Photographing a wedding as a guest - Advice needed

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by bluphoto, May 19, 2008.

  1. My sister-in-law is getting married in a couple of months, and I thought I'd use their
    wedding as a chance to get a "feel" for it. I don't ever want to be a wedding
    photographer (too much pressure), but this would give me a nice opportunity
    for "no-risk" brownie points, as well as the potential for a few portfolio shots, and
    maybe a good venue for networking etc.

    I asked them if they thought it would be okay, as I would think that some official
    wedding photographers might resent an "amateur" snooping around. Of course, I
    really will probably only take candid shots, but I'd also like to do some
    more "traditionally posed" shots of the couple, and maybe some of the guests.
    They tell me that they;d be delighted for me to practice my skills, and that I
    shouldn't worry about the other photographer as they're "paying him anyway".

    I don't want to stand on anyones toes, and I really don't want to p!ᆪᆪ off the hired
    photographer. Exactly why, I'm not sure - I just don't

    I know the photographer comes as "part of the package" arranged by the hotel
    where they are holding their reception, and so his fee for attendance is probably
    quite low. Because of this, I assume he may rely on print sales for the majority of
    his return.

    I don't expect to produce any material to compete with his, but hey, if I get a
    handful of lucky shots, wouldn't it be rude for me not to let the couple have access
    to them, indeed I was toying with the idea of having one of those "photo-books"
    printed up for them. That said, if he's a "package photographer" rather than an
    independant, then I really have no idea what the quality will be like?

    I'm taking a 5D and 20D, I'll probably use the 24-70/2.8 on the full frame 5D, with
    the 70-200/2.8IS on the crop 20D for long candids. I'll also probably use the 85/1.8
    for a handful of informal head shots, although I was toying with hiring the 85/1.2L
    for the day, just to see what it can do. I know the wedding location doesn't allow
    flash photography in the church, so I reckoned I'd stand in the gallery at the back
    with the 5D on a tripod with cable release, at about ISO400 and 70-200@2.8 -
    maybe with a 1.4xTC - They should be standing pretty still by then, so a relatively
    long shutter would be okay, I think.

    Any other tips would be appreciated - especially things like "how not to put the
    official photographers nose out of joint". I'm not getting in his way, but I'll obviously
    be doing my best to get the best shots I can.

    Many thanks
    Guy Carnegie
  2. If you have no intention of ever being a wedding photographer I don't understand why you want to do this. If you are going to pursue some other type of photography I would put my energy towards that rather than shoot a wedding which is something you dont ever want to do.
    I dont think you should try to do any posed shots and it sounds like you are going to be in the way of the other photographer.
  3. I think "being in the way" to me means disrupting his work. I won't do that.

    No, I want to do informal portraits, not specifically weddings. Maybe right to stay out of the way of posed shots.

    Then again, I have no intention of ever being a landscape photographer either, but it's not going to stop me taking photos if I see a lovely vista when I'm on holiday somewhere.

    As an enthusiast in photography, I think it's a bit too early to specialise, but who's to say if I ever decide to go down that particular road in future, that a few portfolio images would be unwelcome.
  4. Assuming the other photographer is worth his salt - which I'm sure he will be, then I don't see any reason why he should feel uncomfortable or threatened. I'm not going to disrupt him while he's taking photos, and I'm not going to disrupt his subjects either.

    I just wanted to confirm that in general, wedding photographers don't feel threatened by guests taking photo's. Of course, if I'm making him feel uncomfortable then all he has to do is tell me - I won't try to give him any tips or direction (as if I could!), and if he wants to give me any suggestions as to how to improve my photography, then that'd of course be welcome.

  5. Hi Guy. Yes you will be interfering with the hired photog. You will be distracting the B&G. They will be looking at you while the should be paying attention to the hired photog. The time window for the posed formal shots is very small.
    If you would like to lay back and shot candids of the action and reaction of the guest,then that would not pose any problems. Shoot the goings on of the wedding and present that to the B&G. They would like that. I would stop it at that,other wise you will be in the way.
  6. By the way,I do shoot weddings. I have to deal with the situations as you just described. That makes my job more difficult than it should be.
  7. Tell the b&g, who invited you to take photos, not to pay any attention to you while the photog is shooting. Shoot whatever you want including the formals if you like from an unintrusive angle. Use common sense in knowing that the paid photog is there to do a job that the b&g want him to do so be respectful by keeping yourself and your flash out of his way.
    Go ahead and print that photo book you were talking about. Don't worry about cutting into the photog's print revenue. That's his concern not yours.
    If he gives you trouble, tells you to stop shooting, explain to him that you're a guest invited to take photos, and take photos is what you'll continue doing. The party's about the b&g and their guests having fun, not the hired help. The hired help have a job to do and as long as you stay out of his way he'll be able to accomplish that job and make the money his talent demands.
  8. I shot a wedding last weekend and this is the conversation I heard over my

    Woman (who was holding a Canon rebel): "Well I could do that, I have the same
    camera they have". Man: "Um, I think their lenses are way bigger, and maybe the
    camera too." Woman: "Oh well I have a bigger lens in the car!"

    Point being, everyone who has pro or prosumer equipment now thinks that qualifies
    them to shoot wedding photos. That's part of the reason why we keep getting all
    these critique my work posts with stuff that looks like it was shot with a 110mm pink
    barbie camera.

    I don't profess to be the worlds greatest photographer, but I worked my behind off to
    learn before I opened shop to charge people money, and it's attitudes like Mike and
    Guy's that make my job so much harder.

    There is a big difference between bringing "a" camera and shooting candids at the
    reception or bringing camera equipment (i.e. two bodies, lens, etc) and setting up
    your camera at the church, or shooting formals.

    Whether you mean to or not, you will inadvertently get in the way of the real wedding
    photographer, I see it all the time. It will make him mad, I'm already mad for him!
    How would you feel if he came to your shoots and just shot around you? Of course
    the bride and groom won't say no, they're free shots of their wedding day, and they
    don't know any better to understand that you are going to make his job harder, and
    the "moments" you are getting might be the same ones he's standing beside you to
    get. So, what? You should sell yours instead of him, even though it's his job? Or
    lose sales for him because you are supplementing the B & G with those shots?
    What you are intending is unprofessional, and as a person who claims to be a
    photographer I expect better from you on behalf of the man who is working this
    wedding for a living.
  9. Check this thread:

    Also, no one seems to have suggested the obvious: Ask the photographer.

    I actually did this a year & a alf ago at my wife's best friends wedding. I used no flash, stayed out of his way, occasionally helped by finding people, and I got some neat shots that he posed, and gave them to my wife, as she was a bridesmaid.

    But I also spoke w/ the photog & made sure he was ok with it. I saw his shots - MUCH better than mine. And we even talked shop a little as he waited for ppl to get into position.

    In short - no here knows what the photog will want (unless s/he's o here). So ask. And respect his decision.
  10. This would be on the 24th, bride & groom 1st intials are S & T. If so, please contact me - I will be there & would like to get lots of pictures & stay out of the way. :)
  11. In my opinion pitching up as a guest at a wedding, lugging two chunky SLR's with big fat lenses in daft. It will draw lots of attention to yourself and immediately set off alarm bells with the official photographer. I would never do that as it would make me feel very uncomfortable. I recently attended a wedding in Italy as a guest and only took my 5D with a Tamron 28-75mm and a 50mm F1.8, that's it, no flash. It all fitted into a small camera bag and was small enough not to make a spectacle of myself. The 5D with a 50mm F1.8 and ISO 3200 is pretty good! In summary I suggest a single body with maybe one or two small lenses. This setup will allow you to get good portfolio shots, assuming you have some ability. But, each to his own.
  12. As long as you stay out of the photographers way, and you don't distract the bride
    and groom while the photographer is trying to work, then how can there be a
    problem? Make sure the wedding photographer knows he has priority. No one yet
    has mentioned talking to the photographer and telling him your situation. If he has a
    problem, I don't think that necessarily means you should leave your camera at
    home, but do your best to stay away. I don't think any wedding photographer has
    any right to tell you not to take pictures at the wedding of someone you are close to.
    The ceremony and set up shots are the wedding photographer's. The rest is fair
    game. Have fun and good luck shooting.
  13. I actually wrote an article on this subject for But I really didn't like the way it came together and I couldn't get it to "feel" right. Writer's/editor's block I guess.

