An Important Short Lesson For All Wedding Photographers

An Important Short Lesson For All Wedding Photographers

Update: The featured video has been changed per request of the photographer that was featured in it. In summary the video showed the back of a photographer standing up in the middle of the aisle next to the front two rows shooting with a 70-200mm lens aiming at the bridal party. I saw this video (video replaced with dancing dog) posted up in a Facebook group I belong to by the amazing team of videographers over at Motivity Films. The video was shared as a reminder to all wedding photographers that just as much as we complain about videographers being in our shots, we as photographers need to be aware of our surroundings as well as those working the wedding with us so that everyone can produce a quality product for our clients. The 2-minute video is really quite funny.

Now I am not sharing this video so that we can light up our torches and raise the pitchforks to go after the photographer. I don't even have a clue who it is. Also I understand that later the photographer realized what they had done and apologized to the videographers for her mistake. The reason I felt it was important to share the video, besides getting a good laugh, is because there are some great lessons in this video that all wedding photographers should be aware of.

  1. Communicate with the videographers before the ceremony starts and get an idea of what kind of cameras and lenses they will have set up and running so that you don't accidentally stand in front of one. There are times when you will be crossing, which is not a big deal, but it is always best to be aware of what they have set up so you can best position yourself.
  2. If you see a camera filming down the aisle, try to shoot either alongside it or duck down in front of it. Often, these cameras are zoomed in closer on the couple so you should be able to stay low and be out of sight.
  3. During a wedding ceremony, be aware of how your body could be impeding the guests from enjoying the wedding. You might not be entirely blocking their view, but when you are standing up in front, you become a sight distraction and rather than watch the couple you suddenly become the entertainment.
  4. Use your telephoto lens to shoot further back. Zooming in at 200mm gives you beautiful compression and bokeh, so take advantage of it.
  5. If you absolutely do need to get a shot up front, make yourself as small as possible. Also strip down your camera and pop on a prime lens that is not quite as distracting. An 85mm, 50mm or 35mm might be good choices.
  6. Lastly, always keep an eye on the couple and an ear listening to what is going on. Photos of the couple laughing or the groom shedding a tear are priceless and you don't want to miss those.

The photographer in this video is probably extremely talented, has shot many weddings before and nailed some amazing photos from her angle there. But I hope that even if she stumbles upon this post and recognizes herself in the video, she is able to grab some takeaways from this article so during future weddings both her, the guests and others working at the wedding are all able to have a clean line of sight to the couple, which after all is what we are all there to witness.

Finally, be sure to check out some of the incredible wedding videos done by the team at Motivity Films by visiting their website. Nick and Ben are extremely talented and always put together fantastic wedding films. In fact, here is the highlight reel they prepared for this same wedding. Good stuff!

Log in or register to post comments

115 Comments

rafael maduro's picture

I will just stop the wedding and talk to her right there since is im also getting paid by the couple and they will apreciated. Not in a rude manner or anything but better than give lame ass excuses to the couple afterwards and the photograoher can keep doing her jib but bedn a little more friendky as where she is standing

I'd ask her, too, but I wouldn't be surprised if she's one of those that would move and come back in a minute, because she's got "the angle".

She's not. She is actually really easy to work with.

This is one of the first things that I learned when I started wedding photography. It is so, so important to co-work with the videographers and bond a little with them, specially if you live in a small town, you never know when you will be working with them again, and who knows, perhaps you'll make a new friend.

Being "talented" doesn't mean being totally oblivious. In this case, she was not only oblivious, but obnoxious. Common sense is in deep need here. Only the thumbnail was enough for me. I couldn't bear with the 2 minute video. Rather painful.

my 2 cents, just because you have a nice big DSLR and watched a few tutorials dont presume you are wedding photographer and set yourself up in business. It takes training and a lots of experience. I have never been stopped at a event, nor ruined the event for guests. If there is another person working, you become part of a team. Also you dont have a rider, dont expect food, or facilities you take your own. Oh and dress smartly, and be clean and smell nice. You should be invisible, your best compliment would be to hear from a client that they never knew you where there. 75% of my job is being in the right place at the right time, negotiating and being part of the team that is servicing the client and guests.

