You Are Not the Only Photographer at a Wedding Anymore

Photographer Richard Esposito has written an interesting article over at Tiffinbox on how weddings are becoming a “too many cooks in the kitchen” kind of environment, where everyone and their mother is a photographer now:

Gone are the days of capturing a sea of guests with genuine emotion on their faces. Now you have to give an elbow to Aunt Clair who’s blocking the aisle with her Digital Rebel in hand as the bride makes her grand entrance. I used to love capturing guests emotion during the first dance, parent dance, even the toasts. But now my subjects are a handful of guests with point and shoots held up blocking their faces, or the tops of everyones head because they are looking down at the back of the camera to check the photo they just took. My favorite moment so far was a photo of the bride going down the aisle from behind. Everyone in front of the bride has their cameras up, everyone that the bride has past is still facing the back of the church with the heads down looking at the back of their camera. Very few people stopped to enjoy the moment of a father walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.

His advice for brides-to-be: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional photographer for one day, the emotional cost of hiring an amateur lasts forever.”

The New Wedding Guest [Tiffinbox via PhotoShelter]

Image credits: Photographs by Richard Esposito/Tiffinbox

  • Eric Calabros

    “record now, enjoy later” instead of “enjoy now, remember later”

  • SwedishKiwi

    I got married last weekend. The wedding officiant said to the guests, before the ceremony began, that taking pictures was okay – as long as they were taken sitting down. The only person that was allowed to move around and take pictures was our hired wedding photographer.

    It worked. And the “advice” worked during dinner as well, so our photographer could take all the pictures she needed.

    But: We also enjoyed all the pictures the “amateurs” had taken, so I wouldn’t want to be without them.

  • rtfe

    “wedding photographer” becomes obsolete.

  • Wilfred Lim

    i guess its all about, let’s be a “professional” guest if you are, let the professional hired photographer do the most photo taking job. You may of course take with your own device, but please spend more time to enjoy the moment with the host as their guest, than a photographer… :)

  • Roy

    If anything, it’s becoming more widespread. The *hired* wedding photographer however…

  • jesse

    Its also becoming increasingly popular to have a “unplugged wedding”. Mine was in June and during the entirety of the ceremony the guests were asked to leave their cameras and cell phones in their pockets/purses and simply enjoy the ceremony. As somonewho shoots weddings I know how frustrating it is to fight off guests who are hardly even paying attention.

  • fast eddie

    I shoot about 20-30 weddings a year, aside from my full time job as a graphic designer. I work around the family and friends who have their point & shoots out, but I am not at all shy about asking people to tone it down or to step aside and let me do my job. I’m not rude about it, either.

    I usually include a few shots of the friends and families with their cameras out, focusing on the bride and groom, or me focusing on the LCD screen of one of the other cameras

    with the bride and groom in focus. The point and shoot photo from friends and family posted on facebook hold the couple over for a few weeks until they get their professional photos from me.

  • Bryansix

    This is not so much of a bad thing and it been happening for quite a while too. The thing is some wedding photographers are good at getting the candid photos too but most concentrate on their sheet of formal photos they absolutely have to capture. The “amateur” photographers sometimes capture better photos. Especially when they are all carrying around the latest and greatest and actually know how to use it.

  • chiPersei

    About 10 or more years ago I had an early Sony digital camera at my niece’s wedding. I believe the highest res was 640×480. Storage media was literally a 3.5″ diskette you could pop out of the camera and into your computer.

    I moved around and filled a couple discs with candids of guests enjoying the ceremonies, talking, sipping wine, laughing, eating, hugging and getting to know each other.

    She often told me how much more she enjoyed my pics over the hired photog (still using film and I’m sure took much better photos). But my pics let her see what was going on. She was so wrapped up being the bride that she really didn’t experience much of it if you know what I mean.

