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08/07/2007 11:02:10 PM · #1
So it's taken me awhile to calm down enough to write about it.... here I go...

So I did this wedding for a couple moving to Korea soon after their wedding. because of their situation I did the wedding for next to nothing, they couldn't pay much and it was either that or cameras on the table sort of thing (or so they made me believe). so week before the wedding comes and suddenly we can't get ahold of them, not by home phone, cell, email, nothing... and I'm thinking odd... but they've already paid so I head out the day of the wedding.

Because we couldn't get ahold of them to confirm everything we arrived (by 'we' I mean my wife and I) at the time on the contract, turns out they've changed that to a couple hours later... great 30 degree's outdoor wedding and here we are caught waiting. never the less the time of the wedding comes (bride of course didn't show till the last minute {read: they started the music right as she pulled up}, completely unbeknown to me)and who should show up with the bride? This other guys toting a rather large Cannon. of course as a Nikon guy my toes start to curl immediatly... who is this guy I wonder... but no time for that the wedding has already started, I figure that this guy would see me working and get the heck out of my way... no such luck! I have dozens of ceremony shots with him in the way, and dozens more I couldnt' take because he was right in the way. but this is a wedding, not the time to make a scene... right?

The wedding ends and I go straight to this guy to find out who the hell he is (and by now it's all I can do not to commit murder) "oh I'm her uncle, isn't my new equipment great?!"

I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing worse than a shutterbug family member at a wedding! non the less I decide that I'll continue on (being the consummate professional that I am). so we head off to the formals... I figure he'd head off to something else... no such luck... he comes too... I get to work getting people to do what I need for the formal, and what does he do? WELL, he starts stealing people for his own little shoot!!! (now I'm almost too the edge... but I do keep it together) next he comes and starts telling me what I should be doing!

To my credit I did not lose it at this guy. and I did not make a scene for the bride. I did however pack it in after the formals and informed the couple that the seemed to have adequate coverage for their reception.

Has anyone else had a day like this? what would you do? or do to prevent it?
08/07/2007 11:06:20 PM · #2
...and THAT is why i don't want to shoot weddings!

i wish i could tell you a way to prevent that from happening again, but i can't.

sorry you had to go through all that, i understand how frustrating it is!
08/07/2007 11:06:22 PM · #3
Man, I've worked shoots with "friends" or "buddies" that just asked if they could help out and I did not know it and YES it's very annoying. I did the best I could to hold tight till the man did a similar move and being right behind my shoulder after setting up shots and clicking away.

Finally, I decided to be mean and cruel and gave him the low down of all the hardships that come with being a photographer and especially copyrighting... and how I'm copyrighted and hired and thus the legality is a total mess and asked with a wink if he understood. He stormed away. I should have held tight like you but its VERY hard. I figured he learned a good lesson if he indeed is training to be a photographer and the first lesson being respect for the art! Its hard to do an event like a wedding let alone with unplanned frustrations.
08/07/2007 11:14:52 PM · #4
I think I'm going to write into my contract that no other photographer's be present... but I'm not sure how to write that in without it being totally unenforceable.
08/07/2007 11:21:38 PM · #5
I know this won't sound very sympathetic, but:

was there a contract?

If you were paid to do a job, a contract is the best way to protect both you and the customer - that is, if the contract is well written. Does that answer 'suck', when all you wanted was to make a few dollars while helping someone out? sure, but it is better than having to put up with what you've just gone through...

So far as the other guy is concerned, it is our job as the 'professional' to properly (and politely!) inform people of how things are supposed to work - ie., you were hired to do a job, and cannot DO that job if they are in your way, that you will even help them / allow them to take some shots when you are done, etc. etc. etc.

i KNOW that dealing with people can be a PITA but, sometimes, a little kindness and polite education can go a long way. Not only will you have a more enjoyable day, but the happy couple won't have to figure out "who the hell do we look at?" AND the other 'photographer' will learn a lesson while THANKING you for sharing your skills / talent ((even if you DID do it in order to get things done the way you wanted!))

on a more personal note, I wish it had gone better for you... Bravo for holding your tongue as long as you did!

ETA - i was typing about the contract while you were posting.

Message edited by author 2007-08-07 23:22:41.
08/07/2007 11:21:47 PM · #6
I am fairly dominant (no kidding!!) and I tell the couple ahead of time what I WILL be doing and what the time slots are. I tell them once they walk back down the aisle we will disappear for 15 minutes so they have time with their family and friends. During this time the families can take snapshots and congratulate the couple. We usually go for a break and also grab some candids (we have usually been working a few hours by this stage).

We then tap the bride on the shoulder and take the entire wedding party to a specificied location (within sight of the ceremonial area) and we set them up for some group shots (only basic ones). This is where the 'snapshotters' can take shots over my shoulder...but for 20 minutes only!! Then I take the wedding party (no parents or snapshotters) to a different location via the wedding cars.