    The short version:

    1. Talk to the bride and see if the photographer is working on a "print sales" or a "package price" basis. If the pro isn't doing print sales, then you won't have to worry as much about stealing their kids dinner money. If they are, the polite thing to do would be to not give the B/G access to your images until AFTER the pro has made a majority of his/her sales.

    2. Talk to the pro photographer when you get there. Let them know what's up and that you won't be in their way.

    4. Stay out of the pro photographer's way. I can't stress this enough. Anyone in your position who steps in front of the pro photographer's lens to get a better shot if "the kiss" deserves to be punched in the nose.

    5. Don't repeat the pro's shots. He/she will be better equipped and better skilled to shoot the formals and other standard photos. Repeating them will be a waste of precious time (which there never seems to be enough of at a wedding) and an annoyance to the photographer and probably the wedding party (who will be sick of standing still and smiling). I would be pissed if I couldn't find the parents of the bride because some other photographer had them off trying to re-take photos I had already done.

    6. Play to your strengths. The photographer can't be everywhere at once, so take the candids that he/she won't see. You probably have the advantage of being friends with a number of the wedding guests, they will be at ease with you and your camera. Take advantage of that. These are the moments that people really cherish.

    7. Did I mention staying out of the pro photographer's way? I can't stress this enough.
  14. Howdy!

    I only have one rule regarding other photographers:

    Nobody except me shooting during formals.

    Chances are, if you follow this one simple rule, you will be OK.


  15. Everyone has a camera. Wedding photographers need to accept that.<br>
    Definitely the wedding photographer should be given priority in all situations. Not because he is the great and powerful everybody stay out of my way I am the learned photographer, but out of respect for the b&g because his work is costing money. If he takes them off to the side for a shoot, be respectful and don't follow, but shoot all you want.<br>
    If you're off to the side, not taking the attention of the photog's subjects, he should be able to control his anger issues (that you may have dared to bring more than one body/lens, and god forbid you have an slr!) and he'll do a good job.<br>
    As for prints, and lost revenue. Hey, if your photos are just as good as the photog's photos (and how could they possibly be - you're not the 'qualified' photographer), why should the b&g have to shell out more money? The photog's already had his fee for being there, setting up the scenes, and capturing everything professionally. And because you were respectful and stayed out of his way during, he was given the choice location to shoot from so his photos better be superior to your snapshots.<br>
    Myself, I'd concentrate on the things the photog wasn't pointing his lens at. That said, weddings aren't about photographers monopolizing the light in order to make a living. I'd have no feelings of guilt whatsoever for capturing a shot that the photog was hoping to sell.<br>
  16. I agree with Josh. However, I just want to add that there is no black and white, as usual, with this issue. Some pros WILL feel threatened just by seeing you with all that gear, which is at the pro level, particularly if the pro has equal or 'lesser' gear. Some pros don't care and would welcome some 'help' and the chance to direct you so that the efforts on both of your parts are cooperative and benefit the couple. I suggest trying to talk to the photographer beforehand and then seeing where you are, keeping your ego out of this. It is that simple.

    It would be polite to withhold your images until the couple sees the professional ones. You can determine how to handle that after YOU see the professional ones. Keep in mind that an image looks much better to a person if they are getting it free. Josh's suggestion about finding out how the pro is charging is a good one. Remember, it is about the couple and their wedding, not about your having fun shooting. If a choice has to be made, it should support the couple.
  17. Depends on personalities as much as anything. I think the fact that you've asked this question makes it unlikely that you're the type of person who'll get in the way. I guess it depends if they feel uncomfortable - though I can't think of any reason why they should. There's certainly no reason why anyone's nose should be 'out of joint' - photographers at weddings are pretty thick on the ground these days.
    My advice would be shoot what you want, and give it to whomever you want. Most of the other guests will share their pictures with the bride and groom so no reason for you not to do so as well. Be mindful of the formals, though in case you disrupt the flow. Most professionals generally make a point of giving guests access once they've got their shots, so suggest just wait for the right moment.
    Nadine's point about deferring showing your pictures until after the couple has seen the professional ones is interesting. I'm sure it's certainly polite, and that's no bad thing. But again, personalities and approaches are different so YMMV. You can bet that other guests won't be so accommodating, so I'm not sure if there's any reason for you to consider yourself a special case.
  18. "I'm taking a 5D and 20D, I'll probably use the 24-70/2.8 on the full frame 5D, with the 70-200/2.8IS on the crop 20D for long candids. I'll also probably use the 85/1.8 for a handful of informal head shots, although I was toying with hiring the 85/1.2L for the day, just to see what it can do. I know the wedding location doesn't allow flash photography in the church, so I reckoned I'd stand in the gallery at the back with the 5D on a tripod with cable release, at about ISO400 and 70-200@2.8 - maybe with a 1.4xTC - They should be standing pretty still by then, so a relatively long shutter would be okay, I think."

    Sounds pretty obnoxious to me, and I don't even mind when guests are shooting weddings I'm hired to do. How about seeing what you can do with a minimum of equipment? Say the 5D with a straight 50? I understand, I can't go anywhere without my cameras either, but please keep it in perspective. you are a guest; enjoy yourself!

    Also, the pro's contract probably states their policy on other photographers. It doesn't matter if they're "paying him anyway" if they agreed to and signed a contract that says no other photographers. I think the very best idea is to either lay low (leave the heap of gear at home or in the car), or contact the photographer, and ask about their policies well ahead of time.
  19. Ty is right, ask the photographer.

    When I take my camera to a wedding I just take pictures of the guests. The guests will also be dressed nicely. Ask some of them to pose for you. I went to a wedding 2 days ago. I'd say that 90% of the photos taken by the pro were of the bride, groom, and immediate family. Many of the guests flew 3000 miles for this wedding but the pro doesn't have time to take pics of them so I only take pics of them. I don't spend a lot of time editing them but the bride and groom are always happy to see pics of cousins, uncles, former college friends, etc. even if they aren't pro quality.
  20. Guy, I haven't read the whole thread, but have shot a lot of weddings.

    If you really want to be of service to the bride and groom and their families, and to improve your photographic skills, shoot the relationships, emotions, and "moments" at the wedding that the pro is not able to cover, and do it away from where (s)he is working.

    For example, while the pro is shooting the wedding party, pose the youngest and oldest family members together. Do family portraits of the bride's friends with hubby and child(ren). Pose four generations of males or females from a family together; get a group shot of all mums with babies. You get the drift.

    Also, while the pro is concentrating on the speakers during the toasts, get tight reaction shots of the laughter and tears of parents, grandparents, and close friends in the audience.

    Your photos will delight everyone, and provide a priceless record that the pro did not have time to shoot, and was not expected to create. You will advance your skills while showing professional courtesy to the pro, and demonstrating your respect and affection for your sister-in-law and family in a lasting way.

    You will also have a lot of fun, without the pressure that the pro is under to get everything just right, first time, and on schedule. Enjoy the day!
  21. I hope I didn't come across as being obnoxious, it's certainly not my normal "style", but apologies if anyone thought I was. I wanted to give you an idea of the type of equipment I was intending taking so you could understand why I might be worried about making the pro feel uneasy.

    I am not a photographer by trade, and am only a photographer by hobby. I don't call myself a photographer. I don't think my equipment is anything special, and most of it could certainly not be called "top end", although it pretty much does what I need it to in the studio. Of course, if the photographer is a "tech-head" then I assume he'll have more expensive equipment than me anyway. If not, and I hope not, then I don't think equipment will matter.

    I would bring only one body and a couple of lenses, but I figured for candids two bodies might allow me quicker access to long and short setups. I hope no-one thinks I was trying to look flashy - hey look at me I've got two cameras! Who cares? If I was a tech-head, I think I'd have something newer and fancier than a 5D and 20D. They are functional, but minimal (logo's taped out too), and I wouldn't have to hire the 85/1.2 to see what all the fuss was about, I'd have one in my cupboard already, whether it was a good lens or not - so long as it looks expensive..

    The last thing I want to do is get in the photographers way, so as far as the formals go, I'll only take pictures once the pro gives way to the guests.

