Second shooters? Not exactly… | For Aspiring Photographers

I received this question recently, and since it is a common problem for wedding photographers, I thought I’d address it here on our blog.

Hi Marissa, I wanted to ask your advice about something. During the wedding I did last weekend, about 5 guests with cameras just would not move out of my way while I was shooting formals. They probably caused us to spend another 10 minutes or so shooting when of course we needed to get to the reception.

It’s in my contract that no one else can take pics while I’m doing formals, but of course the guests didn’t read the contract:) Have you ever had that problem and how did you handle it? Shooting a wedding at River Mill this weekend and I don’t want to be rude, but don’t know how to handle this. I have NEVER had a problem like this at a wedding. Thanks! ~Jill Welch~

Hi, Jill! That can be a pretty awkward moment but if you handle yourself like a professional, you will instil confidence not only in the bride and groom, but the guests. I have been in your situation, as many professionals have… the wedding where every other guest has a camera. Worse, they want to to stand next to you as they snap away. For formal shots, I do these away from the guests, either after the couple has had their “First Look” session, or after the ceremony as guests head to the reception area and mingle. I politely let any bystanders with camera poised know that I don’t allow others to photograph the poses and shots we set up, but they will be available on the bride and groom’s proofing gallery in a few weeks. If they demand a reason, I let them know that: (one) part of the reason we were hired is for our creativity, and it would not be ethical to let someone else capture the shots we set up; (two) other camera’s flashes interfere with our cameras. They wash out our subjects and leave the shots looking overexposed. And finally (three) those point-and-shoot cameras like to throw a little red or green focusing beam at whatever you’re trying to photograph, kind of like a laser pointer, which flatters no one. I usually go over these reasons with the couple (and coordinator, if any) before the wedding even takes place, so that they know what to expect should this situation arise, but that we prefer if they let their guests know beforehand not to interfere with the wedding photographer as we try to do our job. As a bride-to-be myself, I added a note regarding photography and guests bringing cameras onto our wedding website, which we will use to share event details with family and friends. (We offer wedding websites to our couples, or you can create your own with a free template from By the way, I’m enjoying wedding planning at a leisurely pace, with no date set yet but looking at fall of 2012!

For a more humourous take on the subject, check out The New Wedding Guest by Richard Esposito!

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