I am fed up with lifestyle photographers with expensive cameras, following a formula and charging extortionate rates, when they have been in the photographic industry for two minutes. I served a apprenticeship to become a professional.

At a wedding you have to be professional in the way you float around the venue. have the right kit ready, have the right kit working, and know how to shoot the same thing a myriad of ways.

Summary, its not your wedding, work as a team with the front of house staff and other service providers.

There is more than one path to a professional career, but not matter path you choose to get there- none of it matters if you do not have the eye for it. You cannot learn that part. I agree with 90% of what you are saying here- I just feel like you alluded to training as necessary when experience is much better, but I guess we could consider them one in the same.

I agree that in this industry training is a MUST, because in order to get that experience you at least need to know what you are doing so you don't botch someones wedding, or someones wedding FILM in this case. There are so many 'photographers' buying nice equipment and thinking up a cutesty name before even knowing how to work their camera they are charging clients, and it is only cheapening our industry overall, not to mention the 'art' world as a whole. More and more clients are EXPECTING professional photographers to give away digital negatives for instance because so many people just starting out think "oh well ill just charge $60 for this session and give them the files, that way I dont have to mess with products or learning how to do any of that and it'll be less work'. SO, that obviously is damaging the real artists out there that love to create works of ART for their clients, photographers that value their own time and talent, not to mention years of studying and training to get to that point where they can even create the art. So, I agree, and I strongly feel there should be some sort of 'license' that has to be obtained, the same as a hairdresser does, in order to operate a photography studio, but that's just my own opinion

Bravo Tara, said what I was thinking, licensing is the way ahead for photography, I have studied hard and qualified and gained the experience. Watched a dreadful demonstration the other day by a Husband and Wife team doing the lifestyle photography bit. They were showing off lightroom and photoshop and they were completely doing the wrong work to these images. I lost my temper and politely left. What they were doing in five minutes, I can do faster, reasoning is that I am dark room trained, and know what filters, colours, and latitude to work at. There are too many inexperienced people out there cheapening the trade for us. I had one person a Uncle come by and ask me to touch up all his wedding photos in photoshop for him for around £50. He was not happy that I explained that would pay for two pictures. Also declined as it was denying someone else a chance to trade and earn. There should be a license to operate as a wedding photographer with exams, and practical exams as well to test competence. I can drive a car doesnt mean I can race in Nascar.

Licensing for photography??? Are you freakin' kidding me??? You
want the government to come in and regulate art??? If you haven't
noticed, government involvement with anything is a recipe for disaster.
So, why would you want these bozos to come in and tell you how to run
your business???

I have a better idea...

Rather than
being in total denial that the digital world has fundamentally changed
the way business is done -- including photography -- why don't you use
the superior creativity that you boast of and apply it to your
MARKETING, and spend your energy educating your potential clients as to
'why' they should be investing in your awesome abilities, instead of the
$500 weekend warrior. Otherwise, you are all coming across as a bunch
of whiners (or whingers, if you are from that side of the pond) looking
for hand-outs and entitlements. If you think you deserve the job, then
get out there and prove it to the market, rather than take the easy road
and BLAME others for your short-comings?

As for the need for
"training", yes, that is important, but it doesn't mean that you are a
great, or even a good, photographer simply because you have a degree or
certification in photography. I've seen my fair share of art school
grads whose work is contrived (i.e., they have a "forced" style that
they had to come up with for one of their courses), technically flawed
and downright boring. In fact, the best photographers that I know
didn't go to art school, and are self-taught. Many of them also have
previous experience in the business world (hint hint, for all of you art
school grads who didn't bother to take a business class or two as an
elective).

So, I suggest that you all spend less energy
complaining about the state of the photography industry, and more energy
working on your own game AND YOUR MARKETING. You might have the best
gear and the best skills in the world, but if you don't know how to
market yourself, then whose fault is it that you're not getting the
jobs?

Steven Rosas's picture

Very well said!