    That said I'm mainly looking for a fine art portrait type of shot, informal but unmistakeably oozing the "happiness" that you see in the faces of a newlywed couple. not something I'm going to get by shooting formals of the guests, so I'll need to concentrate on the happy couple to a certain degree, but probably more when they're at ease away from the posed formal shots.

    Maybe the ceremony pictures wouldn't be such a great idea this time, although I'd love to try ceremony shots sometime - such a beautiful moment, and I'd like to do something arty with those pictures. Not something you get access to every day though, unless you set it up for yourself - which I might consider doing at some point. The shot of the couple standing at the altar with the rays of light streaming in on them is hard to beat, and as someone who always has his mind on the photograph, I'd feel that'd I'd missed out on something, knowing that the guys at the back was getting it all and I'm stuck half way along the third row with my camera under the pugh.

    I guess it is harder for the pro to stay professional than it is for me, because he's the only one who's professional in the first place. Of course I can stay courteous and friendly, and ensure I don't distract his subjects while he's shooting, or distract him either - at least no more than any other guest would.

    Jims first response asked why I would want to do this, if I don't have any intention of ever being a wedding photographer. I guess some of it is because I want to try out many avenues of photography, and that I'd like to give the b&g the option of having some more images shot from a different perspective, but also because I want to get decent pictures of my friends and family at the wedding for myself without paying through the nose. Note that I'm not saying the going rate is too high for the market - just that it's too high for my pocket right now. Nothing wrong with that, surely.

    I have no idea what's in the contract, but I think the B&G's contract is with the hotel, who in turn supplied the package which includes the photograper. No mention of the package including the photographs - just the photographer - hence my suspicion that much of the photo revenue for this wedding may come from print sales. Neither b or g are well known for reading contracts particularly well.

    I've never heard of a contract where other photographers are excluded, but as I've mentioned earlier, I'm not a photographer, just an enthusiastic hobbyist, so I'm guessing such clauses would only apply to other hired professionals.

    Of course, I hear the case that anyone who takes pictures is a photographer, but that would have to include Aunt Mabel with her kodak instamatic, unless you're of the mind that it's the camera that makes the photographer. Something I believe firmly against.

    I do see that amateurs with ever smarter cameras definitely make it harder for professionals to make a decent living, as much of the market will happily accept a correctly exposed photograph as a good photograph. IMHO that is the price of progress (progress driven by the camera manufacturers and not by the people actually using the equipment). Photography is not the only field in which professionals are forced to move with the times. After all, what are modern entry level DSLR's designed for if it not to make it easier for people with less experience to produce better shots, which in some cases will rival those produced by some professional photographers - of course in many cases they will not. For gods sake "smile detection"! What next? What these cameras do NOT provide are the other services offered by a professional photographer, such as people organising, printing, and presentation etc - and I'm sure a lot more.

    I want to produce images that look professional, perhaps with a different slant, for my own satisfaction. I'm not looking to replace, or hinder, the photographer.

    thanks for the suggestions.
  22. Guy,

    Go and take pictures and have a good time. Be courteous and stay out of the photographers way and all that. That is expected. But there is no reason you can't take pictures as well. And you may very well get some shots that the bride and groom will treasure. The photographer is being paid to do a job. If you want to be polite, meet/call him/her ahead of time and let them know what your intentions are and have them make some suggestions. There are places where you could be in the way otherwise. But there is NO reason for you to feel like you should not be able to add some additional images to the mix for the couple. Just be mindful of your positioning and stay behind/beside the photographer. They should have the attention of the couple and guest, not you. If you can find a way to do that and get some good shots, go for it. It is absurd that others are telling you otherwise.
  23. I agree with "take just the 5D and a 50MM & flash" You'll force yourself to be more creative, and there'll be less hardware to prevent you from having a good time or get swiped!

    If you really want to go nuts shooting a wedding, find someone looking for a second shooter.

    If you attend a wedding, looking like a pro,with all kinds of gear around your neck, this would be enough to make any wedding photographer wonder "Who's this Guy?" Pun intended.
  24. I have shot in this situation and the rule is to NOT get in the way of the paid photographer, especially doing formals. Many people in attendance are going to be taking pictures not knowing the difference between their snapshot and a professional photograph. They will not be placing orders anyway.

    As for lenses, taking a longer focal length lens will allow you to stay out of the way of the professional photographer and to grab moments in the distance. I would take my 70-200 2.8 IS even though many people will mistake you for the paid photographer. ON the 5D this will be real nice. Since you actually know the people in attendance and can gauge what is happening you have a great advantage over the paid photographer who knows nobody and has to get all the mandatory shots of people he has never met before. Let him do his job and you be a 2nd or 3rd shooter. This winter I attended a very nice wedding at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens that had two paid shooters plus video. My cousin was disappointed in that they concentrated on the standard shots and formals and did not do a good job covering the event. This family is a rambunctious one and things get pretty wild. They wanted to capture that. Fortunately, I did.

    Get insurance on the equipment. If you are afraid to take it out, you should not buy it in the first place.
  25. "I asked them if they thought it would be okay, as I would think that some official wedding photographers might resent an "amateur" snooping around."

    Asking the couple will have no effect as to whether the photographer will be resentful, bothered or encumbered in their job.

    "and that I shouldn't worry about the other photographer as they're "paying him anyway"."

    Someone suggested this is the photographers problem, not yours. You're the one who mentioned the desire not to alienate the photographer so it IS your issue, Actually, its the couple's problem too but they don't realize it. The potential for distraction is very high and that can effect the results.

    "I really will probably only take candid shots"

    If this is away from the area where formals are being taken or other posed shots, the potential for causing interference or any actual difficulties will be greatly diminished. You can practice formals with others on other occasions in a more properly paced enviornment. Testing out one's skills at someone else's wedding probably not the best way to seek "brownie points" even though the couple is "delighted" in principle.

    If you intend to shoot formals and not cause the pro grief, I suggest consulting the pro about the best means to do so. (Don't be suprised if they indicate that time limits and the inevitable distractions will be very disruptive). If you shoot candids only away from formal sessions and poses and do not agressively occupy the scenes that the pro is trying to shoot, you should be all set.
  26. "Just be mindful of your positioning and stay behind/beside the photographer. They should have the attention of the couple and guest, not you."
    This is bad advice, Guy. If you are "behind/beside" the photog during the formals, someone in nearly every shot will be distracted and look out of the frame, ruining the shot. Your sister-in-law or her parents are paying the pro to get them flawless, memorable photos. You could easily undermine this process by hovering around the shoot, bristling with photo gear. Put yourself in the pro's position. Imagine the effect on your performance of someone bird-dogging you at crucial moments in your job.
    As several posters suggested above (speaking from experience and common sense, not arrogance), find subjects the pro is not shooting, and create a beautiful record of other aspects of the wedding.
  27. Wow, I am curious how many of those who have encouraged Guy to just go for it and shoot away are professional wedding photographers?

    "I'm not getting in his way, but I'll obviously be doing my best to get the best shots I can."

    "That said I'm mainly looking for a fine art portrait type of shot"

    "Maybe the ceremony pictures wouldn't be such a great idea this time, although I'd love to try ceremony shots sometime - such a beautiful moment, and I'd like to do something arty with those pictures. Not something you get access to every day though, unless you set it up for yourself - which I might consider doing at some point. The shot of the couple standing at the altar with the rays of light streaming in on them is hard to beat, and as someone who always has his mind on the photograph, I'd feel that'd I'd missed out on something, knowing that the guys at the back was getting it all and I'm stuck half way along the third row with my camera under the pugh."

    "I want to produce images that look professional, perhaps with a different slant, for my own satisfaction."

    Guy, I do not mean to be harsh or offend you, but with the statements above, it sounds like your goal is to be more than just a guest photographer. Most guest photographers are not out to take 'professional' looking images, they just want to capture photos of their loved ones. Whether you think so or not, based on the desired goals you've mentioned...IMHO you will likely get in the way of the pro photographer. You do not know the pro photographers style, what if he/she prefers to roam during the ceremony and what if you and your tripod & cable release are set up at a spot they need at just the right time they need to be there?

