Wedding Photographers: Respect yourself and your clients
This weekend I was at a wedding. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome, and the ceremony touching. The only thing that marred the special day was the wedding photographers. I found them to be blatantly unprofessional as well as showing no respect for the church, wedding party, and guests. Years ago I did some wedding photography and their behavior would never have been tolerated in any church and would have resulted in them being banned from ever working a wedding there again.
First their attire. Yoga pants and sneakers may be great for running out to do some shopping at Walmart, but they have no place in any ceremony at a church. Maybe it would be fine at a wedding chapel in Las Vegas, but outside of that how about dressing professionally? Men, if you don’t suit up at least wear a dress shirt, pants, and shoes and a tie goes without saying. Ladies, while a dress may not be practical, at the minimum professional slacks, blouse, etc. Anything less and you are showing no respect for the church and couple as well as telling others you have no respect for your job.
During the ceremony, remember you are in a church for a religious event. Show some respect! Check with the clergy before the ceremony to discuss your plans and their rules. Most will be very similar and a major one is almost always no flash during the ceremony. They’ll usually allow it when the wedding party enters the church but that’s about it. You step out into the aisle, take a picture of who is entering, and then step aside. Once all the wedding party has entered, guests should not even know you’re there. Turn the flash off for the ceremony. Before digital reached a high enough quality, all wedding photographs had long, fast lenses, used fast tungsten balanced film and still would sometimes need to push process the film. Today? There’s no need for any of that. A suitable long lens can be had for well under your fee for one wedding. Invest in it.
Family and friends have come to see the happy couple wed, not some unknown going all over the place like a paparazzi! Stay behind the guests. Use a long lens and even a tripod with remote release to take the pictures during the ceremony. Possibly move along the aisles or pews behind everyone but be discreet. Once again, all attention should be on the couple and you should not distract from it. Going up and down the main and side aisles during the ceremony should never be considered appropriate. If the couple wants pictures from the sides, either have additional photographers seated up front for that, or reenact the ceremony after.
On a technical note, back in the day, Hasselblad medium format cameras were the top for wedding photographers. With the square format, it made it easy for an on camera flash to be mounted high and stay above the lens to avoid side shadows. Those of us using 35mm, or 6×4.5 or 6×7 medium format would invest in a StroboFrame Press-T or similar flash bracket. Not only would it elevate the flash to help prevent red-eye but would quickly rotate when you turned the camera to a portrait orientation to keep the flash directly above the lens. Stroboframe still make quick flip brackets as well as many other manufacturers. Invest in one. Some pictures call for a portrait orientation. Don’t take it in a landscape format and crop. Your client deserves the highest resolution for the prints. Take the picture like it should be printed and do it right.
In short, have the right equipment for the job, dress professionally, show respect to the church, the couple, and their friends and family.