Ok...I did this to myself....

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by daverhaas, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. A bride who's wedding I was booked to shoot sent me an e-mail a few weeks before the event and asked if it was okay for "a friend" who was just getting started in the business to take a few photos for her portfolio.
    Now - I'm like most of you - I have an exclusivity clause in my contract - which I pointed out to the bride, but I said "sure - as long as she stays out of the way and doesn't grab people and pull them aside" - I'd be okay - even asked if the friend would 2nd shoot for me. Didn't get a response from the bride - but did get the balance due on the wedding.
    The wedding was last weekend and it was perfect. The friend came up to me and introduced herself - she then proceeded to start to fire off a bunch of candid shots of bride, groom, etc... before the ceremony. (Bride and Groom did not want to see each other - so most formals were later.) She (Friend) then makes a remark that the location that the actual ceremony will be in is kind of shady / dark - I respond - well - that is one reason that I have my SB-800 on. (among others) - She responds - well would have been nice if you (me) had set up an umbrella - (umm... okay but it's a small gazebo and there's already 15 people in it (6 bm's 6 gm, bride groom and minister) so - not a lot of room, plus even if I had set up a flash in there - I would have triggered it with pocket wizards and not visually.
    So during ceremony she is moving around and I'm moving around - both trying to stay out of each other's way... would have been great if she had just sat - again my fault for not telling her that up front.
    After ceremony - I wait until most, if not all have greeting the B/G and offered their congratulations. I grab wedding party and head over to spot where bride wants formals - other photographer asks Bride - is it okay if I tag along ? Bride says of course. (at least my 5th mistake of the day.)
    We do the formals - I do the posing - and wrangling - take my shots - then she shoots. We get done - it's hot and the wedding party wants to start the party - she (other photographer) then suggests a few of the "cute" poses for the group. Group obliges her and then she dismisses them... keeping bride and groom. We do about 20 minutes of the bride / groom by themselves then finally call it.
    Reception - she shoots a few candids and the cake / dances. After she sits and eats and has a beer or two. Me? No food - bride offered, but I'm shooting kisses, family and toasts. And definitely no drinks.
    Next day - edited photos from her start showing up on Facebook. Bride / friends etc all are commenting how creative she is and how good she is... um... HELLO?? No mention of me or my being the primary photographer.
    So - what did I learn?
    1) next time I get asked the question or a similar one - the answer will be No. or if it's a yes - here's an agreement that the photographer will have to sign - No claiming the wedding, No facebooking the images etc.... If it means I keep the retainer but lose the balance - so be it.
    2) Make sure that everyone is on the same page. I feel that even though I'm the official photographer - the plan is to not buy any images from me much less use any of them.
    3) Next time - I will ask the bride to provide me with contact information in advance so I can talk to them in advance and ask the right questions.
    Suggestions? Comments?
  2. Sounds like the most important thing, here, is that the amateur beat you to releasing a couple of social-media-friendly proofs to amuse the bride and her family/friends. That has to be a new priority for pros working an event: at least an immediate sign of life for that all-important new communication channel.
  3. Dave - could you or someone elaborate on what you mean by "...ask the right questions" (number 3 on your list). What would those questions be?
  4. Dave,
    Pretty much the same thing happened to me a couple years ago, at one of the first weddings I shot. Same story—avid amateur photographer friend of bride has asked bride if he could come and take photos. I did talk to him beforehand and tried, very nicely—I'm a nice guy and not pushy—to explain my "rules" (basically, stay out of my shots and don't get in my way). He agreed. I also asked him to come to the rehearsal so we could talk a bit more and perhaps do some coordination in advance.
    He didn't come to the rehearsal. That should have told me something.
    At the wedding, I did ask him to shoot from the other side of the church, and that worked okay.
    But after the wedding, while I was trying to shoot formals and deal with moving people on and off, the bride disappears and then I see he's pulled her aside to do a portrait of her. That's when I really should have pulled HIM aside and had a brief chat.
    At the reception it got worse. He's in quite a few of my photos, including some that would have been much nicer without him.
    I understand that these days, 2 out of 3 guests have SOME kind of camera with them at the wedding, if it's only a cell phone. 1 out of 5 seems to bring something better than a cell phone. Some of these photos DO show up online very quickly, because the takers go home, and I think some of them just upload the files straight from their camera. Somebody here posted very recently about somebody else (may have been the videographer) who was either selling prints or showing a slideshow of photos taken minutes ago, while the reception was still in progress!
    I also understand that it's my job to make sure that MY photos are much better than those taken by the amateurs.
    Still, I found that experience very frustrating and I work now to avoid a repeat. It's not the real amateurs that bother me. It's the enthusiast friend. It's much easier to take one or two good photos when you are attending the wedding without any real responsibilities. If you miss the kiss, or the vows or the bouquet toss, or whatever, it doesn't matter, because you weren't being paid to shoot them and in fact you had no obligation to shoot anything. So you can stroll around and just take the photos you feel like taking.
    That would be fine except when the enthusiast starts to compete with the pro. That one time a couple years ago, I found it rather distracting.
    In the end, this may be a problem that has no simple solution. So many people have cameras you simply can't control who is doing what. You and I were both asked in advance. But now I find that there are folks at weddings with DSLRs who are simply going around and taking their own photos and don't think to ask me or the bride. There's nothing you can do about that.
    Bottom line: You have to be better than the amateurs and the enthusiasts. If the bride has to wait for your photos, you have to make the photos worth the wait. In my case, I've started hedging my bets by (a) continuing of course to try always to make my photos better than any amateur's but (b) by getting "proofs" online very quickly, within days of the wedding. I think this is critically important now. Clients have no patience, a limited attention span, and if I can't deliver photos for weeks, well, by that time the wedding is old news, at least for some of my younger clients.
  5. Regarding FB, you sound a little jealous that she is getting praises and none are given to you. You gotta expect that from people, they like getting all the credit, and people will always praise someone they know. From your story it sounds like she lost her respect for you as a professional and started seeing you as just a person with a camera " I grab wedding party and head over to spot where bride wants formals - other photographer asks Bride - is it okay if I tag along ? Bride says of course.". All I gotta say is that sucks, but it wouldnt be a fun career without competition.
  6. If you aren't selling by the image/print, what does it matter if other guests, including wanna be wedding photographers, put images up on social networking sites, or anywhere online, actually? Any one of them can claim they were the primary photographer at the wedding. Sure, their images can dilute the couple's reception of you wedding images, but the fact that they hired you instead of letting their wanna be friend shoot the wedding should at least give you some confidence. If you are worried, process 3-5 images from the wedding overnight and put them up on your blog or e-mail them to the couple. Then take your time with the rest of the images.
    I would be and am, more concerned about the actual wedding day behavior. The last 5 weddings I've shot, there has been someone with a serious kit shooting 'with deliberation', at 3 of them. They all had varying degrees of interference with what I was doing, none of them serious enough for me to take aside to have a 'chat'.
    However, I do not invite them to join me in sessions, and if asked will decline their tagging along. If forced to deal with them because the bride gave them permission to tag along, over my wishes, I tolerate them, but will speak up if they start shooting over my shoulder or start directing the couple--particularly the latter, because time is always in short supply.
    As for the rest of the day, I will speak up if they are running around during the ceremony, particularly if there are strict rules, and if they are running around during the reception. The last one was dancing into the crowd on the dance floor and whirling around with the camera over her head, firing her flash direct. I used to help people like this, and give them chances to shoot. No more.
  7. Matt - Yes - exactly what I did - got some up on FB right away.
    Chris - Questions would be: How many weddings? What are you going to do with the photos? Are they for Portfolio use only?
    Will - Spot on. I have a person who even though is a friend is my toughest critic. She will pick on the slightest imperfection in any photo she reviews of mine. Then she makes me fix it and promise to not do it again - This has made me a much better photographer.
    Alex - I don't think she lost respect - You have to have it in the first place to lose it. Yes - there probably is a touch of the green eyed monster there, but my FB friends are very complementary too... There's competition and then there's ethics...IMHO. She did make a comment on her fb page that she wishes she could have "stole" the b/g away for a few more shots (assuming without me around).
    Nadine - I don't count on print sales - so I price my work accordingly - print sales are almost like a tip to me. The annoyance factor comes in that if someone happens to stumble across her photos and mine - they would be wondering just who shot these? The bride did preface her asking me if it was okay with "Are you still planning to shoot our wedding?" my guess is that if I had hesitated or paused she may have said - Okay fine. But since I said Yes and had a signed contract this may have been the easy path for the bride.
  8. Dave, I'm one of those amateur-enthusiasts so my thoughts might shed some light on the situation, albeit not necessarily representative of all those like myself.
    I would definitely be respectful of a pro's responsibilities to get the shots and make judgements about what's appropriate conduct if not explicitely explained. Being a series amateur and acquiring somewhat of a reputation among friends, my objective as a casual guest shooter would be the same as yours - to get as many good shots as I possibly can without getting in the way, and here's the rub: while I'm not competing against the pro-shooter, I'll also be unaware of what might be perceived as resentful conduct.
    I concur with Will's remark about the common use of cameras at such events; it's an unavoidable sign of the times so people like me will only be even more common. For the most part, I also think wedding couples have the desire to compile as many photos as they can in addition to those from their hired pro, and will often see no conflict.
    This might also touch on an unrelated topic - shooting style - which from (at least some) enthusiasts' perspective might expect a pro to have the versatility to make artistic photos of a potentially chaotic situation.
    I also concur with Will's bottom line. The very definition of competition has perhaps changed and is no longer limited to other pros. Amateurs like myself will continue to do our best as friends and family of the couple, for free, with accomplishment and a what little gratitute received as our reward.
  9. Thanks Michael -
    I agree that the horse has left the barn so to speak - it's completely unrealistic to think that there isn't going to be a herd of folks at a wedding with DSLR's and yes - they can probably get them on FB much quicker than a pro will.
