Simon--I agree with John that it's a good idea in principle...but I don't think I could really end up bringing up the subject to my friend. She knows I'm a saucy little thing and I KNOW that if I brought up seeing the other photographer's work that it would end up in her asking me about it...I fully own that I have a snarky mouth and I don't think that the conversation would end well. It would probably go something like the first post did and at this point I don't think there is anything to be gained from being my typical self.
    Her and I have discussed wedding photography at length (as far as style and examples she loved) since she just went through the wedding planning with me a year and a half ago and she's going through it now. So at least if I decide to sit back and click away I've got a fairly clear image of the type of photos she wants. Which works out nicely as she doesn't like formals and prefers the more candid approach.
    I was also toying around with the idea of sending the photographer a message and just saying something like "I love photography and would love to take pictures of Z and Y's wedding...would you mind if I tagged along and snapped some pictures?" But then I worry that might be another can of worms that could get opened. Probably better to take the approach that it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission and then blend into taking pictures with the other guests?
     
  14. Another vote for not saying anything. If I brought any camera at all, it would be one camera, and one lens. No flash, like Neil. I wouldn't attempt to photograph any of the images the hired photographer normally shoots.
    But that's me. Only you can know whether you can gracefully navigate the social aspect of the dilemma, and whether you are accurately judging the photographer's abilities. Also whether you can do better. If so inclined, the best outcome would be, if and when you contact the photographer, she is open to using you as a second shooter. If she isn't, I'd do as I said above.
     
  15. I was typing when you posted your last. I disagree that it is better to ask forgiveness later.
     
  16. I'm simply going to tell you what my husband would do in the past. There were often weddings of family friends or church members he would attend as a guest, and while watching the photographer, he would realize they were doing things that would be practically guaranteeing their shots would be awful​
    We've probably got a slightly eccentric approach to taking photos, and we quite often have guests who think that we're taking photos in the wrong way. Often the wives of wedding photographers, who tend to have strong opinions on how pictures ought to be taken. At one recent wedding, there was one lady who kept following us saying 'that's not the way pictures are normally taken', or 'my husband always does it differently from that'. The fact is her husband had not been asked to photograph the wedding and we had. I can honestly say our photos turned out really, really well despite not following her advice.
    I don't think that you can really actually tell from looking at someone at work how their photos are going to turn out.
    It reminds me of when I was taking a photo once on the street in Russia (not a wedding), a slightly drunk local camera buff came up to me and said 'oh what a wonderful photo oportunity is being wasted!' Again, my photo turned out just fine and managed to win the odd competition, despite not taking this guy's advice. If he had been as good as he said he was, he'd have been taking his 'better' picture himself.
    I sometimes see my wife taking a picture and think 'it'd be better if she did it in another way'. I learned to shut up and not express my opinion, and of course her picture is usually something totally different and much much better from what I imagined that it would be.
    So, everyone has strong opinions about how pictures ought to be taken, there are always a few guests who have their own opinions, but there's no point trying to project them on to the pro at the wedding. He/she's either a good photographer, or not, and accordingly the results will either be good, or not. And it's very hard to tell by looking at them at work.
     
  17. So first you publicly berate your friend's hired photographer in a forum post that now lives in Google, and now you think it's a good idea to contact this photographer and push yourself on her as a second shooter?
    The selection of vendors for your friends wedding is none of your business unless you were asked to contribute an opinion. The photographer has been apparently hired, and you would be wise to heed the advice already given to you here and keep your opinions to yourself. Would you criticize the DJ because of their taste in music and show up to the wedding with your iPod and speakers.
    Go to the wedding as a happy guest, leave any camera at home (because the temptation to take over will be far too great I sense), and support your friend's new marriage by enjoying the party.
     