We do all the group shots, and other specified shots, smoothly and always with time to spare. This is the time I tell the bride to kick off her shoes...have some alcohol and/or ciggies and forget about the world. NO CAMERAS ALLOWED!! That is her time to recoup before the reception....and usually for 30 minutes.

Then we redo the lippy..grab a kiss photo at sunset and then head for the reception. Everyone is refreshed and relaxed...and no damn snapshotters.
08/07/2007 11:34:30 PM · #7
You can't inforce a contract like that. Other wise you will be suing every family member or friend of the couple that bring their own cameras.

There are other ways to handle it... one, you could have pulled the couple aside and politely told them that he was ruining the shots that they had paid for. If they didn't seem to mind, then at least you had covered that with them so they couldn't come back later and say you didn't do what they paid your for. Two, you could have told the guy that they had paid you to take the pictures and if he would hold off taking pictures until you got yours, then you would give him an oppurtunity to take some as well. Since he was going to get in your way and take them anyway, you wouldn't be any worse off with him getting pictures, had he gone along with you. Three, your wife could have played interference for you and gotten in his way when he was trying to shoot. I've known photographers where one would hold a reflector or something out to block the other guy or just move in front of them just as they were shooting... being polite and saying "excuse me" a lot. But generally just getting in his way.

In a lot of cases like this, just because they out gun you in camera equipment, it doesn't mean they can out shoot you. Although it's hard to take a bad picture with a Canon ;D some people do manage to do so. He might find that his are all under exposed, out of focus, cropped bad, etc. and yours will still be better. After all, if he was any good, they wouldn't have hired you at all and just had him do it to begin with.

But for your contract, never put anything in them that you can't enforce or won't seem like so much fluff to some people.

Mike


08/07/2007 11:34:42 PM · #8
Originally posted by rossbilly:

I know this won't sound very sympathetic, but:

was there a contract?

If you were paid to do a job, a contract is the best way to protect both you and the customer - that is, if the contract is well written. Does that answer 'suck', when all you wanted was to make a few dollars while helping someone out? sure, but it is better than having to put up with what you've just gone through...

So far as the other guy is concerned, it is our job as the 'professional' to properly (and politely!) inform people of how things are supposed to work - ie., you were hired to do a job, and cannot DO that job if they are in your way, that you will even help them / allow them to take some shots when you are done, etc. etc. etc.

i KNOW that dealing with people can be a PITA but, sometimes, a little kindness and polite education can go a long way. Not only will you have a more enjoyable day, but the happy couple won't have to figure out "who the hell do we look at?" AND the other 'photographer' will learn a lesson while THANKING you for sharing your skills / talent ((even if you DID do it in order to get things done the way you wanted!))

on a more personal note, I wish it had gone better for you... Bravo for holding your tongue as long as you did!

ETA - i was typing about the contract while you were posting.


I do have a contract but how would you word things as far as the no other photographer part.
08/07/2007 11:46:24 PM · #9
Michael (Mike?) - it isn't so much that no one else can TAKE photos, but that the person paying you for your work RECOGNIZES that you are the primary, and that your work takes precedence over that of others. It is also important to discuss this with the couple / customer after they place a deposit. You can be incredibly nice about it, and still get the point across.

This doesn't actually stop others from getting in the way, but it does help to reduce YOUR stress level. Since you have already talked to the customer about it (and they of course agreed that you SHOULD have precedence), then you should not feel stressed to politely ask someone (in a very friendly manner!) to wait / stop / move, etc.

Think of it this way - treat them like a kid: is it easier to 'whack them on the head & listen to them cry', or simply divert their attention elsewhere? Hell, hand THEM the reflector & say "ooh! i have a GREAT idea and you could SO help me get the perfect shot"

be creative, be nice, and make them think YOU are an angel - even if your methods are more devilish ;)

Message edited by author 2007-08-07 23:47:34.
08/07/2007 11:47:20 PM · #10
Originally posted by MikeJ:

just because they out gun you in camera equipment, it doesn't mean they can out shoot you. Although it's hard to take a bad picture with a Canon ;D some people do manage to do so. He might find that his are all under exposed, out of focus, cropped bad, etc. and yours will still be better. After all, if he was any good, they wouldn't have hired you at all and just had him do it to begin with.

But for your contract, never put anything in them that you can't enforce or won't seem like so much fluff to some people.

Mike


I wouldn't have called myself out gunned... not by any means...(not by a cannon anyway...lol)

but couldn't I put something in my contract that say's something like. no other photographers during at least the formals... or something to that effect?
08/08/2007 12:03:59 AM · #11
Originally posted by cudjoem:

I do have a contract but how would you word things as far as the no other photographer part.