    I think it's really sad these days that so many guests feel the need to lug their big DSLRs with strobes and flash diffusers to weddings they are invited to as guests and possibly compromise the quality of the couples professional photos. I can't tell you how many wedding images we have taken where we are doing our job, we are there and anticipating the right moment to catch the perfect shot of the bride and her father walking down the aisle only to have uncle bob back in the 3rd pew with his flash head growing out of the brides father's head. Yes, we take multiple shots, and luckily there are 2 of us so we get 2 different angles and have several to choose from but perhaps it was that one shot ruined by uncle Bob's camera in the background which had the best expression on the brides face? Then at this same wedding, uncle Bob decides to jump up to the reception doorway to get his shot of the happy couples grand entrance so the pro photographer gets a wonderful shot of the beaming bride and groom and uncle Bob behind them!

    Yes it happens, yes we expect it and deal best we can with it and still give the clients a great collection of images and they tell us they are thrilled...but we see more and more images we have to toss out due to this growing trend. We have had clients ask us on occasion how we feel about a friend photographing with us, even had one ask if they can tag along with us during the day. Since we are already a 2 shooter team, another photographer is overkill..we tell them it would be best if their relative photographed the ceremony from their seat, not photograph during the formals as it does cause wandering eyes and adds time, but they are more than welcome to shoot away during the reception.

    I would advise you to bring minimal gear and be aware of whether you see the photographer in your viewfinder because that means you are surely in his. Your mention of waiting till the photographer is done with formals to shoot your own is good and respectful of the photographer. But, if you really want to get some amazing, fine art, professional looking wedding photos as you have mentioned, try to secure a wedding gig of your own (after you have the appropriate training and experience of course.)
  28. I often get tempted to carry my full wedding kit when attending a wedding as a guest. My advice is this. Bring along your 5D with 24-70 and the 85 f/1.8. that should pretty much cover you for your proposed candids and portraits. Leave the 20D and 70-200 in the car. I would also definitely chat with the main photog, preferably before the day, just to explain that you're not planning to invade his turf, you simply want to get some nice pictures of family and friends, etc. That way, you can get his permission beforehand and alse gauge his personality. He might be more than happy to do that, and perhaps may even want to buy some of your candids from you. Who knows?
    <p>Much as you say you don't want to be in the way, if I were a guest or a member of the bridal party, I would most likely get distracted by anyone with 2 camera bodies and a long white lens hanging off one of the bodies.
  29. So you don't want the pressure of being a wedding photographer? But you want to take 2 bodies, large lenses and even setup a tripod in the church! As well as getting in the paid photographer's way you will probably end up distracting guests as Mark Kathurima mentioned. Just take basic kit.
  30. I think Gina summed it up nicely.
  31. My first wedding shoot (well actually my only one so far) was for a friend of mine and someone asked me if I would mind them taking pics also. I was so nervous that I would screw something up that I told the woman where to stand (out of my way) and gave her a few pointers and let her have at it too. She never once got in my way. She sent the pics to my friend who in turn handed them over to me to "fix" but she actually got a few good shots in that I had missed and I was able to give my friend the pics all the shots she deserved to have for her wedding. My suggestion is to talk to the photog when you arrive. You never know he/she might actually be grateful for the assistance and you might learn something in the end. Most people are not going to be as bad as you think they might be when you get to know them.
  32. Hi Guy, I haven't had a chance to read the entire thread - it's pretty long; so sorry if what I said is just repeating. My husband and I go to lots of weddings (big family, friends at that age...) and are building our skills and portfolio to go into wedding photography down the track. We have very strict rules with ourselves, and as a result have developed good relationships with a number of photographers, who when they know you are coming from the right place can actually be really helpful.

    - We always ask the bride and groom to check with the pro if it is ok.

    - We always talk to the pro when we get there (& he isn't busy, and tell them we will not get in their way, and to please tell us to buzz off if we do). This usually makes them comfortable, and in the end they end up chatting of their own accord and being very helpful. We even got a seconding job from this once.

    - We NEVER shoot formals over the pro's shoulder. Having shot a few on our own we know how impossible it is to get everyone's eyes on the pro's camera with people over your shoulder. It is one of the most annoying things you could do. And there is no point - photos of a group of people looking at someone else's camera look silly. And even if you tell them to look at the pro
    I can guarantee that someone won't. This is up there with death and taxes. The first time we shot as guests we shot from way away on an angle thinking no-one would look our way. Guess what - they did. And I am paying for that with karma when I shoot my own weddings. These will never be portfolio shots anyway.

    - We NEVER go with the pro when they go off with the couple for couple portraits. To do so is just rude. Either you will be stealing their poses, or taking up time that belongs to them (which is always incredibly short, and can be stressful - trying to get good shots when your time has been made even shorter by everything running over time which it always does - esp when the family portraits took twice as long because of all the guests shooting).

    - As someone said above - play to your strengths. Get candid shots of stuff that is happening way away from where the pro is (& tell them that is what you will be doing). So much goes on that the Bride & Groom never get to see & these shots are often the most exciting to them. If the pro isn't around also shots of the B&G hugging their friends and family can be emotional and really capture a moment. In Australia (not sure about US) often the pro won't stay for the full reception, so I offer to take shots there - then you get free rein once the pro is gone; and the B&G really appreciate this because otherwise it wouldn't be covered. If they do cover the reception, there are usually plenty of places to be that the pro isn't. And as much as they will never end up in your portfolio, pro's usually love it if you offer to do table shots because they usually hate doing them or won't do them. I have got a couple of great shots at this time though, because often you take them when the B&G are at each table, and some great spontaneous moments of emotion can happen as they see close friends and family. If you are the only one shooting late in the reception, you may be the one to get the emotional bride with a parent or best friend shot (if shot well these don't have to be snap shots). You usually get great guest shots too because you know people. Dance / garter / flower toss shots can be cool sometimes too.

    - There are always loads of detail shots (table cards, rings as they hold hands at the table etc etc, and cute flower girl / page boy shots to be had where you won't be in the way. Usually I am able to get a couple of shots where I pose the B&G, but I only do this if the pro is having a break or is somewhere else, or is happy for me to do it. And I do it being aware that there are only so many posed shots the B&G are going to be up for - because time and energy are both in short supply at such an event. You can get some great candid B&G shots without getting in the way.

    - We always find minimal gear feels a lot more comfortable and less intrusive (just a 5D and a couple of small lenses. Never a tripod), and helps to get better candid shots as well. We do manage to shoot a few in the church, but only in a guest sort of capacity - we tend to sit next to the aisle, and just shoot a few - but making sure we don't jump into the aisle in front of the pro. I tend to look for cute little kids doing stuff which the pro won't get a chance to shoot. Or shots of important people (parents, grandparents) because again - the pro may not have time for them.

    These limitations do not rule out getting great shots. We have managed to get shots that I at least have been very happy with, as has the couple, and definitely the family (because the pro won't be so focused on shooting family and friends); and managed to do it without (as far as I am aware) annoying any pro's (at least after we learnt that first time). We try to remember it is not our day, and we are lucky to have the opportunity to get anything at all.

    Anyway Guy - I am sure you have a respectful approach, I just wanted to share what works for us. And if you do end up taking up this branch of photography, you will have earnt yourself some good karma and hopefully people won't be shooting over your shoulder.

    Best of luck, and post some shots afterwards : )

  33. PS: The other reason to not go with the pro when they are shooting the couple portraits is that they are trying to build some intimacy with the couple to get good shots. The more people watching, the harder that is to do, and the more the couple may freeze up.
  34. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    In answer to Gina`s question: yes I am (A Wedding Photographer)

    In answer to Guy`s question, no, it would not hassle me one iota if you arrived with a 20D and a 5D and two L lenses.

    If you got in my way I would politely ask you to get out of my road.

    If your actions or gesticulations were distracting to the Wedding Party, especially during the Ceremony or the Formal Wedding shots, I would politely ask you to stop.

    If I believed it was your intention to steal my creativity (poses, lighting etc, during the Formal Shots), I would politely ask you, to leave the Wedding Party and the Photography crew in Private.

    I would ask these things of you once, and then I most likely ask my assistant to get in your way holding an off camera remote flash pointed toward you. (Which I have done once or twice).

    (Here where I live), we are not that big on lengthy contracts with various clauses: but there is, written down in the agreement, somewhere, the `out` about not getting the shots if there are extenuating circumstances specifically mentioned is the inability to execute key professional duties - the Service and the Formals ? which our customers are big on.

