Company Name - Company Message

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? 

Here’s what 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 frustration.

-         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 restaged.

-         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 snaps.

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.

Mindy 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 images.