You’d like to do something nice for the bride.
You’re a pretty fair photographer, and you’ve got a decent DSLR camera, so why
not take it along to the wedding and get some nice shots for her?
you might not have considered:
The bride hired a photographer based on
the photographer’s style, personality and approach. Your approach may not be
what the couple had in mind, and they probably won’t want to have to tell you
this in the middle of their big day.
The photographer and the bride have
worked closely together to determine a timeline and a list of the special
people she’d like to have photographed on the wedding day. If you step in to
suggest a shot with Cousin Lucy, you may upset the flow of images that have
been planned. This causes delays and confusion, and who knows? Maybe the bride
has requested no pictures with Cousin Lucy for a darned good reason.
The photographer, an experienced and
skilled professional who has shot hundreds of weddings over the years,
understands how to work with the ebbs and flows of energy on a wedding day.
It’s a marathon, and not a dash. The photographer has to work within the
context of the full day, and she is exquisitely sensitive to the energy levels
of the wedding couple and their families (especially those who might be ill or
frail). If you are asking for “just a quick shot” with the bride and groom, or
to “just one more” during group shots, you may be contributing to fatigue and
The photographer will have an innate
understanding of the important moments in a wedding day (and they’re not only
the ones you might think of). The red glow of your focus beam, your ill-timed flash,
and your physical position may interfere with the photographer’s ability to
capture those deeply special moments of the wedding day. Real moments can’t be
The photographer has a limited amount of
time to organize, build rapport with, and photograph the family members chosen
by the bride. Your camera will draw eyes
away from the photographer’s camera. The end result will be family photographs
with some family members glancing your way, or extra time being taken from the
wedding celebration so that the photographer can re-gather the attention of
those being photographed.
And while you may think that your
donation of snapshots to the bride will save her the expense of purchasing images
from her photographer, please keep in mind that she has likely already
purchased an album or a print collection and will not have a need for your
As a wedding photographer, I’ve been tripped and elbowed.
I’ve had eager family members with cameras push in front of me during the
processional, during the kiss, during any number of once-in-a-lifetime moments.
I’ve had aspiring photographers shoot over my shoulder and present these
images, posed and lit by me, as their own photographic work. I’ve had people
stand off to one side and call out for everyone to “look over here!” while I
photograph family groups. I’ve had
people take the flower girl or ring bearer aside “just for a few pictures”
during the breaks I had scheduled for these little ones, and return them, hot,
cranky and utterly unable to sit for any more pictures. I’ve had people badger
the bride and groom for photos so much that the couple begins to feel stressed
and frustrated, and their smiles grow tight and thin.
Of course, I take the time to politely explain and
ask snap-shooting folks to stop what they’re doing. But if the moment is
already missed, then it is too late. And the time I’m taking to ask for
cooperation is time that I should be spending photographing - you know, doing
the job the couple has commissioned me to do.
As the photographer, please trust me when I say,
“I’ve got this!” The bride chose me to
make these images. She likes my work. She has spent considerable time with me
to plan the photography for her day. She invited you to come, not as a
photographer, but as her friend or family member. Bring your camera for some
fun shots of family and friends at the reception, but I beg you, let the
photographer do her job.
When the bride and groom sit down years from now to
look at a gorgeous album full of images of the most special moments from their
most special day, they’ll be grateful both for your presence and for their
photographer’s good work.
Gough is a portrait and documentary photographer working in Stratford, Ontario.
She’s “retired” from photographing weddings now, but hopes these thoughts will
help brides, grooms and photographers to have happy days filled with beautiful