I’m about to write something that might be a bit controversial to the more traditional wedding photographers out there. Weddings are not about wedding photography. Sorry to tell you this, but in the scheme of the wedding day, you are hugely unimportant. Weddings are about two people getting married in front of their friends and family and then (hopefully) partying like it’s 1999. As for you, dear wedding photographer; you are just one of the suppliers helping turn the wheels.
Yes, yes, of course I know that after all’s said and done, the photographs will be the lasting memory of their wedding day, and they are probably paying you a significant part of their wedding budget to do a fantastic job. They are also paying you to leave your ego at home and do whatever it takes to make their wedding day run just how they imagine. No matter how much they’re paying you, no bride and groom wants to hang out with their wedding photographer all day. No-one wants to spend hours and hours having group shots until their faces freeze in a rictus grin. And no bride and groom wants to feel hounded and shadowed all day.
Going back a few years to when wedding photographs generally were limited to the group shots and portraits after the ceremony, yes, the wedding photographer in those days was a bossy, overbearing sort who needed to get everything organised quick smart. Like the registrars, they were most likely off to cover another wedding or two that day. Those days have long gone for us photographers, and whilst springing into action during the group shots is key in order to make sure that these run efficiently, once those are done you need to melt into the background and just let the wedding day happen around you. Observe and document. And most importantly, don’t be self important. This isn’t your gig, this is the bride and groom’s. Be humble, be respectful and always act with kindness to whoever who speak to.
I delivered an album to a client yesterday, who told me that so many of her guests had said to her that they were amazed that photographs of themselves had been taken, ‘because I was sure that the photographer wasn’t even in the room!’. For me, that’s the important bit. People want to relax and enjoy a wedding day, and it’s my job to facilitate that in any way I can (as well as getting the most flattering shot of them that I can). I’m not there to make them perform for me like trained monkeys.
And finally – remember about leaving that ego at home. So you might have photographed at this particular wedding venue many times before and are itching to get different shots, because – oh, the same bridal poses in the same old locations are JUST REALLY BORING YOU. But, just stop and think. This is (probably) the first time these people have got married, and certainly the first time at this venue. Those locations might be old hat to you, but they are most likely the places they’ve dreamt of being photographed. So, stop and look at your photography through the eyes of your clients. What do THEY want? How do THEY dream of being photographed? It doesn’t matter if it’s a shot you’ve done before, does it? Miss out that shot with the big house in the background (because it’s SO overdone) and your clients might well be bitterly disappointed. And after all, happy clients are the lifeblood of your business.
So next time you photograph a wedding, check yourself. Am I being egotistical? Am I frankly being a pain in the ass? Because unless that’s written in your bio on your website, that’s certainly not what your clients have booked you for 🙂