    So, I am not really wishing to bring in the `contract` point of view: suffice to say however, that your conduct is your problem and it will affect the outcomes of the Wedding Day: if you were at a Wedding where I was working and your conduct was affecting the outcomes I was being (well) paid to achieve, I would take all necessary steps to fulfil my duties: but, and I expect that MOST REAL pros would be the same: that would only be a REaction to your ACTIONS, not the fact that you arrived with a truck load of gear.

    Also, whilst I would not be put off by you arriving with what might seem to some as truck load of Professional gear, it might indeed be off putting to some.

    You might like to read through this thread to get an insight on how you might affect another Wedding Photographer:

    Also you might note in that thread, I mentioned that at my Niece`s wedding I took my 5D and a 50mm lens and no flash.

    Frankly, I was where the Pro wasn`t, and got some great shots because of it.

    So what is it that you are attempting to do? And what is the best method of achieving that? These are the real questions, IMO.

    If your desire is to hone skills, and capture some great moments IN YOUR STYLE then take your 5D and a fast Prime lens (or maybe the 24 to 70) and go out and get those moments: at a Wedding there are plenty of them.

    If you aim is to get some Wedding `Portfolio` shots then you might get a few at this Wedding, but you will get many more as an Assistant on the job for a Real Customer.

  35. So there seem to be two schools of thought here. Some replies suggest that if I stay out of the photographers way (which I've said all along I'm going to do) then I should be fine. Others assume that I'll get in the photographers way never-the-less, even though I intend not to.

    Personally, I think that enthusiast photographers in general have a great respect for professionals and are probably MORE aware of their needs than Uncle Bob with his new DSLR toy - and so are more likely to stay out of their way, right?

    It's a big church but he's ONLY allowed to shoot from the gallery at the back, so maybe if I talk to the church administrator, I could set up prefocussed on a tripod (or a piece of furniture) and preframed for the couple from the waist up, facing the couple from the front of the church, even with the whole thing covered with a piece of fabric to disguise and silence it a bit. Obviously no flash. I can push the button on my radio trigger just as the ring is put on the finger etc. Then there's no chance of me getting in the way of the pro, and I'm certain to not duplicate any of his ceremony shots, or at least to get a different angle on them.

    "what if you and your tripod & cable release are set up at a spot they need at just the right time they need to be there? " - then I'll step aside and allow him to use my kit to lean on, but as mentioned above, I'm thinking of not setting up at the back of the church anymore, the only place he is allowed to work. I'm more into wandering through the crowd taking candids,

    I've said already that the responsibility of being a wedding photographer is too great for me, having people rely on my shots puts more pressure on producing and doesn't allow me to experiment. As such, Gina, what sort of experience and training would you recommend? Aren't you talking about the training needed for a professional wedding photographer - surely that's the last thing I want, and I'm not sure what good it would do me.

    I'm surprised to hear that people are distracted by someone with a white lens, but I can see where you're coming from, Mark, although I'd think they'd be more curious than distracted. Maybe I'm wrong. You're not assuming I have my camera raised to my eye while the photographer is shooting the formals are you? This would obviously confuse and distract the subjects.

    So from your helpful responses, I have to introduce myself to the pro photographer and tell him that I'm not there to invade his turf, just to get some "different" pictures that I can play with myself. If he needs my help, or needs to borrow anything, then just ask - not that he'd want or need to, being a pro, but the offer is there. (although I'm wise to him "putting me to work" just to keep me out of the way) - if he needs an assistant, I guess he'll bring one. As long as I keep out of his way, and always make sure I know where he is and what he's pointing at then I guess I should be okay.

    I could make a point of getting some shots of the bride and groom preparing in the morning... of the sun streaming through a window, beaming through, or sillhouetting the dress hanging in front of the window. The rings on the bible making the heart. The brides mother and bridesmaids preparing, the groom having a pint of dutch courage with the best man before the ceremony, the new baby (due one month before) with the great-grandmother (94). Incidentally, do the grooms parents get much attention from photographers? - maybe just a shot of the empty wallet!

    My intention is to pretty much stay away from the formals, maybe apart from a couple of shots of the bridal party itself once the pro has given way to other people with cameras. Obviously, he always has the priority - that's a no brainer.
  36. Thanks William, for giving me the benefit of your years of experience - it means a lot.

    I really didn't think it would bother a real pro if I arrive with two old bodies with one white lens. Maybe if I had a decent compact I would bring that instead, but I don't. I have to work with what equipment I've got, and mine is decent enough to do the job in most cases.

    The quote "I was where the Pro wasn`t, and got some great shots because of it" is exactly where I'm coming from.

    I think you're on precisely the same page as I am, William. My priority is to hone my own skills and capture some amazing moments in my own style. My priority isn't portfolio shots, but a handful of "portfolio quality" shots, as always, never go amiss.

    thanks again.
  37. Guy -

    Above all (it was mentioned way earlier) check with the official photographer. Introduce your self to him / her and explain what you are trying to do and that you're not there to steal their business.

    Secondly stay out of their (the official photographer's) way. I had a wedding recently where I started doing formals and politely told everyone else to wait until I was done to take their snaps. Only 1 person had to to be told twice and they spent the rest of the day annoyed at life and me. Oh well.

    During the wedding ceremony, I'm worried about what I'm doing, not about what others are doing with their camera. However, I have had church officials come up to me and say - I thought I told you no flash during the ceremony. They said this because some aunt / uncle / friend / etc.. in the audience fired a flash. The official, automatically and incorrectly assumed it was me.
    (I've managed to talk them down, and actually get them to agree that they should / need to announce the NO FLASH rule prior to the service beginning)

    So, bottom line is communicate, communicate and communicate. And stay out of the way!

  38. Recently, My Boss' youngest daughter was married - and I was invited to the wedding as both a guest AND a photographer. Another co-worker/friend of my boss was the 'prime' photographer and I served as backup. we both attended the rehearsal and wedding, worked to stay out of each other's way, and had a great time! The B&G ended up with over 1000 shots (the other guy did the formals) I did mostly candids and a few "in church" shots with my quiet 10D. As costs escalate for 'getting hitched' - I expect to see more of these types of wedding arrangements - next photography banner - "Will work for cake"

    Just my $0.02 worth.

    --Derek Isaacs
  39. David,
    Thanks for the tips but I think they've all be covered already...

    Check with the official photgrapher... - I'll do this on the day whe I meet him/her.

    Stay out of their way.... mentioned more than a few times.

    No flash in the church... No brainer, but wouldn't do this anyway. Mentioned already.

    thanks for reinforcing their importance, though.

    Maybe I should reiterate that I'm not a guest photographer - I'm just a gues with a camera (just like probably a dozen other guests apart from mine's probably a bit bigger), and I haven't been asked to photograph anything. I asked the b&g if they would mind if I took some photo's at their wedding and they agreed - they're not expecting anything of me and I have no responsibility to produce any photo's whatsoever. It's for my own benefit, but if I get some nice shots, of course, I'll make them available.

    I'll be attending as a guest, nothing more, but a guest with a camera (or two). The pro still has the full responsibility to produce the whole package - whatever that might be.

    I've asked a couple of times who is taking their photo's, but they appear to have no idea and have left that up to the hotel with which they have arranged the wedding package - which includes a photographer, apparently. This uncertainty is mainly what pre-empted my asking if I could take some photo's. I don't think they've seen any examples of the photographers work, or even know his name, or what company he works for. It's all a bit too fuzzy for my liking, and the last thing I want to do is interfere, but if I'm there and the pro doesn't or can't deliver, for whatever reason, then I guess it would be good to have something to show them.
  40. Guy, as long as
    <p>1. You run your intentions by the pro before hand and
    <p>2. You stay clear of the working pro's way,
    <p>I would imagine you should be ok. I again reiterate though that the 24-70 and 85 (whether 1.2 or 1.8) should be more than sufficient for what you want to achieve...
  41. Guy, after attending many weddings as a guest (zero as photographer) I have found a sort of "Zen of Wedding Photos", I think. I offer it to you without judgment on your plans, but I hope it helps clarify your thinking (and others').

    Pete's First Axiom of Guest Wedding Photos: It's not about me.

    Someone else's wedding is the wrong time and place for me to practice my hobby. I'm not going to bring my bass and jam with the band, after all. Not that I can't bring a camera, but it's not about me.

