There is nothing quite so stress-free as photographing a wedding. No pressure, no deadlines, and all the time in the world to get it right.
If only the above were true.
Now, in the real world, there is nothing outside of Combat Camera that is more high pressure than a wedding. You are surrounded by people wound tighter than coil springs and you only have one shot to get everything perfect, or at least a reasonable facsimile of perfect. The last thing you need when dealing with an excited bride, nervous groom, high-strung bride's mother, or any other wedding stereotype, are these people who seem to be at every wedding or event.
Poor Samantha never got over not being in the wedding party. It could be because the bride has a lot of sisters, or her mother insisted that cousin Ethel be in there. In all likelihood though, it's probably because Sam has a real talent for trying to make every situation all about her.
The problem: Sam will want to get her iPhone shots in on every pose you set up with the wedding party, throwing everything into confusion.
The Solution: Nip this one in the bud. Explain firmly to her that you are shooting photos for the bride and groom, and there will be time for others to take photos afterwards. Once you let one person in, they all want in, and you've lost control. Be firm. If you've ever seen a wedding photo where the wedding party are not all looking in the same direction, it's probably because there's more than one photographer vying for attention.
Make no bones about it, Uncle Nikon is pissed. Not just because of the rye and cokes, but because even though he dropped a thousand and one hints, he wasn't asked to shoot the wedding, even though he's a pro. Yes, Uncle Nikon is a pro at buying photography gear. He has the best cameras, the best lenses, and tons of accessories, all stored in a gargantuan photo vest with seventeen pockets that he wears all the time so that everyone knows that he is a photographer. Camera stores love him. He has the extended warranty on everything, including his lens caps. And of course he shoots everything with his settings on full auto because if you spend five grand on a camera it goddamn well better do the thinking.
The Problem: Uncle Nikon is hell bent on showing everyone that they were wrong not to let him shoot the event. While he lacks the talent to show you up professionally, he will become a general nuisance. Like Instagram Sam, he will try to steal your poses, but he will also try to pull people aside and set up his own, and those gigantic flashes of his will be overexposing your carefully lit portraits as he lines up beside you to shoot. He will also talk to you incessantly and point out every bit of equipment he has that has better specs than yours.
The Solution: If you were smart you arranged to have a trusted friend or family member of the bride act as a liaison between you and the family. This person needs to be forceful enough to herd all the right people over to you when it's their time to pose with the bride and the groom. They should also be confident enough to shove another rye into Uncle Nikon's hand and tell him to bugger off. If all else fails, appeal to Uncle Nikon's ego. Tell him how glad you are to have another professional around to help out. Shove a reflector into his hand with a "I'm sure you know what to do" and work around the result.
Everybody with a F***ing iPad!
It was the moment the whole occasion was building up to. The vows had been taken, the rings exchanged, and all eyes were transfixed as you shot the screen of Bob and Mildred Nobody's iPad as they stuck it up in the air to get a low resolution shot of the first kiss. Normal church protocol frowns upon you cursing up a storm as you grab the iPad from their hands and send it flying up into the baptismal font. Even whispering vague threats into their ears while maintaining a fake smile is considered poor form in these days of political correctness. Besides, you'd be overwhelmed in no time. These people are everywhere now.
The Problem: Everyone wants to stick their electronic devices in the air to capture the big moment. They not only get in the way, but they can mess up your readings. Also, they show up like flashlights.
The Solution: If you can arrange a "No Photography" rule ahead of time, that's the best solution, because it gives you the greatest freedom of movement. Keep in mind that there may be an unexpected intrusion on your shot from someone who doesn't know, or care about the rule. Barring that, you just have to plan out your shots expecting these sort of obstructions and shoot around them. If that means getting in Bob and Mildred's way, so be it. Remember who you are there for.
Oh, and if you are using an iPad for a camera, you look like a dork. Just a public service message from me.
Being polite and well mannered is essential whenever you are in a social situation, and is always good business. However, don't let it get in the way of getting the job done for your client. They will brush off Uncle Nikon's bruised ego, Sam's hurt feelings, and Bob Nobody's missed shot long before they forget that you missed their first kiss.
Instagram Sam** - World of Payne https://www.flickr.com/photos/noproblemnigel/
Uncle Nikon* - Kris Krug https://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/
Woman with iPad* - Wesley Fryer https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/
*Used under Creative Commons share alike license.
**Used under Creative Commons Attribition-Non-commercial-No Derivatives 2.0
Text ©Troy More - all rights reserved