Anthony Woodruffe's picture

Whereas I like the most of the points you make in your comment, i do think that it is an obligation of the event organiser to make sure you are watered an fed. Depending on the amount of hours you're booked but in the 4 years I've been working professionally, I've never once needed to resort to bringing my own food. it doesn't mean you should necessarily receive a lavish 5 course meal like the rest of the guests, but on the flip-side segregating yourself from the party creates a them and you relationship. From a psychological point of you it puts you in a lower rank than the guests. And whereas yes you respect the guests and do your best to be unobtrusive, on the other hand you don't expect guests to see you as an immaterial part of the event and push you out of shots you're being paid to get. That when you ask for a certain group of people, they ignore you because you have no authority/jurisdiction over the proceedings. it's important you don't distance yourself, that you're not see as a stranger and that you are a genuine part of the party and that you feel accepted by the guests there. Eating with the group helps break down many barriers and become a part of the party.

Anthony, if I as a plumber came to fix your pipes as part of my job. Halfway through the day I ask you for a sandwich you would be taken aback. Access to water and ablutions is fine. In no other industry I can think off would you be asked to do the same, if your taxi driver took you through a drive thru and expected you to pay for his happy meal you would be upset. If you are charging a lot of money for you to attend a event you need to be able to admin yourself. Me I have electrolyte drinks, energy gels and a sandwich in a cool box in the car. If the venue offers food take it. But dont expect it riders are for divas, not workers.

B.S. Plumbers can take lunch/dinner brakes and generally don't work 12 hours a day, they can drive away for lunch if they have to. Shooting a wedding I can't leave or take breaks when I feel like.

Bad personal administration then, or lack of forethought about having an assistant on shoot. sorry that does not fit. You are not constantly shooting for 12 hrs there is scope to drink, feed and admin yourself. There are lulls during the day, as for 12 hours well charging a lot of money for your time for some a £100 an hour better than £7 someone doing the same amount of hours in a supermarket. You are a photographer, not a diva, not a pop star, not a lifestyle accessory for the bride. Anyone who thinks photography is easy money is not obviously suited for the trade. Not being able to organise or administer yourself, just highlights poor business practice as well.

Anthony Woodruffe's picture

There's a difference to what this woman done in the video to being treated as a friend by the host(s). But you wouldn't know about that because you've never dined with your host. So either you think you're not worthy to be part of the party, or you see yourself as so professional that you think you are above the other guests.

Let's put that one to vote shall we?

Wow, I wonder how you manage to sleep at night, knowing how perfect you are. You seriously think that saving the B&G approx. £30 is of any value to their £15,000 wedding. Get real.

Don't be so patronising to other commenters here they're all doing a job and a get the impression, good ones too.

You are in the service industry, you are there to serve. You are there as a photographer and also consultant. There is no caste system, you are not a friend, you are someone that they rely on for advice and guidance. Yes you can be a friend by guidance to them. As for professional, you have to be. Eating with the other guests is a practice that I abhor, that is my personal view, during that period cards are downloaded and backed up and cameras prepped for the reception. Gives you the chance to also quickly change, and freshen up for the reception. You do things your way I do them mine, lets agree to disagree.

Anthony Woodruffe's picture

yeah let's do that

Richard Cave- From my understand UK weddings are more laid back and shorter than ones in the US. I have been shooting/editing events for 30 years professionally in the NYC area. 12 hours without any real break is common here. The client in most cases is hiring you to shoot and not your assistant -many clients would get very bent out of shape if you tried to pull that-On the high end events that I work I have to deal with event planners on the job often and they would rip me up if I tried to brown bag it on the job they would find it not classy, also if it is a Jewish event at a temple you can not bring in food because it is not Kosher.A good event planner usually tries to provide a vendor meal because they know a happy vendor will in most cases do a better job. In the UK you are not shooting in 90+ degree (F) temperatures outside for hours on average during the Summer which it prime wedding season here. The breakdown for the shoot here is 1-bride's house(bridal prep) for photo shoot or at a hotel (morning) 2-Church Mass (afternoon) 3-Shoot in a park directly after church- then reception directly after (5-6 hours) also in my area the traffic is very bad so you can never take a chance going from locations to take a break because you never know what trouble awaits you on the roads

Anthony Woodruffe's picture

I've never seen any other person eating a packed lunch at a wedding. Not ever. That's from the photographer, to the DJ and the people working the tables. By all means carry on with your own business practices but If the host of an event offers me food then I find it disrespectful to turn their kindness down. What would one say
"no, no. You eat your succulent beef filet, I still have my half eaten sandwich in the car.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I must have very nice clients...