    Pete's Second Axiom of Guest Wedding Photos: The degree to which it is not about me is proportional to my closeness to the bride and groom.

    On one extreme, if I'm in the wedding party then my job is to focus on the bride and groom and I can't be lugging around a camera. Calibrate accordingly.

    Pete's Third Axiom of Guest Wedding Photos: The closer my relationship to the bride and groom, the closer my physical proximity to the bride and groom.

    If I'm physically near the couple for most of the wedding, then I am physically near the photographer as well. Therefore I am unlikely to be in physical position to provide anything of value to the bride and groom not already provided by the photographer. Refer to axiom 1.

    Pete's Fourth Axiom of Guest Wedding Photos: If I'm not close enough to the couple for Axioms 2 and 3 to be limitations on me taking pictures, then why do I want photos of these people in the first place?

    And thus we arrive at the Zen of Wedding Photos: If I am close enough to want to bring my camera, it isn't appropriate. If it is appropriate to bring my camera, I shouldn't want to.

    So the camera stays at home or in the hotel room always. Relax, have a few drinks, enjoy the food, dance and try to have a good time.

    As always, YMMV.
  42. Reading up on this, something caught my eye & I thought I'd comment on it. "If the pro is in your view finder, you are in his". Not always true. I missed a few great candids b/c the pro needed tobe right in my line of sight at the friends wedding I attended a while back. But I was braodside tohim as he shot formals (I was there b/c I had to be - waiting for my wife) I sighed, missed the shot, & let him do his job.

    I DO think it's up to serious amateur to be more aware of the pro, and thereby stay clear, rather than the other way around.
  43. I recently shot a wedding, it went great. The bride sent me a glowing email and
    included the following:
    "There were two pro photographers in attendance and they thought very highly of
    your photography."

    They truly were professionals because I never, not once, had any inkling they were

    One guy who looking back I presume was one of them, asked me about my D3
    during a quiet moment and we had about a two minute conversation before HE broke
    it off and said "I'll let you get back to work". At the end of the night he said "great
    job tonight" or something similar and that was it. Honestly I don't even remember if
    he had any camera at all with him.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I recently shot a wedding where there was
    someone who obviously thought she was the wedding photographer. While we were
    setting up formals she'd chime in and say "I want one with you two over here!" or
    something similar. Twice when we needed the B&G she had them off posing for
    her. I was taking picture of the first dance and I backed up a step to get a wide
    angle shot and bumped into her HARD because she was standing right behind me
    shooting over my shoulder. I'm glad neither of us were hurt, but we easily could
    have been.

    So, you choose. Which one do you want to be?
  44. Don't even think of it unless you get the other photographer's permission well ahead of time. And don't be pushy. In theory if you simply showed up and started taking pictures, seeing as you are related to the bride he could view it as a violation of contract and sue!

    Why are photographers so picky? I'll give you an example. At one wedding I was doing last year the mother of the bride, without telling me, invited the society page photographer from the local paper to photograph the ceremony. Before I had even been introduced she took over the bride's prep and the bride's mother wouldn't let me in. When she got out I tried to coordinate things with her. "Don't worry, I'll keep out of your way."

    As the bride was coming down the isle I did my usual crouch, shoot, back-up, crouch, shoot, backup OOOPS! The newspaper photographer was kneeling right behind me and I went flying. My biggest nightmare. If the mother of the bride hadn't invited her they could easily have refused to pay me, or worse.

    And this was a pro who supposedly knew what she was doing.
  45. Edward,
    Since when have guests at weddings had to get permission from the contracted photographer to bring along a camera? Just because mine's an SLR I don't see the difference - it seems all I'd be doing would be giving the other guy a chance to tell me not to take photo's. Even though I'd be making a concerted effort not to disturb him whatsoever.

    If I then see auntie Mabel getting any half decent photo's with her point and shoot, should she also have got permission from the photographer first? Simply ridiculous. What if I bring a point and shoot instead? Would I suddenly start taking my pictures from a different location, just because I have a less conspicuous camera? Makes no difference - since when has the type of equipment made the photographer?

    Your example is completely different - both photographers had been invited or hired specifically with the objective of taking photographs at the wedding, hence both were under pressure to get the best images they could. I'm under no pressure, and have no intention of getting myself into any awkward positions, let alone trying to call attention to myself by obnoxiously pretending to be pro.

    There are a lot of stories of other photographers who try to "take over", or order the guests around. I think I've said often enough that I have no intention of doing that.

    I'm afraid that photographers who don't look where they're going deserve all they get, although since when has the photographer falling over constituted breach of contract? Would it have been any different if you'd backed into a guest standing behind you without a camera? Or a tree? Might I suggest you add the step "glance over shoulder" to your usual routine?

    Exactly why I'd be standing or crouching right behind you if I'm off shooting candids, I'm not so sure.

    It seems as if several photographers are convinced that any and all guests with cameras will get in their way, and that guests without cameras will not, or that guests who want to replicate the pro's shots by shooting with a P&S while right beside (or behind) them will cause them no trouble, while those who want different shots, who are aware of the pro's location and activities, and who are purposely shooting from a location which will allow the pro to get on with his job uninterrupted, will cause no end of problems?

    Can anyone tell me that dealing with these situations is not something that should be expected of a wedding photographer? I'll let him do his job for sure, but isn't dealing with these situations part of his job? Hands up all pro wedding photographers who would not include "dealing with the public" as part of their job.

    I'm not convinced that in many cases complaining about the risk of guests with cameras getting in their way isn't just an excuse for minimising the risk of a bruised ego.

    As far as Regas reply is concerned, I think it should be obvious that I want to be the first one.

    thanks guys,
  46. I took my cameras to my sisters wedding, The po was amazed that I took a yashicamat and we also had the same eos 5/28-105 rig (this was before I bought my 400d) :) helped him set shots up and he helped me get some shots with his reflector.

  47. Guy

    There is a big huge difference between guests snapping and an aspiring photographer trying to do something special and as professional as they can achieve.

    You may not realize it - but some photographers actually do have a clause in the contract that states they are the "exclusive" photographer.


    One - They don't want anyone cutting into their reprint orders

    Two - They are the hired photographer and responsible for getting many "must have" shots and another photographer trying for those same shots will comprimise the hired pro's work.

    Three - (somehting I've seen myself and more than once) -- the guests says..."Oh YOU are the photographer? I thought it was that girl that was running all over the church...she stepped on my husband's foot and didn't even stop to say she was sorry and then I saw her later having a drink at the bar and dancing on the dance floor... Later she pushed Aunt Sally out of the way during the cake cutting. I said to my husband - let's make sure we get the name of this photographer - we don't want to hire her for our daughter's wedding...."

    Four - During formals, the guests get confused and look in all different directions when the photographer is shooting because there are 4 other cameras aimed at them.

    Five - Many photographers have worked very hard on signature poses and know how to work the group and get them to have fun... The shots are wonderful - for formals where most shots guests pulled together would be very stale and stiff. This relates back to number one. I arrange a super formal group shot... This is my expertise. An amateur shoots it and gives it to the couple. the couple doesn't order it from me.

    Having said that.

    I would talk to the aspiring pro or artist shooter and carefully explain my needs... I even help them. Threatened? No. Bruised ego? Absolutely not. Paid to do a job? Yes. Do they know what being out of the way really means? Not usually.

    I've been a guest myself at a relatives wedding. I asked permission from the photographer. I asked him to give me his rules. I abided by them. He didn't want me to shoot his group shots. Wanted me to be completely out of the way during the ceremony so he could move around without getting me in his shot in the church isles etc.. Wanted the couple to himself during the couple session. Thought it was fine - if the couple still wanted to do more shots AFTER all his family and couple shots were done - if I wanted to take them off to do something with them. I was so good that he actually came over to me during the cake shot and showed me where I could stand to get my shot.
    I gave him 100% respect. I hope you do as well.

    Please don't be so defensive. We've all had horror stories and we are just telling you how not to get the photographer's nose out of joint -- you did ask ;-)
  48. You will be a royal pain in the butt with so much gear. Why not get yourself a
    rangefinder with a fast prime, some good fast black and white film, and take the shots
    that the pro wont be able or is not inclined to get.

