Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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This issue is most prevalent in Wedding photography. An example would be when a Wedding photographer has to avoid family members or other guests who are aggressively taking pictures around them during a wedding. Is finding a way to make your way around other people taking pictures part of being a professional photographer or is this simply something that should be set up beforehand (for example, in the contract stating something like "no other photography should take place during event").

So again, should maneuvering around other people taking pictures be a skill that a professional photographer learns or is it simply an administrative task that should take place beforehand as part of the original agreement?

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Similarly see photo.stackexchange.com/questions/11977/… –  rfusca Jul 2 '11 at 5:07
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But isn't guests taking amateurish pictures rather an integral part of the wedding event? Shouldn't the hired photographer also document e.g. the uncles and cousins taking their own group photos? Formal portraits and group shots aside, should the pro photographer document the event as an utopia where there are no amateur photographers around or the event and the guests as they are? (Just some ideas good to think through while developing own photographic style — not trying to tackle your question.) –  koiyu Jul 2 '11 at 10:46
    
@koiyu: If the photographing guests are really part of the event, then the photographere surely will document it. IMHO the most (!) shutterbugs on such events do distract from the event solely for their own satisfaction, because they want to produce own memories and either can't wait for the couple to hand out photos or can't live with the picture-less utopia the couple might dream of. (We asked our wedding-guests to leave their cameras at home because we had a professional for the vows and some designated amateurs for the party. I always ask before a wedding if I'm allowed to take photos.) –  Leonidas Jul 2 '11 at 16:19
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I'm an hobby photographer, but for any type of special event, I would want to hire a professional so I didn't have to deal with it; however, if you dictate that no other attendees can take pictures at my event I would find another photographer in a heartbeat. –  Nate Jul 25 '11 at 16:52
    
well all that you said are very correct, a professional photographer should be smarter than all, as this also bring about caring a better camera which is better than that of non professional photographer. pray to God for grace and favour so that no one will disturb you during the programme and if they come something will happen to their camera either the batry dai or something. make friend with them and put yourself incharge so that when you speak or command they will all obey you. Take the lead during the programme, be the commader in charge. –  user8111 Jan 16 '12 at 1:15

7 Answers 7

Yes and no.

I'm a professional event photographer and I run into this fairly frequently. I don't work a lot of weddings but I do many conferences and other less formal events where there are often other amateur/attendee photographers during an event.

A skilled professional will be able to maneuver amongst a crowd including a crowd that involves other photographers. For many events, there are many possible photo angles and I rarely run into an issue where I have a conflict over physical space with other photographers.

That said, my contracts always address the issue of exclusivity / priority. The contract specifies whether I'm the exclusive photographer, or perhaps it will specify that I'm the sole professional photographer but there is an understanding that other persons may have cameras. I have a discussion with the client and we come to an understanding that if needed, I may ask attendees or amateurs to move so that I may perform my job. Being able to do this discreetly and with some tact is a great client relations skill.

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Exactly what I was thinking, yes a pro will deal with it, and yes your contract should include it. It is no different then dealing with the weather, the venue, etc! It's all part of being a pro! –  dpollitt Jul 25 '11 at 15:06

I'm not a photog pro (let alone a Wedding photog pro), but I think that in a world where every phone is a camera, and almost every camera around is a phone, it is non-realistic to put such a phrase ("no other photography should take place during event") in the contract.

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Furthermore it is not realistic (and maybe also not right!) to think that friends and relatives will accept not to take THEIR personal souvenirs of a wedding, which could be a nice gift for the couple, too... –  Francesco Jul 2 '11 at 5:38
    
It is also completely impossible even from a theoretical POV since only parties signing a contract can be bound to it. –  blubb Jul 2 '11 at 10:20
    
@SS depending on the law of the land, the other guests could legally be considered signing partners or not. –  jwenting Jul 2 '11 at 13:53
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There is a difference between having a camera and taking it out to snap pictures in a situation where a professional already does for the couple and you. And yes, an invitee of course accepts a kind of contract by accepting the invitation. Bluntly put: "your party, your rules". –  Leonidas Jul 2 '11 at 16:29
    
then again, it's highly unlikely the guests would have so review the contract between the pro and the hosts before being allowed to attend... –  jwenting Jul 7 '11 at 5:21

Sometimes you can piggy-back on a guest taking a photo to get something a little bit different yourself. At the last wedding I shot, I noticed one of the guests taking a portrait shot of the bride and groom on her point and shoot.