New Wedding Photographer Guide? ;)
08/08/2007 12:04:07 AM · #12
Well, you don't necessarily need to put it in the contract, but a good talk with the couple beforehand will normally help. Explain to them that on the photo-shoot, you will be the only photographer. If they don't agree, that's fine, but it's then up to you if you want to take the job. Now you have a story to go with your explanation. You can tell them all about this experience (calmly and lightheartedly), and they will understand how difficult it was for you. Hopefully they will understand, and do their best to make sure it won't happen at their wedding.

Also, it is good to find out who is the nominated person on the day - often the brides mother. Talking to the couple on the day can be difficult, and the couple are best left out of problems, so they can enjoy the day, but there's often someone else who is the first point of call on the wedding day. Go to them, and get them to talk to the other photographer. It is also best if you can meet this person when you meet the couple. My wife's mother was the 'event manager' on the day, and everything went through her. She knew what we wanted, and we didn't have to worry about anything at all on the day. She also met the photographer beforehand, so she knew what the photographer's needs were.

As someone else also mentioned, a breif communication with happy-snappers on the day helps. You can't stop others from taking photos. Let the happy snappers know that you will give them a chance to shoot after you, so guests will let you have focus, knowing they will get a turn before you take control again to form the next group.

And ditto - well done for restraining your frustration.
08/08/2007 12:22:16 AM · #13
Originally posted by _eug:

Originally posted by cudjoem:

I do have a contract but how would you word things as far as the no other photographer part.

New Wedding Photographer Guide? ;)


Thanks! I'm reading it now and it's good stuff...
08/08/2007 01:05:31 AM · #14
Originally posted by _eug:

New Wedding Photographer Guide? ;)


That's a great guide! Lots of useful info, and the right level of seriousness. :)
08/08/2007 01:31:41 AM · #15
Here's what we have in our contract:
Exclusivity and Authority: It is understood that this studio is the exclusive official photographer retained to perform photographic services requested in this agreement. Kokoro Photography will have priority over any other type of photographer or videographer employed in connection with this event in the positioning of cameras and equipment. It is understood that no other photographer, amateur or professional, shall be allowed to photograph the event while the studio is working. The client will hold the studio harmless for any damage done by any breech of this agreement (for example, over exposure due to multiple flashes or persons in a formal portrait looking in multiple directions).

We go over this in depth at the time we meet with the couple. At our last couple weddings the groom announced that there would be no photos taken while we were doing the ceremony or formals. One couple even printed a statement in their program. Not everyone pays attention but it's cut down on the number of obnoxious uncles with camera!
08/08/2007 01:38:59 AM · #16
Originally posted by cudjoem:

who should show up with the bride? This other guys toting a rather large Cannon.

i wouldn't mess with someone toting a large cannon, unless i'm driving a tank... :p
08/08/2007 04:36:12 AM · #17
There's really not much you can do besides tell the bride, wedding coordinator or MOB to warn/handle "Uncle Bobs".

You can put a clause in your contract about it, but what are you really going to do? Walk out of the wedding? I don't think you should put anything in your contract you're not prepared to enforce and walking out mid-wedding is not a good career move. Word will travel like wildfire and you will be the "jerk Photographer who walked out on so-and-so". Good luck repairing your reputation after that one.

08/08/2007 05:12:57 AM · #18
Surely in these situations it is up to what the b&g want. If they have paid for your time, then your duty (after making a polite request or two) is only to ensure that the b&g know that your shots will take longer to set up and take, and/or may be compromised by another person taking photographs at the same time. I dont think that you should assume that the most important thing for the b&g is necessarily your photographs it is their day and their choice on how to handle it, and your job to do your best to document it in accordance with their instructions (with or without uncle bob).

If my wedding photographer had told us and our guests what we all *had* to do, in order to make her life easier, she would not have been our photographer for very long.

08/08/2007 05:29:14 AM · #19
I would of tapped the guy on the shoulder and said "Hi, your Niece has hired & paid me to shoot her wedding not the back of your head, so, if you don't mind..." If after that he refused I would of handed the bride back her cash and said my farewell". I had a small bit of grief once when a cursed VIDEOMAN was getting in the way of all my shots. This may sound a bit nasty to some but if you ever had the videoman from hell you may find it funny. I crept up behind him and unclipped his battery pack and threw it up the lawn and said "Can you please get of my my friggin way for a few shots!"

Weddings are crazy things full of emotion, in a few weeks you will be laughing about this Mad Uncle with his new Canon.


08/08/2007 05:35:47 AM · #20
You need to show authority to the snappers who tag along.. I have no qualms asking those who do want to annoy the hell out of you if they could make themselves disappear during the formals.

