With over 2 million weddings taking place each year nationwide, there are over 2 million opportunities to make mistakes-countless pitfalls just waiting for the unsuspecting wedding photographer to stumble into. Sure, they seem harmless, until you realize the danger they impart to you and your business. I don’t want you to be just another wedding photographer statistic, so, I’ve compiled a list of my top ten things a photographer should never do while photographing a wedding. If you recognize yourself in any of these, don’t beat yourself up. Remember, it hurts to grow. Now, let’s begin…
10. Do not dance at the reception.
Yes, we know, you hear the music pumping and you feel the need to prove that you have rhythm, but you were hired to photograph the blissful joining of a couple as they embark on their lifelong journey together, not to get your “freak on” with the wedding party.
9. Guys only tip: Do not refer to the bride, bridesmaid, mother of the bride, grandmother of the bride, or basically ANY female at the wedding as “beautiful.”
This is not to say that you can not tell them they look beautiful, but when that word is used in lieu of their name over and over again, the lack of sincerity starts to drip faster than my nose during allergy season.
“Move over here, beautiful.”
“Let me fix your hair, beautiful.”
“Lift your chin just a bit, beautiful.”
Oh sure, the first time you hear it, it’s a little flattering. Charming, even. After the twentieth time, it just gets downright creepy.
8. Do not, under any circumstances, kick off your shoes.
Listen, I know how it feels after standing for hours; your feet hurt; your calves ache. The shoes that were so comfortable 8 hours ago now feel like bear traps on your feet. You long to remove your shoes and let those little piggies roam free. And you can, just as soon as you’re done. Heck, you can even take them off en route to the car, just do not remove them at the reception. This is not the time to chillax, bro. Speaking of chillaxin’…
7. Do not feel the need to recite every entry from the Urban Dictionary to establish a cool wedding photog reputation, yo!
“Fab!” “Duuuude!” “Bro!” “Delish!” “Gorg!” While all wonderful words to use in a high school lunch room, or, like if, OMG-you’re shopping at the mall in the valley, they might not be the best if you want to establish a professional credibility at a wedding. For reals.
6. Do not say “This is only the third wedding I’ve photographed, so I’m a little nervous.”
We all start somewhere. We all have to gain experience. But if you’re going to make a statement like this, you might as well stick a button on your shirt that says, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” A client will have as much confidence in you as you have in yourself. You can let your nerves run the full course of your body. You can use them to keep you alert and focused and thinking about your next move. But you do NOT have to make a Public Service Announcement at the wedding.
5. Do not share technical problems with the wedding party.
Let’s face it, stuff is going to happen. Problems will arise. Equipment will break, lenses will lock, lights will refuse to fire, and you will panic. No matter how seasoned of a wedding photographer you are, a lens that locks up in the middle of an event will give you the same sensation as if you swallowed an ice cube. But no matter what the problem, it is YOURS, not the couple’s. The last thing a bride wants to hear on her wedding day is, “WTF? Hold on everybody! My lens locked up and I’ve got to switch everything over now, so it’s gonna be a few minutes. I can not believe this is happening. I mean, come on!” Yeah, brides really love that…not. Just switch to your backup plan and move on. You do have a backup plan, right?
4. Do not drink alcoholic beverages.
You know that feeling when you’re photographing a wedding reception and the day has been warm and long and you’re now at the reception and everyone is walking around with cold beers and a groomsman walks up to you and says, “Hey, let me get you a drink?” Do not do it, unless you are okay with earning the title, “the tipsy photographer.” I know the temptation is great, and beyond a shadow of a doubt, you deserve a cold one, but not then and not there. Do what everyone else does and hit up Applebee’s on your way home.
3. Do not fuss with the wedding coordinator.
I have seen many a photographer tangle with the all powerful wedding coordinator and go down in a brilliant bright flame. Wedding coordinators know people, the same people that will or won’t refer you in the future. Does this mean you should never speak up if something is hindering you from getting what the client wants? No, of course not, but speak in kindness and consider the consequences. On second thought, don’t do it. When considering arguing with a wedding coordinator, I will tell you what I tell my kids when they feel like being sassy, “Do not start-you will. not. win.”
2. Do not wear low rise pants.
Do I really even need to explain this one?
1. Do not try to be the life of the party.
Unless you are up on the altar marrying the person you love most in the world, this day is not about you. Not even close. You are not the court jester or the stand up comedian-you are a professional wedding photographer who, although fun and enthusiastic, is not there to entertain the masses. You are there to create compelling, emotional, beautiful images. If the spotlight is on YOU, you’re doing it wrong.
Now, remember what I told you and go have fun.
Image credits: Photo illustration created with Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbeth – 10 mph sign by ell brown and first dance ever by grenade, Champagne with cassis by andybullock77, Spotlight on Michael Buble’s second stage at Rod Laver arena. by smjbk