    If you carry that much gear, you will be an eyesore and won't be able to enjoy yourself.
    You were invited as a guest, so please act like a guest.
  49. Guy, a great thing you may also consider if you really want to get some gorgeous, artistic and portfolio worthy shots is consider to offer to give the bride and groom a 'day after' session. You will have complete control and all the time to do whatever artsy shots you'd like. Just a thought.

    And yes, as mentioned in my previous post, we do expect guests with cameras, with point and shoot & SLRs and we deal with it politely and actually, rarely say anything unless they are obnoxiously in the way. The complaints that have come up in this thread and the forum have nothing to do with 'ego' as you have suggested but rather in line as what Mary posted. I had a groom the other day come pick up his package, he talked about how he noticed his cousin walking behind the officiant & gazebo during the ceremony and hanging out on the side of the bridesmaids taking photos. He said, 'all I kept thinking of during the ceremony was, I hope he's not going to be in our wedding photos'. And this was coming from the groom, their own guest with a camera was distracting him at his wedding.

    I think you will do fine at this wedding because if you did not care, you would not have posted in the first place but I think it's important that both the positive and realistic, even if negative, aspects have been brought up at what can happen for others who read this. husbands cousin and best friend wanted us to photograph their wedding but of course since he will be in the wedding, that can't happen. We will help them find a good photographer and don't plan on bringing our cameras at all. Never have before I was a wedding photographer and never will. It's hard not to want to take beautiful photos for them, but I trust they will have what they need from the pro and I'd rather watch and enjoy the celebration without looking through a viewfinder for all of it.
  50. I just shot a wedding where the couple had put disposable cameras on the tables. The wedding was in a resteraunt. Not only that but everyone had a camera. Throughout the entire wedding including the service there was constant flashes. People wouldn't even sit in their seats up playing professional. It got to where I was ducking to avoid getting in the way. What was the most irritating is at one points guest got mad at us and asked US to get out of the way so that they could take a shot. I told her that they were paying us and she said well were here too. It just frustrates me to no end when I can't get a shot because of guests. Especially since my packages include a CD, allowing everyone to use my pics. If you want to assist at this wedding I would say that its important not to upstage the pro. Bringing two bodies and and an extreme lens kit your going to run the risk of looking like the pro. If you want to take pics bring a simple camera and lens, don't use flash, don't shoot the formals, and don't shoot the ceremony. That area is all pro, the rest is free game. Just remember that this is some guys job and if you upstage him you might cost him future work in referals.
  51. I am not no where close to being a pro, and I was asked by my brother and new sisiter-in-law to bring my camera's and lenses to their wedding and take photos, and they also had a pro. wedding photographer,I was glad to even though I would recieve no money and would never charge for the shots either. They poised for the pro and when got his shots they all stood still for an extra minute and let me take my shots, plus I got to take candid photos of the guests and private moments with the B&G that we all think the pro would not have gotten, because all the people involved knew me and were relaxed, and allowed me to get "closer". Now I am not saying my shots were better than the pros, but I did take some great shots and some of the wedding party and guests and some of the behind-the-sences and of the B&G turned out much better in my opioion, and the pro, didn't mind a bit in fact I got some great pointers from him, learned quite a bit and decided I never want to be a wedding photgrapher either only as a favor to someone very near and dear.
  52. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    This has been a really interesting read for me: the exposing of various thoughts and proclivities.

    Thank you for your kind response, Guy.

    I would like to add a couple of personal thoughts / experiences which were stimulated by previous comments.

    1. The `white lens` is actually an issue: it might be an issue to the Pro Photographer, it might not be: but it will be obvious to some, if not many, of the Guests, and it should be your responsibility to inform them, by action or voice that you are not the `paid one`.

    I have this particular `issue` quite often: I have diverse sporting interests, and some at very high level competition.

    I too, like Guy, have white lenses, and access to a 300 and 400 F2.8L, so as an `amateur` when I romp up with the same gear as the contracted fellow, I am aware he might smell a rat: it is irrelevant that I do not have a 1 series camera: it is the white lens, and the size (even the 70 to 200) which is noticed by the masses.

    Now I have two advantages in my situation: one is I know some of some of these Sports Shooting guys, and the second is I am constantly there, at mostly all major meets nation wide, and, even if I am not known, I have behaved myself and not attempted to move into the press area, etc: also I buy some of their photos, and I give them a wave, take a photo of them and post it off to them as a gift, and go about my business taking the shots I want of a few, select athletes: so for me that repetition has given me a great working relationship: I am respected and known: therefore, I am not a threat.

    However this is a one off for Guy, that and the initial actions and words (if any) will indeed set the scene. The fact that a 70 to 200 white lens is arriving is one of those actions: and that must be considered, IMO.

    2. The withholding of your images (from the Bride and Groom) until arrangements have been finalized by the hired Professional resonates with me: if indeed the reason for going to this amount of effort is for a deeper understanding and improvement of your own skills, then that should be no problem. Nadine mentioned that such is polite: I add, it is also professional, and in such circumstances it is also professional behaviour, IMO that if any images you take are to be given to the B & G then they are to be given: NOT chosen by them.

    There is a subtle differentiation: pedantic, but IMO, important. Again, taking a personal tack, I refer to my Niece`s Wedding, I mentioned earlier. I gave an autographed book of about (20) 6 x 4 finished prints to my Sister-in-law as a gift and a memento of her daughter`s Wedding. I had not seen the Pros work, and I gave it after about 4 weeks after the Wedding and that was two weeks after the family had chosen and received all the Products for which they had paid.

    That action was not taking the moral high ground, it is just, what I believe to be correct behaviour, and in the long run also benefits me, as I am allowed to go about my business (of enjoying photography) unhindered.

    Similarly I NEVER give (or sell) any of the sporting photos I take (in an amateur capacity).

    When I have been asked for them: I refer the `askers` to the paid professionals and suggest they do the job. At the end of the season I have, on occasion, made up a disc of assorted moments and given them as a gift to some athletes, but this is haphazard: I do not wish to make any rules or create any future expectations.

    3. Mary Ball`s point 5 (Signature Poses) struck a big note with me, I think you would be well advised to note that you actions prior to the Formals (if any) will be implicit to the Professional as to how he/she expects you to behave.

    4. I really like Peter`s Zen view of the Wedding Guest, but IMO I have a camera as an extension of me, and I am partly naked without it: a Wedding it is not about me, correct, but as I mentioned previously, there are many aspects of life to be captured, at a Wedding, that I can do without raising attention or diverting focus to me.

    5. In summary, I think the first five minutes, or so, will set the tone: it will be important that in those first minutes (or if you decide to liaise prior to the event) you clearly indicate your intentions by the deed / word / demeanour / body language: as mentioned by Neil Ambrose the fact that you have asked the question (and followed up so vigorously) indicates that you are thinking deeply about the whole thing and how to play it out.

    On a side issue, sitting here away away from the geographical mainstay of Photonet the `violation of contracts` and `should not take a camera to a Wedding` thoughts are not only interesting to read, but somewhat alien.

    Guy, I am most interested to know the outcomes and see the results of this venture.



  53. I have done several weddings as a guest photographer. Not having to do the album shots makes this fun. I use a Nikon D200 with an Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8. I set the auto ISO to allow it to go up to ISO 1600 and took shots without flash from distances of mostly unaware subjects. Most did know that I was doing a photojournalist style shoot of the party. A bit of Noise Ninja later and the stealthy available-light portraits I shot and printed on a nine ink HP 8750 were the ones that the families put up on the walls. It was fun and I was glad that I outfitted for a completely different shoot than the professional photographer was making. By complementing the pro instead of competing her I got about hundred shots that people absolutely loved. The pro made a lovely posed-and-flashed album that people loved too.
  54. mwr


    I've shot (as a guest) at many weddings over the years and my rule is (1) never to interfere with the professional photographer and (2) there are not other rules. I don't drape myself with equipment (I'm a guest not a photographer) and if my shots sometimes are better than the pro's, well, that's the way it is. Many guests take photos at weddings, and all a professional photographer can or should expect is that they don't interfere with him/her.
  55. Haven't read entire discussion but in my experience the "Advanced Amateur" is the least of the Pro's worries..It seems Aunt Rose and Uncle Willie with their P&S cameras and flash do more to disrupt the paid help's job than a polite and briefed "AA". Then there are the teens wanting to get every shot the Pro is attempting to record..Still some Pros are more comfortable working alone...Whatever the Pro wants is what you need to respect, even if it means stowing most if not all of your gear.. Seen too many weddings turn into a near paparazzi mob.
  56. Guy,

    If the wedding party says ok, I say go for it and if you want bring all your equipment, great, just don't look like a dork or worse piss off your date.