    To me - differences between a pro and amateur are becoming increasing meaningless in terms of equipment. (she was shooting with an EOS 7d and nice lenses, Me with a D700 and D300 and equally nice lenses) And for the record no one represented her as an amateur.
    Competition is going to continue - I get that... and friends with camera's add an additional level to it.
    I forgot to add - I do agree with Nadine - I too used to offer to help people with settings and questions at weddings and stop them when they were about to do a no-no... No more from me either.
  10. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    It is a complex and multifaceted issue. It will get more commonplace.
    One facet is the Friend had different rapport with the Bride than did the Photographer.
    Another facet is the Friend was playing the game by different rules to the Professional Photographer
    In regard to “assisting” - I note that the critiques and responses we place here, in this forum, are indeed vital assistance to those wanting to Shoot and then Facebook a Wedding, before the pro even begins their PP.
  11. Michael--I don't resent people like you. What I am concerned about is how your behavior impacts me doing my job. There are only so many 'best spots and angles'. There is only so much time. Many times, enthusiasts are unaware that they are interfering, causing time loss and distraction. For example, an enthusiast might think that the best place for him or her would be behind me, or off to the side, when I am photographing. What they don't realize is that I might want to drop back suddenly or move off to the side quickly--right where they are standing, as part of my game plan to get the action--sometimes action that can't be repeated. Or I am anticipating some action, and waiting for the peak moment to shoot, when an enthusiast suddenly blasts into the space and starts directing. Multiply this scenario by however many enthusiasts are at the wedding, and there are many these days.
    Yes, most couples think 'more is more', and need to be educated about quality vs. quantity, and the possible detrimental effects of having too many shooters. And while one of the characteristics of a pro wedding photographer is the ability to make artistic images even in chaotic situations, ask yourself how much better the images can be if the photographer didn't have the distractions of yet another shooter to worry about. Or it could get to the point that the photographer actually begins to miss shots or have shots ruined because of the enthusiast(s).
    I surely don't think enthusiasts should disappear off the face of the earth. I understand the desire to use one's camera for fun (pros were enthusiasts at one point too) and to give one's friends a gift. I just question the real motivation of some of the enthusiasts I have been seeing lately. At least David's shooter identified herself as a would be wedding photographer. Just ask yourself if you are shooting for the sake of your friends or for your own ego. I'm not criticizing you because I don't know you--just saying that I suspect for some enthusiasts, the ego is more important.
  12. What a pro brings to the wedding isn't primarily—how do I put this? It's not primarily talent. The pro doesn't have a monopoly on talent or even the ability to hit a home run. I blogged a bit about this last year some time, noting that in baseball, if you fail to get a hit 7 of every 10 times you're at bat, that's a .300 average and means YOU ARE REALLY GOOD. And even a rookie just up from the minors can hit a home run now and again. I'd say that my batting average as a photographer is way better than .500, that is, more often than not, my photos are at least base hits: they meet basic standards of correct exposure, composition, etc. But just as in baseball, the guys with the great averages are often NOT the ones who hit the most home runs. I'd prefer to have a lousier average if I hit more home runs. In the long run, it's the home runs people remember—not the singles.
    What the pro brings is consistency, reliability. You hire me (or any of the consistent, reliable pros here in this forum) you can be pretty sure that I'm going to give you a large number of good to very good photos. If my camera breaks, I'm prepared. If my lens or flash units don't work, I'm prepared. If the light sucks, I know how to handle that. I have actually shot group photos before and have some idea what I'm doing. I know how to act in church and I'm not going to embarrass myself or you or get you in trouble with your pastor or wedding coordinator. I'm probably NOT going to post a photo of you in which you look drunk. With any luck, I will also come up with at least a couple really nice, memorable shots of your day. But even the shots that aren't in my BEST OF gallery, are going to be technically competent. And there will be plenty of them. And I will do it all without much food, without much of a break, and while working under a fair amount of pressure.
    The enthusiast, on the other hand, doesn't HAVE to be consistent. Doesn't have to worry about his batting average. He doesn't work under pressure. He doesn't even have to show up. If his (inevitably) one camera breaks, no big deal, he is now free to party. He isn't responsible for anything at all.
    What makes the enthusiast so annoying (to me) is that, if he has SOME talent, and if he takes enough photos, there's an increasing chance that he WILL hit a home run. I don't see anything that can be done about that, either. Worse, it's hard to begrudge the bride one nice photo that she would not have gotten if I'd been a little pushier.
    My response (which is evolving) currently has two dimensions.
    First, I increasingly think of myself as a vendor. I am there to do a job like the caterer and the disk jockey. I come, I do the job asked of me, I get paid. Disk jockeys in their forums probably kvetch about Uncle Bob who brings his guitar and sings "The Way You Look Tonight," bringing everybody to tears. After that, who remembers the DJ? In short, the wedding isn't about ME or my "art". (I never really thought otherwise, but I've become more conscious of the fact.)
    But second—and kind of on the other hand—I've personally have started to push prints or at least books. I don't give high-res files away any more. I make it increasingly necessary to buy the prints through me. This is clear to my clients up front. I explain that high-quality prints are treasures. Low-quality web images look like cr*p on half of monitors on which they'll be viewed, and they disappear from your Facebook "wall" in a few days. And if you are shooting for quick display on Facebook, well, it's hard to compete with the amateurs in that game, not just on price, but on quality, too.
  13. Michael made some good points, please allow me to make a few more. Weddings are serious but they should also be fun, right? Being 'respectful of a pro's responsibilities' and 'making judgements about appropriate conduct', not quite sure what that all means but it doesn't sound like too much fun to me. As a family photographer, I have taken thousands of pictures at more than a few family weddings, sometimes as the main photographer and sometimes not, but always for fun and for free. Luckily, that allows me to eat and drink as much as I want and miss 'important' photos every now and then. So far I have been having a ball and don't think I've gotten in the way yet. I'll continue taking family wedding photos whenever asked, and recently I've been asked a lot, since the proof is in the pudding, as they say. And these nice modern digital cameras make it easy and fun. Cheers!
  14. It seems the biggest concern is impact on sales, if that applies, and what Nadine discusses boiled down to interference with your ability to do the job. I come down on the side of not bringing people in even with agreements and understandings as they may still get out of hand. One excpetion I see is if Uncle Bob or Ms. Pro freind of Bride shows up and interferes anyway. Giving them tasks may work out better than all or nothing confrontations.
    Lots of photographers have exclusivity clauses and/or anti-interference clauses but don't spell out the remedy or consequences of breaching. Getting the ability to walk away seems to be overkill unless its needed to deter sales loss situations. It seems very fair to disclaim responsibility for the bad effects of any interference if its not a sales loss issue. Dealing with other photographers is a fact of life and there are ways to incorporate them in to what you are doing but the more friendly control that can be exercised, the less likely things will get out of control.
  15. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Michael Chang and Greg C make valid and worthwhile points - all of which personally I absorbed and with most of which I agree.
    BUT, the scenarios they both outline are NEITHER within the discipline nor the framework of the situation or actions, described in the OP.
    Clearly David's position was that he was accommodating and assisting a person "who was just getting started in the business to take a few photos for her portfolio."
    This is entirely a different kettle of kippers to being "one of those amateur-enthusiasts" or "a family photographer . . . [having] taken thousands of pictures at more than a few family weddings"
    Reverse the situation: I teach; I hold workshops; I have an exclusivity clause (apropos other professionals on site) - how would the Bride react if I answered - "yeah NO PROBS that will be 500 extra for the on-site live workshop and OK for her to shoot professionally on my assignment."
    Likely the Bride would assume I was an arrogant self opinionated pig (well I am prone to hyperbole) – but seriously where is the line of arrogance begin and end?
    Pima facie - the "friend” had chutzpah . . . and plenty of it. (And I like Juxtaposed Metaphors - too) . . .
    If it spirals badly the Bottom Line ends up being: "Sorry honey, you're interfering - please rack off!"
    That is of cause unless one is a Photojournalist – then just take pictures of her taking the pictures – complete documentary.
  16. John H writes:
    It seems the biggest concern is impact on sales, if that applies, and what Nadine discusses boiled down to interference with your ability to do the job. ...
    Lots of photographers have exclusivity clauses and/or anti-interference clauses but don't spell out the remedy or consequences of breaching.​
    For me, it's not the loss of sales. In the digital market, sales are a problem no matter what you do. I push prints not because amateurs are hurting my sales but because I think my photos look their best in print, and because prints are good way to distinguish my work from that of the Facebook shooters.
    As for remedies: My contact states that the reason for the exclusivity clause is precisely to minimize interference with my ability to do the best job possible for the clients. There is no remedy. Failure to comply with this condition has, rather, a result: potentially less excellent photos. (One wants to put this carefully....)
    In this sense, the exclusivity clause is just another version of my cooperation clause (which says that if the groom doesn't smile all day long, don't gripe later that there are few photos of the groom smiling).
    I've done news photography on and off throughout my life, and that's how I learned photography as a student eons ago. It's funny but I find it easier to shoot alongside another PRO—even competitively—than with what I've been calling an enthusiast. For one thing, another pro doesn't want ME in HIS shots any more than I want him in mine.
  17. I really like William Porter's 2nd and 3rd post....lots of good info there.
    I've said it plenty of times before, shooting weddings is about 50% photography and 50% people skills which includes handling intrusive newbies (with opinions) and getting the job done on a cheerful, fun note without the later resentments. David has learned a valuable lesson here. Comments about exclusivity clauses and how people "should" behave won't change this situation or how it can be handled in the future. Sophomoric comments suggesting that David was wrong for being bothered by the behavior largely betrays a lack of pro-oriented perception of the issues. People keep under-estimating the true skill and craftsmanship required to shoot weddings around here. It's not art, it's not a hobby, it's a wedding. No second chances and no excuses.
  18. I agree that friendly accommodations are the best in every case. I would never walk off a job because other shooters were present, even if they were interfering. In the past, I've tried to make enthusiasts my impromptu assistants/second shooters, but you can't do that when there are five of them present at the same time.
  19. “other photographer asks Bride - is it okay if I tag along ? Bride says of course.”