With my long lens on, and over her shoulder, I focused on the LCD on the back of her camera and, with a wide aperture, took a picture of her picture, with the bride and groom nicely blurred out in the background. Worked quite well.

I think working around the guests at an event like a wedding is largely inevitable, but I do make a point when taking any group shots is to ask people to look not only into the camera, but into MY camera (in case there's anyone standing beside me I haven't noticed)

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I have taken a few shots like this. Photography is a big part of a wedding, not just the official photographer, but lots of guests like to take their own photos and I encourage this. –  Graeme Hutchison Jan 16 '12 at 12:43
    
+1 for 'look into MY camera'!!! –  huzzah Jul 18 '12 at 19:45

Set and Enforce Expectations

My experience of shooting weddings is limited, but I have never had a problem with guests getting in the way. On the contrary, I find that guests are very respectful of me (or whoever is the official photographer).

If there is a problem, I find that simply asking respectfully but confidently is enough to get things moving again.

A couple of ideas:

  • Discuss the issue with your clients during the planning stages
  • If there are any problems on the day, address the crowd and say something like: "I need 10 minutes to get these shots, then you can have your turn".
  • You can increase engagement with any troublesome guests while getting them out of your way by saying "if you stand just over there, you'll get some great shots that I won't get, cos I'm over here"

On a practical note, putting something in a contract won't make it happen per se, but it might make the clients think about it so they're not totally surprised when you ask guests to move.

A suggestion for weddings: work smarter - get the ushers to do crowd control for you; it's what they're there for. (do you have ushers in the rest of the world? we have them in the UK, and they're very useful).

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I shoot a lot of events and weddings.

These are times when family and friends will want to also take photographs. This of course is not a problem. I have been in their shoes a few times and who wouldn't want to take photos at this time.

Normally guests taking pictures is not a worry for me. Firstly most people with a point and shoot just want a quick snap and nothing more. But every now and then I will get someone following me around standing in my shadows which can be annoying, or I get people standing in front of me when I am taking group shots and or bride/groom posed shots.

At this point I will speak to the person, and say

"The bride and groom have asked me to take these photographs, would you mind stepping to one side until the official one has been taken, after that point you can take as many as you like"

They will normally stop and do as they are asked, the tip here is to say that the bride and groom/ event organisers have asked you to do the job, so it sounds like the orders are coming from them and not you/me the photographer. It makes for a good resolution to people in the way without causing friction or tension, which rather spoils the occasion for the people involved.

It can be hard sometimes to remember that a wedding day is special for everyone there, even if you are not involved or know the guests, it is still a special day, and every wedding/event should be treated in that way

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well said. I've had a situation once where the groom's parents had hired a photographer who was a major pain (constantly disrupting my shots, etc., I'd been hired by the bride and groom themselves). Wasn't nice, they didn't want to upset their parents by sending the guy packing. Eventually he did move to the background after a quiet chat with someone. –  jwenting Jan 18 '12 at 6:23

There was a tip I heard from a podcast (Photo Focus) that seems to work well in these situations. If the amateurs are getting in the way, have a game of sorts with them. Let them take as many pictures as they want for, say, a minute, then you take charge for a minute. When you are in charge, they aren't to be taking pictures. This will help keep any feelings from being hurt, but will still allow for you to get the shots you need.

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What happens when a critical shot is in their minute? –  rfusca Jul 25 '11 at 14:58
    
Well, this applies for the pictures after. During the moment, the professional should have the power to move people around to get the shot. –  PearsonArtPhoto Jul 25 '11 at 18:51

I'm not a professional photographer, but I do have this to say: In general, the primary concern here is interference with the pro's job. I did run into a professional photographer who had put up a sign requesting that no one else take photographs in the area, but I spoke with him and he said that as long you don't disrupt what he's doing, it's okay to take pictures.

Something like this in the contract would be a good idea (note that IANAL):

The Professional Photographer has priority in taking photographs at the event. Guests may take their own photographs at the event, as long as you take reasonable measures to ensure that such photography does not interfere with the Professional Photographer's activities. You understand that the Professional Photographer may request that guests yield to him/her, as necessary.

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