Social Media Split After Wedding Photographer Shares Controversial 'Safety Shot' Technique

Social Media Split After Wedding Photographer Shares Controversial 'Safety Shot' Technique

The internet is split after a wedding photographer shared a controversial "safety shot" technique he uses in case couples divorce or break up.

The photographer, Adam Lowndes, shared the technique on his TikTok recently, in which he shows himself photographing the bride and groom with close family and their respective partners. After capturing the shot, he asks the partner of the sister of the bride to step out of the frame, prompting laughter from those still in the image. 

Lowndes goes on to explain that he removed the partner from the shot "just in case" to ensure he had a version of the bridge and groom with their close family only in case they separated from their partners. The clip gained several million views and sharply split opinions. Some called it a practical and shrewd move that took a realistic perspective. Others said it was insulting to the person asked to leave and that Lowndes should have started with the smallest combination and added to it to avoid singling out anyone.

Lowndes posted a follow-up the next day, saying that he would not have proceeded that way had he not already established a good rapport with the guests. Regarding his decision to start with the larger group and work downward, he said it's easier that keep track of people that way, as they might wander off otherwise. 

Lowndes said the technique was actually inspired by a wedding in which he asked all partners to temporarily vacate the frame so he could take a shot of only the close family, only to hear that the bride's brother and his girlfriend had broken up that very same night, immediately validating the method. He says it's a useful way to increase the longevity of his work and to decrease future Photoshop requests.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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I get the idea but I do not believe it's the photographer's job to be proactive with what happen in guests and witnesses personal life. Now, if it is instructed by the bride and groom before the wedding, that could be considered part of the job.

I agree it isn't the photographer's job, but he could also do what was mentioned in the article. Add family methodically and ending with boyfriends, girlfriends of family and close friends of the couple. He'd have his safety shot and nobody would be the wiser.

Agreed. I always do the "blood relatives" followed by "If you see your 'significant other' up here, go stand next to them!"

Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with the photographer, this is one of the best examples of Roland Barthes understanding of time in "Camera Lucida" that I've ever encountered.

#1 Objective Time
The time the photo is created that denotes an event that actually happened at a particular moment in history.

#2 Subjective Time
The time when the photo is viewed by a spectator that will always be colored by the connotation of the individual's memory of what happened after the event.

The photographer is changing the denotation of the wedding event in objective time, in order to account for the possibility of multiple memories of the event in subjective time. Forgive me for my oversimplification of Barthes, but this really is a great demonstration of how all photographs are in tension with history.

It is indeed the photographer’s job to do everything possible to make photographs that will be valuable to the client for years to come. The bride and groom won’t be thinking of these problems, but they certainly will appreciate the foresight of a professional photographer. Furthermore, it’s not being rude to ask someone to leave the group if they are not married into the family. Want to be included? Then say your vows pledging a lifetime commitment. Put a ring on it or quit your whining.

Absolutely. They are paying for that level of forethought and planning. Every wedding I've attended has had some variation on this process. Girlfriends, boyfriends and random "plus ones" are not family. Period. This is typically a discussion to be had beforehand with the client and/or parents of the bride and groom. Let them decide who is and is not included in "family" groups.

This is something I've done for—oh, I don't know—about 800+ weddings. No one has ever questioned it. Not once.

800+= respect

Do you think this story is really just about the fact that he said the quiet part out loud?

Respect to him for saying it out loud and getting a few million people to see his post. Now if he can only monetize it...

In my 12 years of wedding photography this exactly what I do. Of course after setting a rapport with the guests. If thats not the case I call the close family only and then add up to it. 90% of the time there’s a breakup but I always make sure there’s the shot without the boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s common knowledge… atleast where I’m from. If any one gets offended because of that … just put a ring on it.

I do this as a matter of course just because I assume that people don’t want EVERY single photo to have both of them. Sometimes you just want photos of you and your parents / siblings / whatever as well as you and your partner and parents / siblings / whatever.

I guess “social media is split” is maybe code for “a few people thought this was a crass way to put it”?

Or, you can just be mercenary about the whole business aspect, more sales. After all, wedding photography is a business and supplying the client with the the most profit opportunities is just good business.
Sorry, it's not the romantic view but the concept of romantic marriage is a very 20th century , western concept.

Don't all photographers take a picture with immediate family, and then add significant others????

Right? Wondering why this is so controversial.

Brilliant move and so with the times of swiftly changing people shacking up then splitting 2 weeks later.