This question came from a Facebook follower.
I have a quick question about weddings –I was photographing one tonight + there were only a million + one people surrounding my partner + i during the cake cutting with their cameras.I ended up getting a shot during the cake cutting that was completely blown out due to all the flashes that were firing…..all i kept thinking is ‘what would mark do…’ lol
do you have any rules for this?
What would I do?
What a great question. I can certainly relate to situations where guests with cameras seem to be aligned against our team. Sometimes it seems that they know exactly when to step into the frame to ruin a perfectly composed image (especially when the bride is walking down the aisle). During family portraits, it’s as if they are waving huge posters directing the subjects to look at them instead of the photographer. Their flashes do occasionally interfere as well. It’s tempting to combat them with insider tactics like setting my strobes to fire via slave every time they take a picture (so that their picture is blown out), but there are other things to consider before taking such drastic (yet funny) measures.
Guests are not the enemy- they just want to remember the event (and be the first to post images on facebook)
Wedding guests really aren’t the enemy. Contrary to popular belief, they really aren’t there to make our job as wedding photographers more difficult, or to interfere with our work. They simply want to capture the celebration and have images to share. I certainly don’t have a problem with this. As a photographer, I love the fact that others are enjoying themselves with their cameras, and I certainly hope they have images that they can enjoy for a lifetime. So if they really aren’t the enemy- how do we approach these situations?
1. Communication with your clients
Any communication with your clients about this issue should be handled well before the wedding day. Many photographers have clauses in their contracts that state that they are to be the only photographers at the wedding. While that is extreme, it can be one method. However, I don’t think Brides and Grooms should be in a position to police for other cameras at their wedding. They should be able to enjoy their day without having to worry about enforcing any rules. One thing that we have started offering is a “no cameras please” card from Design Aglow. Clients can simply have these cards available during the ceremony so that guests are tempted to waive their cameras in the aisle, obstructing the photographers view while the the bride is walking down the aisle. Check out the template at http://www.designaglowshop.com/collections/contracts-forms-workflow/products/wedding-guest-request-cards-no-cameras-please. Of course, something like this could be used for the ceremony only, or it could be worded to cover the ceremony and reception.
2. Communication with guests
Wedding photographers have to be a little vocal at times. It’s wise to choose your battles wisely, and only give direction to guests during critical times. In our business, we generally give direction to guests on 4 occasions.
A. During family portraits. We ask guests with cameras to not take pictures until we finish with each pose (this way, guests will look only at our camera instead of 10 different directions) If we are on a tight time frame, we ask that no pictures be taken because we only have a few minutes to complete the portraits before the church lady kicks us out.
B. During cake cutting. As mentioned in the question above, sometimes flashes can interfere with the image by causing the couple to look different directions. The flashes can cause distractions, especially if there is a reflective surface (like a window) behind the couple. Occasionally- the flashes can cause the main photographers image to be blown as well (as mentioned above). Our studio uses pretty powerful quantum lighting that will easily override any flash on a guest’s camera, unless they came prepared for battle.
C. During bouquet and garter toss. It’s not very often that we have to give direction here, but occasionally guests prefer to line up in front of our cameras so they can get the shot. When they do- we throw something at them, in the spirit of the moment, of course.
D. During the exit. We tell them where to form the tunnel for the best shot. We ask them not to step in the tunnel. If they are drunk, we pour water on their sparkler so they don’t burn us (not really- but that is tempting).
3. Other Useful techniques to squish any intruders.
A) As mentioned above, use a flash strong enough to overpower the flash on smaller cameras.
B) Use multiple shooters. It’s impossible to keep everyone out of your shot at all times, but when your team is shooting from multiple angles, chances are much slimmer that you’ll miss the shot.
C) Form barricades, especially around the cake table. Set up light stands. Team up with the video crew to form a front line.
D) Be mindful of the venue rules. If the intruders are breaking them, inform the venue.
Communication is the absolute best defense against any intrusion, use it to your advantage. Guests aren’t there to interfere on purpose- they are just happy about the couple’s big day.
I hope this helps!
If you have a question, simply email us (firstname.lastname@example.org), or post it on our facebook wall ( www.facebook.com/markericweddings ) Your question could be used in our next “ask m.e.” blog post!