Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A PSA from a Wedding Photographer

A Friendly Public Service Announcement for Fancy Camera Yielding Wedding Guests:

Since starting my journey into photography I have shot a number of weddings, I have also attended or was in my fair since beginning to shoot as well. Since DSLR's (fancy cameras) have become all the rage among amateurs and pro's alike, it's only reasonable that etiquette may need to be explained to those interested in and excited about photography. 

This post is made in good jest and hopefully you can read it with a sense of humor! If you are guilty of any of these, that's OK, in fact you should tell me about it in the comments! We are all human and we all make mistakes, its even better when we can look back on them and laugh at our silliness. (Like the time I told a pregnant woman she looked far farther along than she was, DOH! See, I started us off!)

1. Thou shalt not have more/equal equipment to the main photographer

When attending a wedding I rarely, if ever, will take along my DSLR. Now, there is no issue with you bringing yours, but it is important to realize that the bride and groom have shelled out a pretty penny for someone to come and make them smile and pose and do all sorts of awkward things, they don't need Aunt Berta asking them to do the same. If you do bring your fancy camera, leave the extra lenses and external flash at home. How many pictures of someone else's wedding will you be hanging on your walls anyways?

At one wedding I had to actually ask someone to put away their equipment in fear of them trying to do the same as me during some vital shots. It's always an awkward conversation. Nobody likes awkward, so leave your extras at home!

2. Thou shalt not plagiarize the photographer. 

Wait, plagiarism, isn't that when people copy and paste cliff notes instead of actually writing their term paper? Well, yes, but it is very possible to plagiarize a photographers work. I never thought of this one until I was working on my wedding contract and reading through various others I found on the internet. Many, including mine, ask that family and friends refrain from taking pictures while the photographer is doing the posed shots (think family, couple, bridal party). And then I began shooting more weddings and this became all the more real to me. 

Example 1: At one wedding as I was focused on posing my bride and groom along with some family members, I began to walk backward down the aisle to get a better view. In the process I ran over the man behind me with his fancy DSLR and external flash who was quite literally shooting over my shoulder. This is plagiarism. I did all the work to pose and set up the shot, he now gets to claim the picture he took as his work and doing. 

Example 2: I was once in a wedding where the photographer had to ask a guest with a fancy camera to stop taking pictures while she took bridal party pictures. The guest was not pleased and threw quite the death stare the photographers way. Don't be them, if the photographer asks you to stop be polite and move on. 

Now, there is a caveat to this. If Grandma Jane is snapping away with her point and shoot, or maybe even a DSLR, I will rarely ask them to stop. It doesn't bother me if family is just taking some candid shots while I do the main deal, but as soon as you turn on your flash or get in my way during the posed shots, I will probably say something. Which brings us to number 3

3. Thou shalt not use flash

Please please please don't use flash at a wedding unless you absolutely have to. I know everyone does it. Try not to, at least while you see the photographer actively shooting. The flash from someone else's camera can completely ruin a shot for a photographer. If you need to use it, just be aware of whether or not the photographer is in the middle of shooting and try to take it in between their shots. 

4. Thou shalt not try to direct the photographer

Unless you are the bride, groom, wedding planner, DJ, or venue professional you should probably avoid telling the photographer what to do. Most of us have done this before and should have done our research on how to best manage our shots. Trust us, we have a plan. If we ask you a question, answer us then, otherwise just sit back, relax and enjoy the wedding!

5. Thou shalt have fun

I am not sure if you realize this but most weddings I shoot are 9-12 hour work days with much standing, bending, laying on the ground, kneeling, sweating, and all together running around. A photographer's job is not easy, it is entirely fun, but not easy. If you are a wedding guest you have the distinct pleasure of sitting back and enjoying a beautiful day, and you get to eat cake!  (I do too, but you get to enjoy yours) Enjoy the wedding, be present. Take candid pictures, take pictures with your friends (seriously, I love taking pictures of people taking pictures), dance, have fun. You have the easy job, bask in the glory that is being able to actually be present and focused on making memories! 

Those are my five commandments, now go with your knew knowledge and use those fancy cameras wisely! If you have a fancy camera you should be using it, but don't forget to enjoy what's around you first before you focus on the perfect shot. 

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