    At this point I would have said to the couple “we have x minutes to get all the formal photographs for your wedding album it’s going to be very tight and I want to do the best job possible, I’ll start once Amateur Friend has got her pictures”.

    Bride can then be the one to decide if she is happy having their photo time consumed with her amateur friend’s pics or not and if there is no time left it was her decision and you still get paid.
  20. "Clearly David's position was that he was accommodating and assisting a person "who was just getting started in the business to take a few photos for her portfolio."
    That's a good point, William. Perhaps what we've really observed is the subject photographer's inability to differentiate which hat to wear - be a guest, enjoy its privileges and take no responsibility, or be a starting pro and behave accordingly.
    Clearly there can't be a legal clause to cover every possible scenario and this example may indeed be more of an exception, but I would see nothing wrong with something like a 30 second announcement:
    "On this very special day, it's my job to document this beautiful event to the best of my ability, and part of that will require my exclusive access to the bride/groom and their family as I'm sure you'll all understand, and your cooperation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you."
    It'd be no different from asking guests to turn off their cellphone ringer.
    "I suspect for some enthusiasts, the ego is more important."
    Nadine, about ego, I can't speak for others, but my motivation would be just as yours - to make beautiful pictures - not because I'm paid but rather because I'm a friend/family of the B/G and I want this additional gift to them to please them. I would also impose the same pressure on myself as a working pro to deliver after the event.
    My most recent experience was a friend's 20th anniversary, no hired photographer, nothing was expected of me, but I brought my still camera and 2 video cameras; one around my neck and the other on a tripod. Shot about 100 stills and 2 (total) hours of video. Tweaked the stills and edited the videos, all for the love for my friend, and it was a ton of work. Ego? Not an ounce, and I suspect most enthusiasts shoot for the same reasons.
  21. As I said, Michael--I don't know you so I wasn't criticizing you. However, I would say that in your example, bringing all that gear and shooting all you did was fine, since there was no hired photographer. If you had done what you did at a wedding where there was a hired photographer--if I was that photographer--I would suspect ego. Maybe not with the video, if there wasn't a professional videographer, but certainly with the stills.
    I can tell almost instantly if an enthusiast is there for 'pure' reasons or not. If you are there purely to provide some gift photos, you do not need to be mobile during the ceremony, you don't need to be photographing the bride getting ready, you don't need to be photographing the cake cutting and you certainly don't need to be photographing any part of the formals or romantics session with the couple. What you can provide that would really be valuable to the couple are images that take advantage of the fact that you are related or a close friend, since you know the couple and know who are important to the couple. While the hired photographer is taking group pictures or romantics of the couple, for instance, photograph the bride's niece doing something cute. Photograph the bride's face as she reacts to you and your camera. Those are the kinds of images that the hired photographer may not take (in the case of the latter, can't take), and that would mean something to the bride and/or groom.
    So a better gift would be not contributing to the media frenzy that almost always forms at weddings these days, so no, I don't agree that most enthusiasts shoot without an ounce of ego.
  22. I have a perfect solution: Get booked by less wealthy couples who have less wealthy family members and friends who can't afford such nice, expensive equipment and are therefore not as likely to interfere as much.
    There has never been a particularly interfering or troublesome photographer in any of my weddings. A few slightly annoying on rare occasion...but I have had much more difficulty with videographers as a general rule.
    Who knows, if the photographer has some good ideas, I am open to listening and learning.
  23. >>but it wouldnt be a fun career without competition.<<
    Do you really think that's what makes it fun? Never thought of it that way, especially when trying to work a wedding.
  24. Hi,
    I havent read the whole thing. The only comment that I could add is that we have to Start working out of Prints. Technology is involving us every day more and more. What I do is give them a Package that Includes some Images printed at my prices, and y also give them a DVD with all the Images. Of course, I sell them the DVD, and there are 2 DVD's, one with watermarts on the images, and one without them, of course, the last one is more expensive.
    I bet, in the next 5 years, people will stp printing, and they will start showing albumes on their iphones, ipads, or those Digital Portraits, etc, etc, etc. so we need to adapt the business to the Future.
  25. I think all the comments are on point. I think we will see an increase of these types of incidents as dslr's get cheaper and easier to operate. Two weeks ago I attended 3 weddings in one weekend. I was a guest at the Friday and Sunday weddings and carried my G11 because my wife wanted to capture some candids of the dancing (not the couples first dance) and the cake (by itself). She made sure to stay out of the hired professional's shots. Other people just walked right into his shot at the ceremony (crappy PS) and some woman with a Fong diffuser and a Sony dslr tried to move him to the side.
    At the wedding I shot (Saturday) I had to contend with cellphones and stuff, but the main thing the mother of the bride and some of the quests were concerned about was when they could see the photos. I am still finishing up some of the shots as we speak, but I quickly edited a few of the fun shots and posted them to my website and facebook page.
    Who knows what is next but it will put pressure on a lot of wedding photographers if they expect something in less than a week.
  26. David, please forgive me, but while I understand some of the issues you raised, I think you're exaggerating a bit. Amateurs with superb equipment will increase 10-fold over the next few years. Cameras which take amazing pictures at ISO 2,500,000 will come out at lower and lower price levels - until they cost less than an SB600 does today. More and more cameras will include WiFi uploading immediately onto Facebook or whatever and, sooner or later, image processing software within the camera will rival the basic develop settings within LR.
    Your average uncle Bob (or friend who shoots because s/he asked the bride) will not only increase but also become more and more of a "competitor" to the casual couple who not only do NOT understand the difference between the perfectly exposed and framed shot you will shoot and that aunt Mary will shoot which MAY be from the classic standing-up position, MAY be a bit on the dark side, MAY have a bit of a lens flare BUT catches the mother of the bride in THAT classic pose the bride loves! And that has nothing to do with the home-runs mentioned earlier. People are becoming so inundated with fast, casually produced images these days that their very aesthetics are being shaped by them MORE than they are shaped by professional shots. They are becoming, if you want, more and more likely to accept a casually iPhone-shot image than they would be a few years back.
    Don't get me wrong, I fully understand where you're coming from, but from what I read, the amateur did not interfere with your shooting and basically simply beat you to the images. That should ring a warning bell and NOT an annoyance one - at least in my book. I've personally "stolen" jobs from other photographers by being able to provide the couple with fully edited and processed images within a week or two at the most of the wedding when most other photographers usually take a month or even more. I put up a short collection of the best images on my site 3 days after the event for all to see. Overall, I let the couple KNOW things went fine, that their treasured moments ARE safe and more wonderful images are to come. AND I provide just cause for them to recommend me to friends.
    Facebook-uploaded images will become more and more frequent - whether from a "serious amateur" friend or simply from a guest who had a 18-200 VRII lens-clad D5000 and who, being the obsessive person that s/he is will return home at 2am and sit and download the images, make iPhoto basic adjustments and then upload them, at 5am, on Facebook AND tag them with the names of ALL the people in them. During the same time you will probably still be packing up your gear and downloading your 2,000+ RAW files on three different locations (for security) and loading them into LR for proper processing.
    This is NOT a race either of us can win. What we CAN do however is (apart form everything else already mentioned here to make sure all those amateurs or casual shooters do not interfere with our work) offer an overall service which CLEARLY differentiates us from the rest. That, fortunately or unfortunately, includes being faster AND making sure the client is aware, being BETTER with people AND making sure the client sees it, offering more for less AND making sure EVERYONE knows it and by being one step AHEAD of the Joneses.
    I was the FIRST in my market to deploy remote Speedlights for location shoots (thereby allowing my customers to shoot at truly extreme locations) when ALL other photographers required power extensions, battery packs, handlers, porters - the works! I was the first to use a ring-light adapter for my SB800 for a wedding (and mind you, I don't do weddings as a rule!) and once the results circulated people started asking just "how was it possible to shoot a wedding WITHOUT making the faces look like death masks?" (which was the prevalent result then).
    Who knows? Maybe to stay ahead of the competition (formal and informal) these days we need to set up a WiFi enabled card, upload the images AS we shoot them and have an assistant waiting back at the studio to perform some basic retouching and then re-uploading them to a secure site which will be displayed on a projector DURING the ceremony for everyone to see! Personally, I'm dying to give this a go - unfortunately in this backwater country that I live, internet is still a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG way away from making this a real possibility...
  27. Premise: I'm not a wedding/event photographer and I do not intend to become one.
    But I have one question. The wedding professionals here seem to consider the wedding entirely as their own "turf". It sounds as if wedding professional photographers want to be "the director" of the visual development of the event.
    Nobody in the way, no interference, because time is short, photos need to be good.
    You want to enjoy complete freedom of movement. Stepping back and at a side. No interference.
    But weddings [I recall mine, :)] are usually very crammed and dynamic situations. And with lots of people taking photographs. With a P&S or with more or less professional kits.
    All these statements are reasonable from the professional's point of view, but we should not forget that they are usually crowded events and that the photographer - even if important to record the event - is not the main player in it.
    Aren't these expectations a bit unrealistic?
    Almost all other photographers - maybe except those photographing the Great Plains or the Namibian deserts - have to cope with interference and disturbance when working.
  28. Luca, I sort of wondered about that myself.
    There is no doubt that stress levels and pressures are extremely high for wedding shooters; any screw-up and you're pretty much done along with your reputation, not to mention the often unrealistic expectations from clients.
    Then there are forums such as this where consistently high quality work is showcased which might make some pros feel even more under the gun (in order to compete, perhaps with themselves), so no, I don't blame them for wanting at least some control over important moments because they only have one chance to get it right.
    Marios also brought up important points about keeping up with technology which certainly won't hurt either.
    The objective, finally, is to make some money and have a happy customer, and viewing this from the outside without prejudice, I can see so many ways other than following tradition to accomplish these goals with little additional effort, so maybe the real answer lies with creative solutions such as the photo booth in a recent post which by design excludes every other photographer.
    - [Link]
  29. Thanks everyone for this topic, I'm glad I stumbled upon this now, as I'm about to enter my very close friends' wedding event this weekend with my FF camera and a few primes... as an enthusiast without any obligations. This topic surely gave me some food for thought as how to behave, and what to shoot.

    A hired professional will be present (big budget wedding!), as well as father of the groom, another enthusiast with "serious kit". We two shot the bachelor party, and those photos will be shown on a screen during the party, along with a slideshow of my older photos featuring the couple and friends. If I wouldn't bring my camera with me, people would ask me what's wrong :D - just to describe my informal position as the "official photographer" of this group of friends. I always shoot these people, wherever we are, people expect it and like it, and I love sharing the shots with them... these people are beautiful and totally themselves in my presence, which sometimes results in beautiful photographs.

    I believe this kind of relationship exists between many of these "Amateur Friends" and wedding guests, and true - it is an advantage that the enthusiast has over a pro... unless the pro is good. I think a real Pro can create this trust and gain access to the intimate zone of the B&G during the wedding. And guess what - I also think the years of exposure to "serious kit" (the presence of big, black DSLR and constant clatter of the shutter) the guests have had surely makes it easier for the wedding pro to get the couple & guests to relax.

    I guess what I will do is to present myself to the hired pro, tell him/her about my intentions (to take photos for myself) and just generally stay out of the way. I don't want the same shots, anyway, I'm not there to cover the event... I'm not there to get some "gift photos" either, I never post photos on Facebook, so why I do I take the camera with me? Because it's a photographic opportunity I don't want to miss. They've actually rented a castle (!!), people are dressed up and smiling (or crying or dancing), so there are countless amazing opportunities waiting. Capturing beautiful light that creates wonderful colours, achieving harmonic composition and freezing the right moment- photographing for the sake of photography, that is my goal. If I publish the results and they please other people, that's cool, but I'm striving very hard to achieve results that please _me_.

    I don't think this is ego... or is it?

    Very long post, but hey, it's my first one, so better make it big :D I'm very impressed by the insight of some of you professionals - I would hire William just on the basis of the attitude shown by your posts. I feel that I'm going to learn a lot from this site!

