One of the Biggest Wedding Photography Mistakes a Bride Can Make

Hint: It has nothing to do with your wedding dress.

Hint: It has nothing to do with your wedding dress.

This isn't a rant. I promise. I'm writing this out of my honest concern for my wedding photography clients. I have photographed too many weddings in which this mistake has been made. What's the mistake? Guest photographers. I'm not talking about the occasional iPhone photo. I'm talking about the Uncle Tom's and the Cousin Jane's that are "interested in photography" and they literally bring their pro DSLR with a 70-200mm zoom lens to take photos during the ceremony - I have seen this exact scenario happen. 

The 70-200mm. See? That's a big ol' lens!

The 70-200mm. See? That's a big ol' lens!

Brides, you are doing yourself a disservice by allowing this to happen. Here's why:

Many of your wedding photos will have guests with cameras glued to their faces in them. This has happened and there's nothing I can do about it. While I work hard to make sure my second shooter is not in any of your wedding photos, I don't have the luxury of worrying about guest photographers. There are too many important moments that last mere seconds and if a guest is in the background with the camera, I would rather take the photo from where I am standing and have that guest in the picture rather than miss the moment altogether. It's the lesser of two evils. 

The flashes on guests' cameras interfere with our photos. We use high end external flashes that bounce off of the ceiling and fall back down on our subjects in order to create soft light. Low end cameras have pop up flashes that shine a bright, harsh burst of light on subjects. When those flashes are going off at the time time as ours, we might as well not be using flashes. Our photos will have the harsh shadows of a pop up flash. 

This was shot with an external flash bounced off the ceiling. You can hardly tell a flash was used at all. 

This was shot with an external flash bounced off the ceiling. You can hardly tell a flash was used at all. 

It is extremely distracting. When I am taking photos, especially those of the bride and groom and the full wedding party, I need to get into a flow in order to get the best photos and to make the right creative decisions. If I am worried about someone standing behind me, snapping photos over my shoulder, I will not get into this flow. It's also distracting for my subjects. They won't know where to look (at me or at the guest photographer) and they won't know who to take direction from. There is extremely limited time on a wedding day to capture the moments that I need to capture. I need every second of that time so I can give my clients the best photos. 

It can be a breach of contract. It is written expressly in my contract (that all of my clients sign) that I don't allow anyone to photograph poses that I have arranged. Why? Because it's half of my artwork....the other half is the actual photo. It took creativity, knowledge of my equipment, studying the light, and lots of experience to arrive at that pose in that location. Please don't steal it. 

I have no problem with guests using their phones or small point and shoot cameras to take photos occasionally. I would never want to restrict that because many of the shots they get will be candid and from angles I couldn't get to. This will provide the bride with a lot of great memories. The real issue is when family photographers bring along hefty, professional equipment that rivals that of the actual professional and in doing so, they prevent me from doing my job. 

You hired me to document your wedding in a beautiful, creative way. There is nothing I appreciate more than when I feel you have complete trust in me and my abilities as a wedding photographer. And there's nothing I dislike more than feeling replaceable. So please, allow me to do the job that you are paying me to do and I promise your wedding photos will be timeless, classic, and romantic.  

Kayla SmithComment