During the pre-wedding meet I usually go through a few shots and mention that the B&G will need to be relaxed and comfortable, and to achieve that on the day, I will take them away from the group so they will not feel self-concious when I am getting them to pose in certain ways, you will find that most couples actually prefer not having their nearest & dearest milling around as they all get a bit shy..

On the day, if people dont take subtle hints, just tell them straight out. Failing that get the groom or best-man to have a word with them, people generally listen if they make a request.

I have had a couple of head-to-heads in the past, both of them in April of this year.. One of them really was "THE WEDDING FROM HELL©", I will write about that tale of woe another time. Basically the father of the bride, without telling her, had booked his own photographer to take his offical shots, (the reason is even more unbelievable, basically it was a Nigerian wedding and the dad was not pleased his daughter had booked a couple of white guys to shoot it.. talk about racism, can you imagine a white guy saying that to a couple of black 'togs?). Its probably the closest I have ever come to actually hitting another person whilst on the job, in the end, the bride dismissed the other guy, but at one point it came very close to fisticuffs, but like I said, it was the wedding from hell and by the end of the day everyone was redlining.
08/08/2007 05:38:28 AM · #21
Originally posted by MAK:

This may sound a bit nasty to some but if you ever had the videoman from hell you may find it funny. I crept up behind him and unclipped his battery pack and threw it up the lawn and said "Can you please get of my my friggin way for a few shots!"


The funny thing is, if anyone else has said that I would of doubted it, MAK is the only person who would do that.. too funny. And I doubt he said "frigging" either :)
08/08/2007 06:06:00 AM · #22
A little off topic but still relevant to the thread...

I've been asked to attend a friend of a friends wedding as an extra photographer to take more candid reportage shots and to cover the reception when the main photographer has finished.

I wouldn't be getting involved in the formals or any of the other shots the main photographer is shooting and would stay in the background taking shots of guest whilst they go about there business.

Is this something they should clear with the main photographer as I wouldn't want to step on any toes.

I'm not charging for attending I was just going to make the prints availale for purchase.

Thanks

Message edited by author 2007-08-08 06:06:30.
08/08/2007 06:52:54 AM · #23
Originally posted by kevip6:

A little off topic but still relevant to the thread...

I've been asked to attend a friend of a friends wedding as an extra photographer to take more candid reportage shots and to cover the reception when the main photographer has finished.

I wouldn't be getting involved in the formals or any of the other shots the main photographer is shooting and would stay in the background taking shots of guest whilst they go about there business.

Is this something they should clear with the main photographer as I wouldn't want to step on any toes.

I'm not charging for attending I was just going to make the prints availale for purchase.

Thanks


It would help if the photographer knew what your role was and was OK with it.

It also would not hurt, assuming the pro is OK with your planned activities, to introduce yourself before the start and try to coordinate a bit. Mostly so you can better stay out of his way.
08/08/2007 07:10:05 AM · #24
Defintely talk to him in advance if possible, tell him your presence has been requested. If he asks you at any time to move, stay out of the way etc, do exactly what he says. Do not tag along for the formals, leave that to the pro. Talking in advance will defintely smooth things along and will make for a far better atmosphere between the two of you on the day.

Originally posted by kevip6:

A little off topic but still relevant to the thread...

I've been asked to attend a friend of a friends wedding as an extra photographer to take more candid reportage shots and to cover the reception when the main photographer has finished.

I wouldn't be getting involved in the formals or any of the other shots the main photographer is shooting and would stay in the background taking shots of guest whilst they go about there business.

Is this something they should clear with the main photographer as I wouldn't want to step on any toes.

I'm not charging for attending I was just going to make the prints availale for purchase.

Thanks
08/08/2007 09:06:36 AM · #25
As to the uncle - when in doubt - ASK THE BRIDE what she wants you to do!
You could also pull the guy aside and explain that she hired you to do the photography and you have no problem with him taking pictures, but the he has to wait until you are done, and that you are on a time schedule.

I had some aunt of the groom try something similar at my last wedding - in the church she was shouting instrucions from teh pews for the formals. I ignored her, she wasn't that annoying.

We go to the park for the fun formals and she comes along. When stepped in front of me to rearrange the groups I snapped ... I apologized to the B&G several times and they seemed fine - the MOB thanked me for 'putting that old bitty in her place' and the video guy shook my hand (later - not there in front of everyone).

My issue and others like this come from not taking charge. In the old days what we did was more of a mystery and everything was posed, few folks had cameras. Now we do more PJ - less intrusive, less controlling - and that lets these other people think we don't know what we're doing, etc. Also, styles of changed - people in their 50s expect poses from their day, and today it's different. Not everyone knows that.

This is one reason you need to charge a fair price - sorry, but if she was paying you $1500 or $2500 or more you'd have gotten respect and she'd have told uncle dude to get out the way. Today $500 or $700 is not much - I spend almost that much in gasoline every month!
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