    P.S. I got married just two months ago, and there were no photographers present to cover the event, besides the wedding photo (Luckily, a very close friend and a professional photojournalist took the wedding photo, as his personal present to us. It's a huge, gorgeous print and one of the most beautiful photos I've ever seen.) We didn't want any outsiders there, and wanted our enthusiast friends to wholly enjoy the evening as guests. I also prefer to save the best moments in life inside my heart... controversial, perhaps, to think like this, but some things just won't fit inside a photograph.
  30. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “But I have one question. The wedding professionals here seem to consider the wedding entirely as their own "turf". It sounds as if wedding professional photographers want to be "the director" of the visual development of the event.”
    and etc.​
    Then Luca, either you did not read the words I wrote or I did not explain myself succinctly enough . . .
    I am employed to do a job: and that involves (as you mention) using my skill and experience to manoeuvre around the congregation all excited and all passionate about getting their images I have no problem with that at all.
    But let’s be clear - the scenario outlined in the OP is NOT that.
    The scenario outlined in the OP is another person getting in, messing about, interfering: with the intent and purpose to create work to sell or to promote the sale of their own work the future – on the pros “turf” as you put it. . . that’s just not on where I work – it is arrogant, impolite and in some senses stealing intellectual knowledge.
  31. William W,
    apologies, I did not read your post.
    What I understood from the original post is that
    • "Didn't get a response from the bride - but did get the balance due on the wedding." The assignment was paid and settled.
    • "but I said "sure - as long as she stays out of the way and doesn't grab people and pull them aside" - I'd be okay". The "photographing friend" was accepted.
    • There has been no direct damage to the OP. and Nadine seems to agree:
    If you aren't selling by the image/print, what does it matter if other guests, including wanna be wedding photographers, put images up on social networking sites, or anywhere online, actually?​
    • The OP did not complain about any obtrusion during his work, but just that there was a lack of recognition of his work on a social network.
    So, honestly, I don't see the direct damage. Work has been agreed, paid and delivered, and that's it.

    The potential indirect damage could be related to the publicity on the social network, but I would rather say that in a marketplace with free competition - and since the OP has accepted the "photographing friend" - this is really no issue in this case.

    My post was more about Nadine's response, and about some posts I read here, complaining about "intruding photographer's friends" during weddings.

  32. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Luca - no apology is necessary.
    I interpret Para 5 & 6 of the OP as the woman was in interfering.
    And also I extrapolate that her "portfolio” shots she took were poses (and lighting?) set by the OP.
    IMO – (and the premise of my position) is that there is way too much focussing on the images she posted on line quickly and not what the real issue is.
    IMO the real issue is she was calling the tune to build her portfolio to the determent apropos time and inconvenience of a guy who was being paid to perform and certainly would be expected so to do . . . she has no such caveat AND the portfolio pieces she shot most likely will claim that these Formals are from a: “Wedding I shot”.
    So therefore it is not a matter of being precious about “turf” at all . . .
    Not the same but similar - - - I am getting my house painted – the interior designer is co-ordinating it – the painters and the wallpaper hangers and the carpenter too. My nephew is artistic – he can come along and throw a few splashes on the wall . . . I am sure the others won’t mind - afterwards he can take a few pictures of my new living area and put those in his portfolio and claim them as his fine work . . .
    Maybe Dave can clarify IF my interpretation is on the money –or not.
    PS –
    "My post was more about Nadine's response and about some posts I read here, complaining about "intruding photographer's friends" during weddings."
    Yes I thought that. I quoted your text to illustrate my point of view and highlight my interpretation of the key issue as I see it: not to be directly adversarial toward you.
    There are far too many “apprentices” not wanting to pay their apprenticeship by money, courtesy, manners and decorum, but rather to infiltrate through the back door . . . that’s my spin on what was happening unless the OP says otherwise.
  33. I did a wedding on Friday and FB images were posted by guests before I got home that night=)
    I showed the B/G their proof album, last night, they were thrilled and said my images were better than the rest they had seen, so I felt like I did my job. I pointed out to them the effectiveness of fill-flash and posing skills and how proper use of light made my photos look better. It was a positive experience, no other shooters in my way, no videographer to obstruct my path
    I think a lot of this is about educating the client into realizing what YOU can do and none of the guest snapshot PS crowd is doing anything like it, but you have to be able to deliver the goods.
    The photos that others took were actually decent, the newlyweds got a lot out of this event. Everyone is happy, that is what counts.
  34. For me:
    I like photography, and I appreciate when guests are keen on photography, and happy when they take their own pictures. I don't feel threatened by it, as I'm sure that I'll be taking pictures in my own style that the B&G will love, and that these guests' photos won't compete with. Not that none of the guests will take any good photos, but they will be different, and I very much doubt that they will be as consistently good (unless perhaps one of my idol photographers is a guest at the wedding!).
    BUT, and this is a big but, when there are a number of guests doing this, or when they are being too proactive in moving around, it definitely makes it harder for me to get the photos I want. Sometimes it makes it much harder. During the ceremony for example if a guest is leaping around taking photos it can turn the whole ceremony into the atmosphere of a turkey shoot. I feel obliged not to be part of the problem, so I probably end up taking less pictures and not moving around so much - it restricts me even if they're not directly in the way. At other times, it may mean that the people you are photographing go totally stiff and are looking in all sorts of directions waiting for the next barrage of flashes, rather than doing something that I might be interested in photographing. It means that there are all sorts of directions that I can't point my camera in without some ugly baldy with a big flash appearing in the photo.
    As the hired professional photographer, I feel an obligation to get the best photos that I possibly can. I know it's not my fault if someone else has decided to turn the day into a camera club outing, but I still feel obliged to get the B&G fantastic photos at the end of the day, and I really have to work hard to do that if there are too many others crowded around with big cameras trying to get a 'shot'.
    The buzz of everyone around taking their own pictures can make good pictures itself and is part of the wedding - so that's fine for particular points during the wedding, and I'll record it and include maybe a few pictures of it in the selection. But if wherever you go there are guests hunting for pictures, standing over your shoulder, getting in your way wherever you step, and trying to appear in all your pictures, it starts to get in the way and make life a lot more difficult - and effect the kind of photos the B&G will get. That's not because I want to have some kind of exclusivity over the event, but because I was to be able to get on with my job and do it to the very best of my ability.
    Very often, these people may not realising at all that they are getting in the way - as Nadine says, I may want to change my position, then realise that there is someone occupying the space I want to step in or that they will appear too prominently in the frame, and I have to abandon my plan or settle for second best.
    The same applies to official videographers - no matter how much you try to coordinate and keep out of each other's way and be polite, it does impose a significant limitation on the photography and your freedom to move around. Part of the professional's job is to work around the limitations of the situation and produce results anyway - but it is much better to have less limitations and less obstacles in the first place.
  35. To put it another way - when I do the wedding I know that I will get paid (already have been) and that the B&G will want an album or DVD. I don't feel economically threatened by lots of other people with SLR's and flashes crowding around, so when they become a problem, it's not because I'm worried about my income stream.