  18. I have to say I'm shocked that people actually go up to photographers at weddings and comment on their equipment and style. I thought my big mouth was bad enough, but that does take quite the set of balls.
    Anyhow Keith, if you would have read my OP you would see that I'm more or less in this situation because my friend has also asked me to bring along my camera to get some shots. (what her motivation is for also specifiying I bring along my camera--that I do not know)...but at this point I'm asking to the EXTENT to do so.
    So to answer your question: Yes, I would absolutely criticize my friend's DJ and bring along my own ipod and speakers if she asked me to do so. No, I would not do so if she never mentioned her DJ and never asked me to bring anything along. I also was fairly specific that contributing my opinion to her was not something I'm going to do.
    I can also assure you that there is no desire to "take over." I wouldn't even know where to begin with directing people for posing and formal shots. The only reason I even threw out contacting her her is to avoid an awkward day before declaration by my friend "oh, Justine's going to be taking pictures too!" In a way I see contacting her as a bit of my way out...if she says NO I can say "sorry" to my friend and be done with it. If she says YES then i don't feel nearly as weird about the whole thing.
    Nadine, you don't think this is the best thing? <<Probably better to take the approach that it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission and then blend into taking pictures with the other guests?>> I was kind of leaning towards the "blending into" idea....
     
  19. No, I don't think blending into and asking forgiveness later is the best thing. First of all, asking forgiveness implies that one will commit transgressions. If you intend to blend in and not transgress, this is different.
    The benefit of talking to the photographer before the wedding is that if she agrees to your being second photographer, you will have 'official' capacity, and therefore have more permitted opportunities to photograph. You will not have to blend into the crowd of other guest photographers.
    Personally, if someone in your situation called me before I was to shoot a wedding, I would seriously consider using you as a second. Benefits to me would be that I can ensure you really aren't in the way, particularly during the ceremony, and of course, while I don't really need a back up photographer or a lot of different angles of the same activity (because I cover it myself), it can't hurt, particularly if you are good. Assuming you aren't going to claim this was 'your wedding' and immediately launch a wedding photography business.
     
  20. You were invited to the wedding. You were asked to bring a camera. You weren't asked your opinion about the couple's choice of a pro. So go to the wedding, take your camera, don't offer your opinion about the couple's choice of a pro. Its a small wedding. Get at least one shot of everyone there. Small wedding, a family event with a few friends, rather informal and my guess is most guests will also take pictures as kith and kin do. I had a small wedding like that. The only professional photos were at a studio. I was happy with all the instamatic and polaroid pictures of the people I loved. The wedding was for the people I loved, I already felt 'married', and the ceremony a ritual for others, a chance to get everybody together in happy circumstances. It wasn't spun into an uber moment to be documented with hyper photos. My favorite photograph was of my long-haired best man with my ex-marine older cousin who hit it off, despite that the photo was a bit off kilter, film not matched to the inside lighting. 35 years later most of the people at the wedding are now dead. Family wedding: get grounded and be sure you have at least one picture of everyone that was there.
     
  21. "I'm more or less in this situation because my friend has also asked me to bring along my camera to get some shots. (what her motivation is for also specifying I bring along my camera--that I do not know)"
    This is crux of the problem then. If the bride asked you to bring a camera because she's now concerned about the hired pro for whatever reason, and she wants you as picture insurance, then you definitely need to contact the pro to get permission as Nadine suggests. But, I also agree that the "try to blend" method should be avoided.
    I think my best recommendation now would be to talk to the bride before you do anything else and get some very specific clarity on what she expects from you picture-wise. Then, you'll be in a better position to know whether you need to contact the hired pro and advise her who you are, and what you've been asked to do. (that's assuming the bride and groom won't be making that call to explain why they've asked you to shoot also).
     
  22. Look. I believe in talking with good friends about your concerns and asking the bride what she expects from you. If she is really a close friend you can probably easily work it out. I would not belittle the other photographer. I would specifically tell her that you will take a few pictures but remain in the background and ask her if that is OK. I feel free to get issues out with people who are really my fiends and get them out well in advance so there is no confusion. As Nadine says propose to her that you stay in the background and test her feelings about that. If she is really your friend she won't hate you for it. After all what is friendship for? A little conversation in advance can eliminate a big misunderstanding. If she were my friend I would call her and say I am a little uncomfortable about what you expect from me in the way of photography because I certainly don't want to get in the way but would love to help. These things tend to blow out of proportion unless there is an early meeting of the minds.
     
