I received an email from a frustrated photographer this week. This past weekend she photographed a wedding. As she started setting up for the formals, the “paparazzi” started setting up too, with cameras flying out of purses and bags all over the church. She spent several minutes posing the groups, only to step back and have family members actually step into her path trying to get the best shot. Every image took a ton of time, and by the middle of the formals, the bride and groom were looking frustrated. Every image has someone looking away from her camera, confused on where to look.
How do you handle too many photographers at the wedding?
First and foremost, remember you are the professional. It’s your job to take the situation under control, and make sure you get what you need. Your client is the bride and groom (okay, sometimes it’s the brides mom too). Your goal is to make the bride and groom happy, not the great aunt on the mom’s side.
The problem shouldn’t be solved at the wedding; it should be solved at the time of booking.
Start with your contract. Place a clause specifically dealing with multiple photographers right into your contract. (check with your lawyer to make sure you are covered) Our included:
… will be the sole professional still photographer employed for the wedding day. Simultaneous photographic coverage by another contracted photographer releases us from this agreement and will cause a forfeit of all paid service fees. A $250 posing fee will be assessed if we are continually interrupted by other photographers during the formal portraiture sitting. This fee will be collected before album creation and design is completed within our studio.
Don’t hide the clause hoping they won’t notice; be right up front with it and tell them why. You may even have a sample – we did. Show them a large group photo with people looking in all directions. Having 10 (or 20) photographers is a distraction and will cause them to be late to their own reception. If they want their photographs completed in a timely manner, you need full attention.
This usually stops the problem before the wedding even occurs. You may still have a mom pull out her camera, but she’s off to the side quietly photographing. And if you do have several pull out their cameras, stepping into your line, the bride and groom will be the first to tell them to put the cameras away. You won’t be the bad guy – they will. They will understand the importance of having you work quickly, and will be ready to give you their full attention.