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3 wedding photography pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

Sep . 05 . 2011
Guests often think they’re doing you a favor by trying to get “extra shots”. (in case you were wondering – that’s a guest....
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Guests often think they’re doing you a favor by trying to get “extra shots”.
(in case you were wondering – that’s a guest. Not a 2nd photographer. And she had asked, and we said ok.).


Congratulations, you just got engaged! You’re now navigating a sea of inquiries to vendors, managing expectations from family and friends, dodging sensitive guest invitation questions… and along the way, you might make a mistake or two. Here are 3 common wedding photography pitfalls not to fall for:

1. The mystery 2nd photographer

Many photographers add an extra $400-$500 for a second photographer. Some call it indispensable, a must have, etc. Truth is, you may or may not need a second photographer. Ideally, you’re paying for an expert, a craftsman, another unique artistic eye. Not just a flash holder. So when you decide you’d love that 2nd expert eye, ask your main photographer to meet them before the wedding. The #1 pitfall is that you’ve hired a photographer and they tell you they know all about their second photographer, but in reality, they’re posting an ad on Craiglist that looks like this:

(this is an *actual* ad on Craiglist. I didn’t make that up. Sad huh?)

That’s right. You’ve worked so hard to get that photographer, looked through their portfolio, checked out their reviews, talked with previous brides… you basically trusted them with your special day, and they turn around and go on Craiglist to find a total stranger they’ve never met to get them to show up to your wedding for $20/hour. That is probably the biggest heartbreak – you’ve invested so much time and trust, and that photographer is inviting a total stranger to save a few bucks. No idea what their background is, if they’re professional, if they will stay out of the way; no idea if they’ll just show up at all, or get drunk. All they care about is, $20/h.

How to avoid that pitfall: simple – ask to meet that 2nd photographer ahead of time, and to guarantee that person will be there. Ask for that person’s portfolio, ask if they’ve worked together before, and if you have the bandwidth, ask to talk to a bride that had that 2nd photographer be part of her wedding.

Our promise: Sphynge Photography is a husband & wife team. We’ve worked together before. Promise ;-) Come see us and ask to see our photos!


2. Underestimating how much time your photographer needs

You’re looking at your wedding day schedule and thinking, oh man, I thought I had the WHOLE DAY! How come it looks like there’s no time? Well, I guess the photographer will just need 20min after the ceremony to get all the group shots in. Should be okay, right?

Well… hold that thought. While a photographer takes 1 second to click on the shutter button, Aunt Annie may take longer than that to *get ready* for the shot. And that’s where it all falls apart. You’ve just said your “I dos”, and you’re thinking about partying. Some guests are thinking about coming to hug you (actually, many guests will think about hugging you and congratulating you), some guests will think about getting a cocktail, and a couple are thinking about a quick trip to the bathroom, or a quick diaper change if they have infants. And that’s where the group shots don’t exactly work out the way you anticipated. One person from the first group is missing and you’re trying to look at the crowd to find them; your mom is insisting we move to her side of the family, and yes we’re ready except Uncle Bill is just coming back from the bathroom (“I swear, he was right there a second ago”). Before you know it, you’re being called for the reception, and you haven’t even done your bride & groom only photos. You ask your photographer to take a couple on the way, and hope for the best. 3 months later, you turn around and say “I wish we would’ve done more photos of just to two of us”. Then guests email you “Do you have photos with us too?” – and the answer is no; they blame the photographer.

How to avoid that pitfall: talk about scheduling with your photographer very early on. They’ve been through a few weddings, and they should have a pretty good idea, depending on location and guest count, how much time they need to deliver the gorgeous photos you’ll want to hang and show off forever. Get the group shots very close to the ceremony site, and choose a location that’s much farther away for your couple shots, or you’re likely to be interrupted by a flurry of guests who want “just this one shot”, and some who “just have a quick question”.

When you book a wedding with Sphynge Photography, we meet before the wedding to iron out all the details and help you figure out where you can build buffers to get the show going and get amazing photographs.


3. Forgetting to tell guests to take their flash off

In this day and age, everyone has a camera. In their pocket. On their neck. Not yet implanted in their eye – but you know what I mean. Most churches will have the “official” photographer sign a paper that binds them by contract to not use a flash. And I’m always happy to sign that contract – my Nikon D3s can basically shoot at night without a flash. Where we get in trouble is, the guests haven’t signed a contract. The church coordinator cannot possibly talk to every single guest walking into the church. And during the ceremony, a bunch of flashes go off. Not from the photographer – from the guests. The coordinator can’t interrupt the ceremony to talk to guests in the middle of the church. And there you have it: your “I do” photos are ruined by a guest’s flash. You can’t do anything in photoshop to get those photos back – they’re 100% white. They’re just plain ruined. That’s right – the thousands of dollars you’ve just spent on the awesomest photographer you have ever heard of are completely annihilated by one of your dear friend’s eagerness to remember this moment.

How to avoid that pitfall: email your guests ahead of time and tell them very clearly that they cannot use their camera unless their flash is turned off. It is a hassle, but it’s going to save your wedding photos, I promise you that. Brownie points for having family members be your eyes and ears during the ceremony and politely telling other guests they can’t take photos with the flash on. And if the guest doesn’t know how to do that? Explain to them very nicely that the photographer will share all the photos they’ve taken with their expensive camera, and that you’d love to have them enjoy the ceremony rather than be distracted (or cause other guests a distraction) with their camera.


(think these are from experience? – check out this photo, straight off the camera. Hint: my flash didn’t go off.)


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About Kelsey

Kelsey is the head photographer of Sphynge Photography boutique. We've been crafting artistic, painting-inspired photographs for clients around the world since 2005. Thanks for perusing - we can't wait to talk to you!
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