    But I do feel under an enormous pressure to get the very best photos that I can. And I know the B&G desperately want me to as well. So anything that gets in the way of it and makes the job even harder and more stressful, is not a good thing. On the other hand I want guests and B&G to have a good time - and that will show in the photos too, so I don't want to be a Little Hitler about it. My motivation in worrying about guests being too proactive and getting in the way is not driven by feeling threatened by it, it's driven by trying to do an excellent job.
  36. It's because weddings are busy, hectic, dynamic, crowded events that professional photographers need as little additional interference as reasonably possible from those who are skilled/knowledgeable enough to know better, in order to maximize the quality and variety of the photos they can provide to their paying clients.
  37. I went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago. Good example of the differences in photographers at weddings:
    * Pros - Two shooters. Fast, polite, unobtrusive, seemed to be everywhere and nowhere (using 5D mk I and a 20D, one had 70-200L and one had 24-70L I think). They had a bunch of photos ready the next morning - there was a slideshow at the morning after breakfast. They also delivered these preliminary photos via email that morning to the bride and groom. Pretty much guaranteed that their photos beat everyone to facebook etc.
    * Amateur 1 - had a carbon tripod and ballhead setup under a tree and a long telephoto lens. Shooting Nikon I think. Worried this guy might be an Uncle Bob, but far from it - very considerate and unobtrusive. Shot everything from the tripod. Saw some of his photos by email later - really good work.
    * Amateur 2 - middle-aged woman. Had a Canon Rebel something and kit zoom. Loudly said many times that she was the 'candid photographer' - whatever that means. Was all over the place shooting pictures, sometimes a little much. Did want to mention to her, 'hey, there is a reason wedding photographers don't wear heels and an evening gown' but I'm pretty sure she figured that out pretty quickly.
    * Amateur 3 - uncle bob. Sat in the front row with a high end P&S camera, standing up to snap pics of each couple coming down the isle, making comment, etc. I later learned he was the father of the groom, so I guess he had the right. I'm sure his constant up-down picture taking got in the way of the pros though.
    * Amateurs 4 - 999 - everyone with phones and P&S cameras. Mostly pretty considerate, standard wedding stuff.
    * Me - left my camera at home, like I usually do for weddings.
  38. There are always people taking photographs at weddings, generally it's part of the general fun. It only starts to become a problem where someone is excessively persistent, always popping up, shadowing you, photographing over your shoulder etc. It's quite rare that it gets that bad, but it doesn't happen. Generally if a guest is more concerned with photography throughout the day than enjoying him/herself at the wedding, that's probably the yardstick for when it's starting to become a problem.
  39. Here's another twist:
    Earlier this summer I shot my sister-in-law's wedding. She had a hired "pro" whom I met with prior to the ceremony to discuss photographic etiquette that I would try to observe. He told me to do what I felt since he only really started shooting weddings to make his partner's DJ business more attractive. (i.e. you get a DJ and a photographer for the low low price of only $1500)
    I allowed the pro to present his product before my family got to see the shots I took. I did this out of respect for the pro and I heard the complaints from my in-laws after a week or so. I used the excuse of "post processing" to give the pro more time. After seeing his results, I give him credit. He presented better than reasonable quality for what he charged. He presented a hard cover photo book, (which has since fallen apart at the binding), a DVD slideshow, a video, (yes he was videoing and taking stills), and a DVD of high resolution photos.
    I then presented a DVD of high resolution of still images. The B&G have made a few prints from both my disc and the pro's. We had very different styles and although we may have gotten shots of the same event, and sometimes within a split second of each other, the results are very different.
    Personally, I think we complimented each other. I would never shoot a wedding for the price he charged, but the old adage is "you get what you pay for" Although this is not always true, I feel that it rings true more often than not. Would a B&G know the difference? Maybe not...but that's not for you or I to decide.
    Go to work, do your best, and make dame sure your photos are better than the unpaid photographers. After all...you're the one getting paid.
  40. Lucas, I don't believe I said that I wanted complete freedom in 'my turf' and total lack of interference from guests trying to take pictures, so no, I don't think I'm being unrealistic. I've been shooting weddings for a long time, and have coped with interference and disturbance for that long. As previously stated, I used to help people trying to shoot with serious gear. The problem today is that people with serious gear have multiplied, with many of them professing goals to become wedding photographers.
    Taking my example of being able to move when I want to. Should there have been only one other enthusiast, I could pick another, similar spot, or a second choice. If there are 5 enthusiasts all over the place, I'd probably have to abandon moving at all. What suffers? The variety of images I would have gotten for the couple. I guess I could just 'chill' and not worry about the 'untaken' shots, or maybe fall back and photograph the scrum of enthsiasts all scrambling for the shot in front of the couple, but then the images become about the enthusiasts and not the couple. But the real issue is still there--those enthusiasts are limiting my choices, making my job more difficult. It is that simple.
    Also as previously stated, I understand the desire to just have fun shooting. One can do so and not affect the hired photographer's job, but many enthusiasts choose to photograph the same things I am photographing. Really--I don't need a back up photographer--this is why I ask myself whether these enthusiasts are shooting for the couple or for themselves.
  41. Jon--it doesn't sound like ego in your case. Hope you have a good time with your photography. If you did as you describe at a wedding I was photographing, I'd have no problem with you. :^) You can tell the hired photographer at the wedding that you have my stamp of approval.
  42. For me it's just a matter of educating the B&G before the event. I'm lucky (or not!) that I have an image from a wedding I shot where the first kiss is blocked by someone standing up in the middle of the aisle to take a picture. I always show this picture at my final consultation before the wedding and ask, "Will you have anyone at your wedding who might do this?" It never fails to create an "Oh my God" moment. I find that it immediatly makes the couple aware of the danger of allowing too much "free reign" from friends and family.
    I don't worry too much about enthusiastic amateurs running around the wedding or getting into my shots. I have a responsibility to my client but it stops short of telling guests what to do.
    Where I do have a problem is when someone wants to shoot my setups. An earlier comment mentioned that more and more people are getting good equipment and that's true... but great equipment doesn't teach you to pose and position a shot. Whenever I am posing I respectfully ask people not to take pictures because it causes the subjects to look away. That's the main reason but close behind is my desire to protect my pose from showing up in some other photographer's portfolio.
    I don't protect every setup. If I position the bridal party in the traditional altar shot I'll let people take pictures after I am finished. That pose is universal. However, if someone with good equipment were to try and take the shot below and claim it as their own, I'd have a serious problem with it. The artistic value of this shot has nothing to do with the person operating the camera. It's the posing that makes it unique.
    If someone shot this pose and tried to pass it off as their work... would they be out of line?
  43. Oooh. This is a very interesting thread for me as I'm definitely an amateur and I'm going to a lot of wedding this fall that I planned on using as a chance to improve my people photographing skill (which I sorely lack). I have to say, I never really thought of some of the issues that people are bringing up. I'll preface this by saying that I have seen some very annoying people at wedding acting as if they are the pros that pretty much disgust me (ok, maybe disgust is taking it a bit far) the way they shoulder into everyone's way.
    I would certainly never do that, and when I am at a wedding I really try to stay off to the side. I have never done things like tag along when shooting formals. I've only ever walked around taking pictures of people during the reception, the cake, flowers, etc. It has never occured to me that doing something like this would be a problem with the pro, and I'm having a hard time convincing myself that it is a justifiable thing to get so worked up over it.