Feeding me and my team is a prerequisite of any shoot I do. It doesn't have to be fancy (although some lay on amazing meals,) and some will insist I stop shooting and eat with or at least whilst the guests eat, (and I'm talking about some seriously major private events...)

It's not being a diva to expect such treatment and years ago it would have been considered standard by many. Snag is that the industry has been eroded and our sense of self worth is often diminished. I consider myself a specialist whom the client has selected carefully and as with many other industries I look to be treated with respect.

If a company invited a CEO over to it's offices for paid consultancy work, would they pack him off to the local cafe or expect him / her to bring sandwiches...? No of course not. There would be a level of respect and this is reciprocated in the quality of service offered.

Or maybe I am a diva... As long as I am fed, I quite happy to be a well fed diva...

Seems a lot like you're asking me, also paid to be there, to go out of my way to accommodate the videographer? Strip down my gear to make sure they get the shot they need? Crawl about on the floor so I am out of their line of site? The only good points in this post are #1 and #6. Where is the post titled, "An Important Short Lesson For All Wedding Videographers?" I cannot believe I am the only one that took offense to this post.

That said, I have no idea what she was shooting up front with that lens and not knowing the whole story forces us to assume a lot. Perhaps she tried to communicate, the video team was rude, so she did not make any exceptions for them. Maybe the video team set up behind her for the purpose of making this video.

Communication is key and can usually help avoid things like what we see in this video. However, to me, this post reads like wedding photogs are obligated to make sure the video folks get what they need when it is a two way street. I am not going to shoot the ceremony from the back of the room and I will be down front at times during the ceremony.

>Perhaps she tried to communicate, the video team was rude, so she did not make any exceptions for them

Even then, being spiteful to the video crew and in turn giving the bride and groom a crappy video because you felt like being a snot is still unprofessional. Would be totally uncalled for to take things personally there and act like that in theory.

great article guys! as a videographer myself, that's very true, we do need to get to know the photogs so we have a good working relationship with them.

however, that's a very mediocre video, sorry guys. excellent exposure and all, but where i come from, Same Day Edits are the norm and we serve the highlight reel at the reception. There is nothing powerfully conveyed in the clip above. slider shots left to right? huh? why?

I think the video folks set up behind the photog for the purpose of making this video. Just my thoughts- no proof.

hehe all i'm saying is that, even with the photographer blocking their line of sight, their highlight reel won't really be improved anyway. lol

SDE's will never become standard, not because of lack of talent to get it done, but simply because there are far too many videographers that are actually sane and not willing to take the risk of one thing going wrong and potentially ending up with a bride-zilla on hands and a lawsuit. Suddenly your business name is being smeared by word of mouth around town. People won't care to know the details, all they will care about is that a friend told them that your business totally screwed up their wedding big time. No one cares about the hows or whys involved.

I would never ever risk it, it's not worth the stress and probably not worth the extra money you could possibly squeeze out of a client for the feature either.

The first time I was shooting a wedding and their was a videographer there, he came to me in a friendly and comical way and said "at the end of the day, we are either going to be good friends or hate each other." He then went on to explain himself and handed me a radio with an earbud. If either of was was in each other's way, we would just hit the alert button. I had a lot of beeping in my ear that day!
I also learned what a great help they can be during the first dance and such, when they have a light on their camera, they can create some beautiful rimlight for you!
I don't do weddings anymore, but shoot a lot of events with videographers and they are really easy to get along with it you play nice!
(Side note to anyone who shoots weddings with a second photographer, or covers events with a second photographer or even a team-2way radios with earbuds are much better than cell phones!)

Andrew Sible's picture

holy crap that sounds annoying! did you learn quick or was it just a nerve-racking annoyance?

I feel like if I wasn't feeling really positive about the videographer I would be intimidated by constant beeping. did you beep at them much??

Pages