Harrowing Report Paints Bleak Picture for Wedding Photogs Amid COVID-19

The Texas Monthly has published a story highlighting an issue many photographers in the state are struggling with: being forced to choose between making money and putting themselves in harm’s way.

For photographers with health conditions, the stories shared in the report are harrowing. The first example paints the picture of a photographer who had no idea the groom was infected with COVID-19 where no one was wearing masks.

“Oh no no no, don’t freak out. He doesn’t have symptoms. He’s fine,” one bridesmaid told her.

Another seemed incredulous at the photographer’s anger. “I’m a teacher, I have fourteen students. If I’m willing to risk it, why aren’t you?”

The photographer who is a mother of three and has asthma a few days later started experiencing symptoms and tested positive. Prepared for this, she had already isolated herself, canceled her Thanksgiving plans, and sent her children to stay with relatives to avoid getting sick. When she informed the bride and groom that she had been infected, they reportedly did not care, did not compensate her for the test she had to take, and did not apologize for the situation.

According to the report, which is absolutely worth a read in its entirety, this experience has not been unusual for photographers in the state. Multiple others were interviewed anonymously for the report mention that there are some groups who are considerate, but many who are not. They retell similar experiences where wedding parties, guests, and even other vendors take no precautions against spreading the virus.

Many wedding photographers have struggled with rescheduled weddings for next year or straight up cancellations. Photographers that PetaPixel have spoken to have incredibly busy 2021 schedules and have to make due with significantly less work since the start of the pandemic. As wedding photography leans heavily towards seasonality, many of these photographers have had to find ways to make it a full year before their next paychecks.

That is the struggle many photographers are faced with, and those who were interviewed for the Texas Monthly piece may have continued to take jobs in 2020 because they did not have the luxury of making it through the next year financially otherwise. The situation in that state, which only required wedding venues to reduce planned capacities by half (instead of a 500 person wedding, it became a 250 person wedding, for example) did little to curb the spread of the virus.

Jon Lemon, a wedding photographer out of New York, says that he has largely been able to avoid gatherings like the ones described in the Monthly because of regulations in his state and the experiences of the residents.

“In NYC the restrictions came early and a large portion of people adhere to mask-wearing. I’ve had most of my clients reschedule for various reasons be it safety or travel or restrictions, but I have had a handful of weddings happen this summer and they were all fine,” Lemon tells PetaPixel. “Everything was outdoors, save for the last, which was 10 people in a church with tons of space. All of them were less than 50 people across the day, mostly with split crowds to spread that out. I was always masked and so were almost every single guest for most of the time, save for couples portraits and some select group photos.”

For photographers who have considerate guests living in states with stricter rules, it’s possible to have successfully covered weddings despite the pandemic.

“Overall I feel like the weddings that went forward this year that I photographed did so with safety as the first thing in mind, and all followed current local restrictions,” Lemon says.

But not all wedding photographers have been as fortunate. According to the Monthly’s report, a quick perusal #texaswedding on Instagram will lead to hundreds of recent uploads of mask-free weddings. While some are small and appear to be held safely, it doesn’t take too long to find photos of large bridal parties and indoor receptions that depict no masks or safety precautions. But in a state where there are few restrictions on gatherings while at the same time photographers have to make ends meet, anonymous complaints and stories like the ones shared through Texas Monthly may very well continue until the pandemic is behind us.

(via Texas Monthly)

Image credits: Header background photo by Andreas Rønningen