    I can definitely see that if the people are getting in your way that it would be a problem. But being working up over someone not acknowledging you as the "primary shooter" on facebook? Hmmm. I'll have to mull it over, but I'm not buying it. I'm also not sure that I'll buy Booray's argument either. I've never been to a wedding where there haven't been people (relatives, wedding party, etc) taking pictures of the formal shots at the same time as the photographer. Have you really not had that happen? And if you have, I'm sure the majority of them have ended up on facebook and you were never once mentioned. I personally am not sure that that photo would be anything special at all taken by Uncle Bob and put online. Isn't the photo about composition, framing, settings, and post processing? 10 people could take that same picture all in a line and come up with completely different results at the end.
    I genuinely just love taking pictures and being up in the action. I certainly have never had some kind of egotistical intentions while photographing and I certainly hope no pro photographer has ever gotten that impression. My goal is always for them NOT to notice me. The wedding I'm going to on Sunday is actually with the same photographer who shot my wedding. She's also photographed a charity "event" for me, so I'm semi-friendly with her. I'm kind of curious now and might bring the topic up with her for another POV.
  44. Justine said:
    I'm also not sure that I'll buy Booray's argument either. I've never been to a wedding where there haven't been people (relatives, wedding party, etc) taking pictures of the formal shots at the same time as the photographer. Have you really not had that happen? And if you have, I'm sure the majority of them have ended up on facebook and you were never once mentioned. I personally am not sure that that photo would be anything special at all taken by Uncle Bob and put online. Isn't the photo about composition, framing, settings, and post processing? 10 people could take that same picture all in a line and come up with completely different results at the end.
    Let's keep in mind that the original poster said that the other photographer was building a portfolio and in my comment I said, " However, if someone with good equipment were to try and take the shot below and claim it as their own..." I'm not talking about the P&S people. I'm talking about the beginner who is shooting with the intention of marketing themselves as a wedding photographer.
    I spent time setting up that shot. I told them where to stand, how to stand and exactly what to do with their hands. They aren't just hanging out. Now, whether or not it's a great portrait is debatable but there is no doubt that it is my portrait. For anyone else to shoot it and claim it as an example of their talent and expertise would be unethical.
  45. Just for fun:
    can a provide you with a relatively recent "groom perspective"?
    • we looked at the photographer's portfolio and hired him. Our wedding was shot on medium format film, but I did not ask anything. I believe it's a professionals choice as to which equipment he wants to use;
    • we did not discuss anything before the wedding (except the contractual arrangements);
    • we did not discuss anything during the wedding, except that the pictures would be more than originally agreed, simply because my wife wanted to have pictures of all participants;
    • we did not mention other photographers (there were a few). Our professional did not have any difficulties;
    • most of the photos were candids and we liked them (I look clumsy when I pose).
    It makes me laugh when I read about "educating the B&G".
    The organisation of a wedding - of our wedding - was so fatiguing, and there were so many things to take care of - most important our wedding itself - that I could not care less about what the photographer did. He was doing his job. If he had told me to "instruct the photographing guests not to stand in his way" I would have politely replied that this was his business and that I couldn't possibly control this.
    I'm sure that experienced wedding photographers know that the B&G
    • are distressed and tense
    • are in a special moment of their life, with strong inner significance
    • want to have fun and no additional issues to those they already have to deal with
    • most likely are the only ones who know all the guests and they have to take care of each and every one. We hardly came to eat anything at the reception. Does this ring something?
    • in some way have to take care of the operation of the whole event, since they are the organiser (we had not hired a wedding planner :).)
    • that the "photographic" part of the wedding is not important to them on the day of the wedding. It will become when they come back from the honeymoon.
    In brief: when I hire a professional, most of all on occasion of an important event like my wedding, I want him/her to solve the problems on his/her own and I don't want to be involved in this.
    It's only the result that counts, not the process.
  46. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "If someone shot this pose [over your shoulder - at that venue] and tried to pass it off as their work... would they be out of line?"
    "I've never been to a wedding where there haven't been people (relatives, wedding party, etc) taking pictures of the formal shots at the same time as the photographer."
    I have - about ⅓, or a bit more, of all the Weddings we shot. My clients and packages were big on the formal shots, often at third location: i.e. neither the Church nor the Reception House. The new studio owner still works this way.
    Common also at Weddings where I have been a guest, for the Photographer to exit with the B&G for a Formal Session.
  47. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “a relatively recent "groom perspective”