    I don't shoot too many weddings, thank God, but my attitude is I'm a pro, I get paid to deal with the situation and to get the shot.

    Imagine what would happen to me if at an political fundraiser, I told a supporter, "Hey don't take picture while I'm taking pictures." Even better, what if I told some mom not to take pictures of her son at bat because it'll ruin my shot.

    If you're not making any money shooting, it's probably not because of Uncle Bob taking pictures with the fancy camera he bought at Cosco.

    If they're not buying your pictures, you should probably look at what you're doing not what others are doing.

    Remember, we are the hired help. We are the same as the caterer, the bartender, and the DJ. We are there to do our jobs discretely, professionally and not get in the way of the occasion.

    Guy is a guest. He was invited to the wedding. That's a big difference. He's family and he's get a lot more latitude to do whatever he wants.

    If you start pushing a guest around, who's in your way, or start telling them to get out of the shot, or just generally acting like a fool, you're not going to be in business very long.
  57. Since you've been given nearly every incarnation of advice at this point, I will only serve as a reinforcement for one version.

    Travel super-light. bring the 5d and rent a 50 f/1.2. (yes, its not a "light" lens) throw an extra battery in your pocket, and do your thing. Be where he/she is not. Man, forget posed formals. Pre-planned emotion is not "artsy." If you really want to get what you're looking for, blend in with guests, take nice shots of guests conversing with the bride, groom, etc. Capture some real emotion, some unusual perspective, and think in black and white. I'm pretty sure that you will have so much more fun this way. the 50mm will require you to actually be a guest , talk, have a good time, etc, then get a shot of everyone laughing at your awesome one-liner about the priest and the rabbi who walk into a bar. using a 200mm suggests that you're going to be this random loner guest out on the grassy knoll, taking paparazzi shots. And yes, a huge white lens is a distraction all by itself. Why does Canon have to cry out for attention like that? =) Man, I cant wait to do this myself, now that I made it sound so fun! All my friends just want to hire me.
  58. Dave,
    I like your way of thinking. a straight 50 it is.

  59. This has been an interesting discussion. I would like to focus on the signature poses and/or the "formals".

    I have photographed weddings as the photographer and also attended several as a guest where I have brought "some" equipment - meaning a single body and a 35-70 lens. I have not taken shots of the formals as a guest as it does interfere with the photographer without exception in my experience.

    However I want to bring you back to your original message- you stated ...the potential for a few portfolio shots, and maybe a good venue for networking etc.

    In this case this is absolutely not representative of your work, the poses, the lighting, the mood, everything are all the creation of the paid photographer. The best claim to this work you could make is you were there at a moment to push a button - literally.

    Setting aside any copyright issues and a possible law suit from a photographer for claiming rights to his creations, I think that passing that work off as your own in a portfoliio or in any other manner would lack ethics and would not be a representation of your work, but that of someone elses.

    when I am the photographer at the wedding I ask guests to not shoot the formals while I am shooting. Many times I will take them away to pre-selected scenes. Very few people follow. this is not always possible and sometime you have those paparazzi moments. In those cases I simply ask that people not to shoot and allow me to get the shots I need, then I will allow people to take similar shots afterward. Before I "release the scene" so to speak, i tell the posed group to relax- they are still grouped but not posed. This assures they are not stealing my work and the photos will look different. I also cut that off after about 15-20 seconds. My main focus is to keep this moving, get the job done, and get the B&G back to the wedding and their guests (which are wiaintg). One of my pet peaves as a guest is to have a photographer that keeps an entire guest list waiting on the B&G for 2 hours (and I have seen longer).
  60. I hope you were talking generally here, Stephen, and not talking about my specific circumstances. I'm sure I've said it often enough in this thread that I'm NOT looking to replicate the pros work.

    As I said earlier, I'm shooting images in my own style, and am mainly going to be where the pro IS NOT. (Maybe whith the exception of when he's taking MY picture - at which point I'll likely get someone else to hold my camera)

    You do raise an interesting point, though, about shooting when someone else has assisted in or done) the creative work. things like advertsing shots, who have TEAMS of creative assistants, and don't tell me EVERYTHING is controlled 100% by the photographer. I still think the guy who pushes the button is entitled to use the images in his portfolio though.

    I was at a photo workshop a year or so ago, where there were ten photographers, a couple of models and a lecturer to demonstrate and set up lights etc. No-one can say those pictures aren't my own - even though they weren't up to much.

    I agree that there must be a lot of work goes into arranging guests for formals, but from memory, the photographers instructions to the guests at the last wedding I attended were simply something like "stand there, okay 3..2..1 great, thanks, next...". Not quite a creative tour-de-force..

    That said, I might still take a picture of a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and never consider crediting the flower arranger - and that might have taken them a lot longer than 321-next. I'd never insinuate that I'd arranged them myself, and even if I WERE intrested in shooting formals at a wedding, and didn't care about disrupting the pro's work, I'd still not claim the poses were my own. For that matter, just how creatively do you pose those neices stepdads ex-wifes brother and his family?

    I posted a thread on here a year or two ago asking if a particular "pose" could be copyrighted. The overwhelming answer was "No" - in fact I think it was unanimous. I could copy the precise pose and lighting technique from any image I saw if I liked - I could even hire the same model, makeup artist and clothes to make it almost indistinguishable from the original. There is no (or at least very lmiited) originality any more. I think if you're shooting in a public place, then anyone can legally (although maybe not ethically) take a photograph of you or your subject. Of course, it's your perogative to make it as hard for them as possible.

    Someone tells me to put my hand on my head and then another guy passing by photographs me. Should the guy who told me to put my hand on my head get a slice of the action? mmmm...
  61. Guy

    Interesting about the photo workshop you went to...

    I went to a photo workshop in Cape May and Joe Buissink was the instructor that set up the shots... and we had to agree not to use any of the photos we took in our portfolios. In fact the entire workshop with instructors like Monty etc... all had the same policy.

    In your case, perhaps a "hotel" photographer is not going to care but the more upscale photographers would. However, a moot point since you already stated you would not be copying poses.

    Enjoy yourself - and I'm sure you will take some great photos and hopefully have a little chat with the hotel photographer early on.

    Please share your work with us after the wedding...
  62. The photog at my sisters' wedding was an absolute jerk. Acted like he was directing a movie and financing it out of his own pocket.

    Good shots, though - as it was his job to do so.

    But he HATED seeing anyone else with a camera in-hand.

    Wife and i learned a couple things about this and try not to recreate that atmosphere when we shoot.

    In my opinion, if there's time, ask the photog first. Get a feel for his/her attitude and definitely get shots of things he/she isn't focusing on.

    After that, blend in. But keep your eyes open!

    Couple of years ago, one of my friends (almost like a brother), invited my wife and i to his wedding (on one of those floating flotillas that has multiple decks - ceremony on top, food on bottom, dancing/reception in the middle).

    We took our BASIC equipment and wound up getting a great shot of the B&G as he dipped her during their first dance - then they kissed.
    Meanwhile the photog was on the other side of the room trying to get in the doorway...and missed the shot completely. Turns out, they loved the shot we got.

    Who knows what you might capture?
  63. I suggest you quickly buy one or two very small used autofocus film cameras, such as a Leica Minilux, Contax T2/T3, Yashica T4, Nikon 28Ti or 35Ti or a similar high-end p&s camera with extremely good optics. If the cameras you find are also fitted with leather half-cases with strap lugs (most of these models don't have lugs on the bodies themselves), sling one over each shoulder, then put your suit jacket on over that.

    While standing around being the guest, no one will really notice that you have two professional cameras on you, especially the pro, who will be more likely to take a few snaps of you during the day.

    Iso 400, 800 or 1600 negative film for the indoor shoots and a good high quality iso 200 negative film for the outdoor shots should work out fine.

    Remember, you're not being paid for this and the bride and groom might appreciate your participation more if they think you're having a good time instead of "working."

    Leave the 5D at home. It's way too bulky for the guest role you should also be playing.
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    Best Regards

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