Corey Talks: Being a Photo Friendly Guest

The day of a wedding, no guest is worried about anything more than  upsetting the bride.  There are a million and one rules of etiquette for the day of the wedding but in those many rules there are few rules advising guests how to make sure to avoid ruining an otherwise perfect photo moment.  Keep these in mind for the next wedding you attend and you may save yourself from being silently cursed by the bride when seeing her pictures.

If you arrive and the processional has started, please don’t walk down the aisle with the processional.   Remember the processional starts with the mothers and continues on through the bridal party and bride.  Wait to the side and find your seat after the processional is over.

This wedding had a lot of stragglers that kept sitting themselves through the processional, which ended up confusing the groom’s mother who ended up seating herself due to the confusion.  If you are late, wait!

 

If you arrive late and the processional has started, don’t stand behind the bride at the end of the aisle waiting for her to go down.   Wait to the side for her to finish walking up the aisle before coming back to the doorway and taking your seat.

As you can see in this image, there are people waiting at the end of the aisle and they are a distraction in the image as you can see them between the bride and her escort.

 

During the ceremony, please don’t allow your child to run up and down the aisle, especially if you are between the photographer and the bride and groom.

These guys were running up and down the aisle for the entire ceremony and while it is cute for a couple pictures, it also made the wide angle shot up the aisle a bit tricky as the aisle was never clear.

 

During the ceremony, when taking pictures please do so from your seat and do not stand up in the aisle to do so, especially when the bride is walking down the aisle.

This guest was standing RIGHT in front of the groom, whom you cannot see in this image or this series of images.  I love to get the groom’s reaction in the frame of the bride but it wasn’t possible due to this guest.

 

Keep arms and legs inside the pews/chairs at all times during the ceremony.  It may be more comfy to sprawl out but often your elbow/foot may become the focus of an otherwise perfect shot.

After hearing Heidi’s anguish over this image, I started saving images of guests ruining pictures for a future blog post.

 

During the exit, leave an exit path for the bride and groom and try to resist the urge to crowd them.

As you can see in this exit, there was no path and seeing the bride and groom isn’t easy.  With a clear path for the bride and groom they are easily visible.

 

Likewise, don’t jump in front of the photographer between the bride and groom and them to take a picture during the exit (or anytime).

This bride wanted a pause at the door for the photo opp of having everyone ringing their bells and being excited which was marred by this guest needing a picture.

 

If a photographer is taking a picture of you, keep doing what you’re doing – if we wanted you to look at us, we’d tell you (same with make a face!).

This couple was having a great animated conversation but when they saw me they struck a pose…

 

On the dance floor try to be aware of where the photographer is when dancing, try not to jump in front of our lens. (I delete all these pics so use your imagination here).

 

Keep an eye on your kids during the reception, they are often intrigued by our cameras and gear.  If you see them messing with our gear or us, please make them stop.

This picture is obviously not one the bride and groom received but it proves my point here.  This kid kept jumping up and slamming his hand into the lens and trying to hang from it during the garter removal.  His parents were nowhere to be found and he would not stop no matter what I said.  Eventually my assistant was able to stop him but if she hadn’t, I would have been lucky to get ONE shot of this series.

 

Please be aware where we are on the dance floor and try not to hit us.

This is me in the ER a couple days after an eventful wedding where a guest slammed her elbow down onto the top of my camera, breaking my nose, pulling some muscles in my neck and getting two black eyes.  It was the most horrendous CRUNCH I’ve ever felt in my face and it hurt for quite a few days.  I finished out the night, but shooting wasn’t easy after that!

For tips on how to be a polite guest with a camera, please see my Guest Photographers post…. I shall be soon expanding on this with pictures!

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Trisha - This is really helpful advice. I hope others in future wedding photo shoots will heed it.

Jordana - Oh.My.God. I can’t believe your nose was broken! Excellent posts… at nearly every wedding I shoot there is at least once that I want to kindly elbow someone out of the way!

Edric Morales - Yes, yes, and YES!!! Loving the fact blogged about these issues. So very true, don’t forget about church formals, always an aunt or uncle getting in front of you to take pictures.

Julie - LOVE this post!

valerie - This is right on point Corey! May I please post a link to this post on my site? You summed it up nicely. Or of course I could gather up all my bad guest shots (too many to count)…LOL!

Corey Ann - Absolutely!!! 🙂

Bob - The only thing I’d add to this is that as a vendor, be mindful of other vendors. I strive to stay out of the way of other vendors all day. But you’d be surprised at how many ‘moments’ I miss in shooting video because other vendors get in the way.

Jeff - I agree big time with several of the issues you mentioned. Thanks for giving photographic proof of what we have to deal with.

Some of the things, however, are part of the process and we, as photographers, just have to cope. For example, I don’t think it’s the responsibility of a guest on the dance floor to be mindful of where the photog is at all times. They are there to dance and have a good time; we just need to find better angles and take plenty of shots because chances of someone invading our frame are good.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of our willingness to take control of the situation. On the exit example you posted, when you come out to get in place for the exit, go ahead and speak up and tell everyone to form a line on either side, keeping the middle clear. Assistants are great for this kind of thing. You can get in place and check exposure while he/she herds the cattle.

Guests making faces… Maybe it’s just “them”. There are cut-ups and class clowns in every group, and in some cases, being nutty for the camera is part of who they are. A picture of them sitting and talking may look just fine and nice, but perhaps a more candid shot will bring about a better, more lively response. It might be the difference between seeing the pic and saying, “here’s a picture of Gina and John.” or saying, “Look at Gina and John! Those two are sooo CRAZY!!” with a big smile on your face. If you want to cover it both ways, just make sure you use a long lens and stalk your prey without their knowledge. 😉

Anyway, great post. Hopefully it will cause someone to think a little.

– Jeff

Jay r - Fantastic article. Game me some ideas as well on my end. Great shots! look forward to working with you again soon!

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Sam Soppitt - This is superb! Well done.

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Tina Maria Meconi Araquistain - Thank you so much for making it clear it is OK to request that guests have respect for the whole ceremony and the photographer trying to catch once in a lifetime moments! I am a professional photographer and cannot thank you enough!

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