    Luca, your tale shows me that you (and your wife):
    • did adequate research
    • found a professional photographer who was also versed in people skills and communication
    • have a polite circle of family and friends
    • had a really nice Wedding
    . . . “educating a client” doesn’t mean sitting them down and lecturing them . . . I understand the comment to mean “imparting information as and when necessary – but Booray will correct me if my interpretation is wrong.
  48. IMO Booray is absolutely correct and illustrates that the professional element of his image has little to do with the camera or lens selection. A good pro will also likely sense when a guest will jump in the isle for the "first kiss" shot and position himself closer to the altar, or in most cases, I find myself getting close to the altar anticipating the need to prevent someone from jumping in front of my camera. Most videographers have joined me as I moved up the isle and take their shot over my shoulder.
  49. Luca -
    William is right, of course.
    You said, "it's the results that count, not the process." When the "process" is occurring in the middle of your wedding. it counts a great deal. I can't tell you how many times I have had a client tell me that they attended a wedding where the photographer was pushy or demanding during the formals. The last thing I want to do is become a distraction because I am desperate to achieve a result that is more important to me than the B&G. However, if the B&G are depending on me to get certain results, I will get them. I discuss this beforehand so that I have a clear idea of how far I should push to get the shot.
    The best example I can give you of why I discuss "Uncle Bob" with my clients (and they always laugh when I explain that the phenomenon is so common that we have given it a name) is from a wedding last year (told to me by the bride after the wedding). I was shooting the groomsmen in the center aisle and people kept wandering into my shot. After asking three times for everyone to please stop standing at the altar, a bridesmaid turned to the bride and asked, "Why is the photographer being such an a**hole?" The bride replied, "Because I told him to be..."
    As for the groom's perspective... that's about right. The bride, however, is usually much more concerned about the photography. Waiting until after the honeymoon to think it's "important" is too late. Educating the client as to some of the situations that might interfere with their images is my responsibility. I also ask if there are any pranksters in the wedding party who might spoil a desired shot. The example I cite is the wedding where the bride specifically asked me to get a shot of the two of them looking out the window of the car, only to discover that one of the groomsmen had covered the window in condoms. I don't care if the window is covered in condoms, I'm there to document the event. However, the bride might care and she will appreciate being given the opportunity to address that problem before it happens. The groom rarely cares about the photography but for many brides it's second only to the dress in importance.
    I shot a wedding last year where the clergy mentioned me before the start of the wedding (with no prompting on my part). He was explaining what was about to happen (it was a catholic mass) when he pointed to me and said, "You'll all notice that Cheryl and Matt have hired a professional photographer to take incredible pictures of their wedding. That means you don't have to. Please don't take pictures during the ceremony or get in his way" I could have kissed the guy. (BTW - when I approached him at the rehearsal to ask about lighting restrictions, he said, "What do you mean?"
    "Most catholic churches don't allow flash photography during the ceremony," I said.
    "Oh, I don't care about that," he said, "My only rule is: If you see steps, don't go up them."
    Coolest. Priest. Ever.
  50. Booray,
    there are some very bright catholic priests, in fact (these are those I know).
    Maybe my "tale" was taken a bit too literally: if the result counts, the process counts, of course.
    But in my experience - my personal experience - it's a bit tough to expect the b&g to take care of it during the ceremony :).
  51. In this case, educating the client means pointing out to them how steps taken before the day can positively affect the flow of the day and the final product. IMHO, the 'educating' does not take place on the day, and isn't a list of demands. Just suggestions made with the couple in mind, not the photographer.
    I certainly don't bother the couple with petty problems the day of. If I was having issues with enthusiast photographers, I would not go whining to the bride and groom on their wedding day. As stated above, I have dealt with and continue to deal with other photographers at weddings. Up until recently it hasn't been much of a problem. It is now, but I still don't make any attempt to 'educate' my clients about this issue beforehand. Perhaps I will have to start doing so.
    Luca--as William W. pointed out, you had a nice wedding, and you have nice friends. You also have to realize that your wedding may not be like all the other weddings in the world. I also agree that a groom's perspective can be very different from a bride's.
  52. Luca -
    Of course I wouldn't expect the B&G to take care of it during the ceremony. I'm sorry if it read that way.
    As usual, Nadine has said exactly what I would say. Sometimes I think it's a little spooky the way she seems to think and shoot almost exactly the way that I do. We all love Nadine.
    I also never bother my clients with petty stuff during the wedding. I'm a firm believer in a hassle free day for the couple. That's why I alert them to what "Uncle Bob" can do before the wedding. That way they can choose whether or not to address it beforehand. I've had a few cases where the B&G said, "OMG, my mother (or whomever) would totally do that!" They then tell their mother about the picture they saw at my studio and Mom is less likely to jump into the aisle during the processional. Or, they can say nothing and let the chips fall. I personally don't care what they do. I just want them to be aware of the possiblity so they can make an informed decision.
    I'll never forget the disappointed reaction of the bride who had her first kiss blocked by "Uncle Bob" (who happened to be her father, btw). If simply showing my B&G a picture of "Uncle Bob" in action can prevent that, it's worth it to me.
  53. Booray,
    Using a photo spoiled or marred by a guest photographer as a cautionary tale is a good idea and I have a couple such shots that I could show to brides myself.
    I was shooting a First Communion last spring. I had discussed the matter with the priest in advance and was given permission to take a position close to the altar where I could take a photo of each candidate as they received the sacrament from the priest. I stood there shooting kid after kid. I also had two big cameras hanging around my neck. It should have been obvious to the world that I was the pro presumably hired by the church, not a parent. So I was a bit surprised when some mom, as her kid was about to get to the priest, got out of the pew, came up front and stepped directly in front of me to take a photo with her little point and shoot. Frankly it was a rude and inconsiderate thing to do even if I had been just a parent. It's rude to step in front of somebody else who's taking a photograph—we all know that. I guess her feeling was, it's her kid, therefore she has a right. I am sure it didn't occur to her that she was being rude.
    C'est la guerre these days. It's not that people think they have a right to be rude, it's that so many people have no concept of what rudeness is. I'm not a curmudgeon, but I do, as a former classics professor, have a long view of these things, and it's simply a fact that we live in an increasingly un-mannered world. Just one example: people have to be reminded, very pointedly, not to talk on their cell phones during movies, and not to text, either.
    Add to that the fact that practically everybody has a camera of some sort and practically everybody has the urge to take their OWN photo of the event. There's some deep cultural imperative at work here, and frankly, I think it's made a difference to the perception of photographic quality—not to mention quality in lots of other fields.
    I lived through something similar in the mid-80s when the early Mac made desktop publishing possible. People stopped paying the local print shop to layout their company newsletter and started doing it themselves in Word or (soon enough) Pagemaker or Ready Set Go or whatever, with the goal of using as many fonts on a single page as possible. It was a nadir in the history of publishing.
    The good news is that the desktop publishing "revolution" eventually fizzled. The bad news is, it took about 15 years.
    Now I'm a little unsure about this analogy's pertinence. After all, photography has been growing in popularity among the hoi polloi since Eastman introduced the Kodak in 1888. Nevertheless, the digital revolution in photography does seem to me to be a special case. Now people don't have to wait at all to see their photos, not even an hour. It's a big deal. And I have a hunch that the confusion that we're experiencing right now will sooner or later be resolved, and the skills of really good still photographers will once again be recognized as having a special value. Markets might shrink, but I don't foresee the need for pro photographers disappearing completely.
    Anyway, cautioning the bride and groom against this behavior seems beside the point. I have never had the bride or groom shooting at their own wedding (yet—it'll happen sooner or later, I'm sure). The people who really need the warning are the guests. And there's no way to get that warning to them, not that I can think of.
    Hence my conclusion: there's no getting around this. We have to wait for the current photographic frenzy to pass—for the average person to learn enough about photography to begin to realize that pros actually CAN take better photos. And in the meantime, we have to try to get paid in advance and be as nice as we can while working.
  54. From my perspective as a photographer, past bride, as well as past friend of bride asked to take "extra" pictures.......