  • Greko

    On September, I attended a friend’s wedding in the greek island of Chalki. In the wedding, an amateur photographer friend of the couple was also invited. He had brought his camera, a Canon 550D with a kit lens. His mistake was that he had a battery grip installed. At the beginning of the wedding, the hired photographer was hostile to him, although the amateur was shooting far behind him, not wanting to block his shots. When he first saw the guy, he shouted to the bride during the ceremony “have you hired another photographer?” where she replied “No calm down”. During the ceremony everything was fine, but during the entrance of the couple to the dinner hall, the amateur tried to go closer to take some shots, again behind the photographer. Suddenly, the photographer grabbed the guy in front of all the guests and started shouting to him “you wanna fight me? I’ll f**** you up”. The scene was very awkward and the bride’s sister tried to calm the photographer down.
    I couldn’t believe what I had just saw. A photographer who was willing to ruin a wedding just because a guy with an DSLR was also shooting as everyone was shooting with their point & shoot cameras. I learned later that the photographer has a reputation as a photographer for greek fashion magazines. I couldn’t explain his behavior, as I couldn’t understand that such an accomplished photographer, was afraid of an amateur one. Or maybe he wasn’t that much accomplished after all.

  • guest

    lol isn’t the point of having a pro–or at least, some designated photographer–to ensure that everyone can actually experience the wedding?

  • Mark

    Well, not to defend that unprofessional behavior, but when it’s hard to put food on the table for your family because your profession is overrun by amateurs, it takes a lot of discipline to keep that frustration in.

  • Shadow Girl

    I remember one of the weddings I was the photographer at, the family of the bride walked into my shots, walked in front of me to take their photos with their digicams. The groom told them not to. They continued to do so. It ruined half the shots because the bride’s family just would not get the hint. Anyway, I hope they got some good shots, that I couldn’t get. We did sneak the bride and groom away to the park and had some peace there and some great shots there, as well as the reception. I don’t mind people taking photos, but they need to stay out of the way of the professional.

  • ProtoWhalePig

    So you’re saying everyone should drop a coupl thou on the pro’s pics?

  • guest

    I reiterate: “or at least, some designated photographer”. you’re kind of missing the point.

  • dollythesheep

    Whilst I don’t agree with the alleged behaviour of the photographer, I agree with his sentiment toward being shadowed by an enthusiastic amateur. It is very off putting for professionals after all if you took your car in for a service would you wander around in your overalls and tool kit watching everything the technician did on your car?

  • dollythesheep

    Know what you mean. I packed in wedding photography and not a moment too soon. My blood pressure is now normal and so is my brain.

  • Renato Murakami

    It’s becoming increasingly bad…
    I don’t even care about the amateur photographer x pro photographer dispute.
    This is something the couple will decide.
    But it saddens me quite a lot the perception and scenario that big events will now be riddled with people with a dumb face staring at their smartphones instead of paying attention to the most crucial parts of the ceremonies.
    Instead of emotional looks and celebration when the bride makes her entrance, you’ll have a wall of smartphones and (God forbid) tablets in front of people’s face, like the guests were some sort of drones lacking any emotion or consideration.
    And for what? Some tweet or facebook post like “hey look, I’m on a wedding, here are some crappy pics of it” no one will pay attention to, or if they do it’ll be forgotten as quickly as it disappears into the timeline?
    Quite frankly, it looks pathetic and will be registered as an important event in someone’s album, the throng of people with cameras up that is.
    Among the important jobs of pro photographers in wedding is: Disappear. You’re never there. No camera gear in sight. It’s a moment immortalized in time.

    Since people can’t help their addiction to social media oversharing and stuff like that, I think weddings will soon have dedicated time slots for instagrammers and others. Or will read on invitations “please avoid taking photos or videos during the ceremony – we have professionals for that and we want you – not your smartphone/camera – to be in them”. Sad.

  • D4Shooter

    It’s not just point and shots anymore. I did a wedding where two different friends thought it was a good idea to video the wedding with IPads. At the reception, they got bold and got out of their seats to get first dance, parent dance, and cutting the cake. We (the videographer and I) finally got the wedding planner to make them stay in their seats for the toss.

  • Greko

    The hired photographer gets paid (which means that his work is appreciated), the amateur does it for fun. I don’t see the reason for this behavior. And let’s say the couple can afford and want 3 or 4 photographers to shoot their wedding. What’s wrong with this if all of them get paid. It’s not a contest.

  • jdm8

    The metaphor doesn’t fit. One person taking a photograph while trying to stay out of another’s way is not interfering in the way two mechanics might interfere on a car. It sounds more like a photographer was jealously protecting their turf, and frankly responded in a completely unjustifiable and unprofessional way.

  • jdm8

    I think there will need to be ground rules. If the planners are not careful to set up reasonable ground rules, too many photographers at a wedding will have the effect of too many cooks in the kitchen, ruining everyone’s time and a lot of photos.

    What those ground rules generally be, will probably be in flux.