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Have you ever been photographing a wedding, when in walks Uncle Bob with a massive camera rig, and sets up right at the end of the aisle? Guest photographers can be a serious problem for professional photographers. Recently, Sophia had this exact experience at an unplugged wedding ceremony. She had to diplomatically convince the man to put his gear away. Thankfully, the bride had been very clear prior to the wedding that no guests were allowed to be taking photos, so Sophia felt 100% confident relaying this message. But when she told the guest that the bride would be mad if he was taking photos he said, "She won't be mad at me. I've done this before." Though it took some creative fenagling, some stubbornness, and some reiteration, the man did ultimately spend the ceremony in his seat.

Here's our best advice for dealing with characters like this:

  1. Have a conversation with your clients. While you might have a clause in your contract stating that there will be no other cameras present at every wedding you photograph, it is best practice to discuss this policy with your clients, because they might have different expectations. Know whether they want their family and friends to take photos, whether they want their family and friends to stay seated, or whether they want absolutely no electronics in the hands of their guests.
  2. Make a point to introduce yourself to other photographers and amateur photographers. Often couples will warn photographers of family members and friends who work in the field or who are die-hard hobbiests, because they tend to bring their cameras everywhere. With a clear understanding of your clients' camera policy, shake hands with each of these people. Often with a simple friendly discussions they'll say something like, "I don't want to be in your way. Just let me know if I'm blocking you," or will completely stay out of your path.
  3. Offer to hire amateur photographers for the day. If your clients say that there will be another photographer present who will be taking photos because "they're just starting out and want to get some porftolio shots and experience," offer to hire them for the day! Reach out to these guests prior to the ceremony, invite them to meet with you before-hand, and come up with a plan for how you can work together. This will give them real experience, you might pick up a future employee, and you'll have more photos to add to the clients' album.
  4. Stay positive, be courteous, and smile. Or as Petro says, don't be a rockstar. Throwing a fit and storming out of the wedding because Aunt Edna stood in front of you for the kiss will only give you a reputation of being a diva, and that will not bode well for future business.

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Thanks to Benjamin Edward for our artwork and Bensound for our theme music.

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