  23. OK! I think I have made a decision. It all has been incredibly helpful (even if some of you think I'm a horrible biatch for starting this thread--it wasn't just to be mean!!).
    I think what I'll do is wait until I get out there to casually bring it up. I'll be flying out a couple days before my husband to spend some QT with my friend and help her out with last minute stuff, so it will be a good opportunity to feel her out a little more. I will also be spending a fair amount of time at some pre-wedding "events" with the photographer, so I can find a kind of casual way to broach the subject with her as well. I'll just plan to bring a camera and a couple lenses and see where it goes from there.
    Keith and Dick, I certainly agree that friends should always be able to sort through things! But I also think she likely is being vague about the whole thing because it's also an awkward situation for her. A. I don't think she wants me to feel any real pressure (but does probably want a "backup") and B. Obviously the closeness of the other photographer to her and her fiance adds extra feelings in the mix. I'll say that me being worked up over this has nothing to do with how I think my friend will react or that she'll have any hard feelings no matter how few or many pictures that I take, or if they all stink. It's pressure I'm putting on myself wanting to help my friend out (not that I'm entirely convinced I'll be able to). I've known her for long enough and we're definitely close enough that I'm quite certain she's not directly wanting to lay things out entirely for a good reason (likely my A and B formerly).
    I'll just let things fall into place from there. I'm definitely comfortable enough in the friendship that at the end of the day her and I will be completely fine...she won't be upset with me...and I'll be unwound enough by then to let the punches roll. It was more of a "ooooh carp!/aahaaa" moment for me. And hey, you all are right. Maybe it isn't what it seems like it is and I'm not seeing the full talent of this woman..........why she would put that quality of work out for people to see, I have no idea.....but I really shouldn't completely discount her because I don't KNOW.
    Oh, and Nadine: No, I won't be claiming the wedding and starting a photo business tomorrow :) I don't have the nerve to have that kind of photographic responsibility, and I respect you people that do it! I'll stick to inanimate objects on my travel adventures and my dog. She doesn't care if I catch her at an odd moment! As far as if I'm good? Probably not by you pros' standards (I keep meaning to upgrade my membership so I upload an actual portfolio), but decent enough that friends and family like them. I have put some pictures in various "no words" threads if you'd like to give your overall opinion if I'm going to completely let my friend down.
     
  24. OK! I think I have made a decision. It all has been incredibly helpful (even if some of you think I'm a horrible biatch for starting this thread--it wasn't just to be mean!!).
    I think what I'll do is wait until I get out there to casually bring it up.
    Might I suggest not doing that, there is a good possibility your friend has already found the same information you did and understands the position she is in hence her request for you to toss her a life preserver and by bringing up the quality of the so called professionals work you will have jumped from the frying pan into the fire and by proxy will become the “volunteer backup” photographer along with all of the pressure that comes with that job and in the end you will have gained no ground by pointing out the failures of the so called “free” professional.
    I will also be spending a fair amount of time at some pre-wedding "events" with the photographer, so I can find a kind of casual way to broach the subject with her as well.
    Don’t broach the subject let her handle it remember she asked you to bring a camera and that means something again it is a good possibility she understands the mess she is in photographically and needs your help but doesn’t want to scare you off with the responsibility. Follow her lead if she needs your help you will find about it soon enough if not just do the best you can but say nothing.
    In my opinion take your gear and do the very best you can while staying a good distance from the pro (you will probably get better shots that way anyhow) and in the end you may very well be a hero for producing the only “good” shots of what should be the most important social event of your friends life.
    If it works out and my guess based on the description of the pros work it will, your friend will never forget what you did for her and her husband and his buddy will never hear the end of it.
    Wayne
     

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