    When I got married, I hired a acquaintance that I worked with, but that wasn't into wedding photography. I knew she was very capable with a camera, and to me who is very camera shy, I thought, "Great, I don't really care about my own wedding images...." Technically they turned out fine. But as for poses, group shots, they pretty much sucked. She told me before hand she didn't do groups or posed shots, so I was fine with that up front. Overall, I was happy, because, I got pictures of the day, that were in focus, exposed correctly (pre-digital), and documented my wedding, and I didn't have to sit there posing at all. I have some regrets about not getting any posed or group shots, but not too many. I also had my best friend bring her camera - and while I knew that she was not proficient with it, I knew that she knew all the people that were really important to me, who everyone was, and that if she just put her camera on auto she would probably get some shots that I would like. The non-pro I hired of course was fine with this. The friends pictures had some technical issues, (blurry images, camera not advancing a full frame)..but at least she knew all the important people in my life, and was able to single those out, as opposed to getting friends of my mom's that showed up, that I didn't even know.... But that is my experience, and I am a person who loves making photographs of others, and am much more happy behind than in front of the lens.

    Year ago, when my best friend got married, she hired an excellent pro. She also asked me to bring my camera. At the time, I wasn't doing weddings (had done a few), but was interested in starting. I never even thought about interfering with the pro. In fact, I hardly ever saw him. He was only at the first hour of the reception to do formal posed family shots. I never once tagged over his shoulder or was even near him. But once he packed up I was able to get some fun shots because once again, I knew the family's well, and knew who was central to the wedding party and who was peripheral. I think that is one reason a bride often asks friends is to cover the gap between the posed/formal/standard shots (cake cutting, dance, etc... ) and the peripheral close friends that are hanging out more behind the scenes.
    As a photographer, I too am annoyed by the over the shoulder, let me grab a few of that pose, shooters. I am totally fine with anyone, big or small equipment, getting whatever they can that is out of the way. I always have a chat with the clients before the wedding, telling them, if they want their friend shooting over my shoulder, it is their wedding, and I am in their service, but as a result, they will get less from me, in time, number and quality of images. Most people understand that, and kindly ask friends to shoot elsewhere. But ultimately I feel, it is the clients wedding and if they want Bob shooting beside me, as long as they pay me, and understand fully why I discourage it, I am fine with it.

    My last story, is of a wedding I was hired to do. The night before the wedding, I hear from the bride telling me she had hired two photographers, me and another, without telling either of us. The other photographer had been "given" to her as a wedding gift. She felt bad, but didn't know how to explain it to the other photographer that she had already asked me. She had even gone through the hassle of doing two bridal shoots, one with each of us. So on the day of, she tells him that he will also be shooting with me. That one went off a little bad! But ultimately, as long as we are paid, we have to do what the bride asks of us, so we sucked it up, and though neither of us were happy with the situation, we just go on, making it the best possible day for the bride and groom, with the best possible images. It made a longer day for the couple, as they felt obliged to let us each get our own little session in....

    So in my opinion, to sum up...Yes, you have to protect yourself in your contract, and of course your ego is concerned with getting the best/most images for itself. But in the end, we are paid by the bride/groom. It is their day and we are there to service them and make them happy. They need to understand the circumstances under which we can best do that (in contract), but we need to also understand that the world doesn't revolve around us filling out our portfolio. We are there to document the day as it is. If Bob is there with his camera, that is a part of their day... and we don't set the tone to the wedding. The couple getting married do. If they want to curse Bob off the scene, that is their prerogative, not mine. If they want him hanging over my shoulder, I am only the hired image maker, not the girl who has been planning this day for her entire life.
  55. William--I had one groom who whipped his P&S out while he was recessing down the aisle and photographed his wife and himself while walking. As I was also photographing them, I was momentarily startled, but since the aisle was fairly long, I still got some shots without the P&S in it. In fact, I took several pictures of them looking into the P&S's LCD.
    Another thing that hasn't been brought up is that, I suspect, part of the ego I mentioned above is the act of photographing, and not the actual end result. I figured this out when I was photographing a Bar Mitzvah and a slew of kids whipped out their cell phones to take pictures of the activities. I had just been talking to a friend about that friend's teenaged kids, whom she claimed took a ton of pictures but then erased them almost immediately. The pictures didn't matter--the act of taking the pictures mattered. I can see that one can get a thrill out of shooting up a storm with one's DSLR at a wedding--acting and feeling like the wedding photographer. Also, taking pictures can be used as a social lubricant--a bonding tool--a way to make a fuss over the bride and groom.
  56. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “Photography has been growing in popularity among the hoi polloi since Eastman introduced the Kodak in 1888. Nevertheless, the digital revolution in photography does seem to me to be a special case. Now people don't have to wait at all to see their photos, not even an hour. It's a big deal. And I have a hunch that the confusion that we're experiencing right now will sooner or later be resolved, and the skills of really good still photographers will once again be recognized as having a special value.”

    The problem is, since digital: all the Congregations, Uncle Bobs and Soccer Mums notice the “Professionals” carrying out a very, very special routine . . . Shoot then look at LCD screen / Shoot Look at LCD screen / etc.
    Once that stops happening: the tide will turn . . . -:)
  57. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I had just been talking to a friend about that friend's teenaged kids, whom she claimed took a ton of pictures but then erased them almost immediately. The pictures didn't matter--the act of taking the pictures mattered."​
    A performance, which is linked to my point, above.
  58. Writes Nadine O:
    William--I had one groom who whipped his P&S out while he was recessing down the aisle and photographed his wife and himself while walking.​
    Oh, my. Wow.
    Well, you have more experience than I. I'll try to prepare myself mentally for the day this happens to me.
  59. Here in the mid-west, most Catholic ceremonies do allow flash. Otherwise Booray has the right idea. Balancing being assertive for crowd control while still being a fun element of the wedding is the trick. Again, people skills combined with experience is the key.
  60. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Re the Catholics - I too have commented before - most suburban Churches here (Aus) are OK with Flash, it does vary though. The strictest (in the Christian Faiths) about Flash, as a general rule, are the Methodists and Presbyterians and Baptists - but that is a generalization also.
    People skills and communication - and being polite etc - - - all of the above are the keys.
  61. Here's a simple solution:
    -try to explain that your skills took you years to perfect and is a "know how" of your own
    -if you wanted to share those skills you'd arrange for a PAID seminar with appropriate fee for pros and wanna bees to take part in it
    -if their friend wanted to shadow you, they'd have to pay a fee equivalent to the trade standard ($500-1500) and you'd be glad to teach such a lesson
    -finally, ask the bride/groom if their are willing to sacrifice their wedding day for a lesson with questionable results form the "student" photographer and a distracted professional. - I don't think so.
    P.S. provided ones work is really good, of course. Also, make sure the student gives their card with all the material to the teacher at the end for them to have a copy

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