BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Maria Melnyk
 

Why don't brides cooperate?


Could someone out there help me calm down? I had a horribly frustrating weekend photographing weddings. This is something that constantly boggles my mind even after several hundred weddings.

Before a wedding, a bride will say she wants this or that type of photograph. I explain to her what's involved, meaning what I need and what I need her to do in order to be able to create the images she desires.

This is what I went through this past weekend with 3 separate weddings. One bride wanted a lot of posed photos at her home in black & white. About a year ago she showed me her mother's album with her elaborate wedding gown displayed in all kinds of wonderful ways. (Whoever took those photos 30 years ago was terrific!) She wanted the look duplicated exactly. I told her she would need to have a long train like her mother, long sleeves, a cathedral length veil, and a cascade bouquet. Plus, I needed a lot of time in her home to arrange all those poses and bring extra lighting. And I told her to not have her veil on right away because she wanted a photo of her mother holding it. OK, yes, yes, she said.
I get to her house the other day, she comes back from the hair salon almost 2 hours late with a tiny veil already plastered to her head, and by the time she gets dressed she leaves me with 10 minutes to do 2 hours of photographs, including the one with her mother holding the veil, and one with the flowers around her train! Well, her train was only 2 inches long, she had a very plain and strapless dress, and just a tiny hand-tied bouquet. I told her that we won't be able to do anything like what she wanted do to lack of time and lack of sufficient fabric on the dress. She almost had a fit, saying that as a professional photographer I'm supposed to be able to produce any kind of photo she wants. Well, I can't photograph a train and sleeves and veil when there are no train and sleeves and veil to photograph! And she told me she had to have lots of formal portraits before the reception. But when we got there, she didn't want to be pulled away from her guests. I set up my backdrop and lights for nothing.

The second bride was a Grace Kelly fan. She showed me a book of the Princess's wedding and wanted her ceremony photos to look just like that, and if I couldn't do it she would have to get another photographer no matter what the cost, because she absolutely had to have those kind of ceremony photos. I told her that she needs to choose a beautiful church or cathedral that has no photography restrictions so I can get up close. Well, she chose one of those plain, modern churches, and she knew ahead of time that the priest would make me stand in the back and not allow me to use flash. When I told her last month that I couldn't give her what she wanted, she asked the studio for a different photographer. She finally understood her mistake, but by then it was too late.

Now, we're at the reception. I'm doing a family portrait in the hallway with the videographer, and then I hear the D-J saying "1-2-3" for the bouquet toss! Why didn't ANYONE look to see if we were ready to photograph the thing, not the bride, nor the D-J, nor anyone? We had to ask them to repeat it!

The third bride wanted me to make sure I captured lots of candids of her laughing and having a good time. She also had a bunch of ethnic traditions throughout her wedding. But she didn't tell us about them, nor was she or anyone else facing the cameras while things were happening. And she never laughed once. We took a lot of photos and video of everyone's backs, the bride's non-smiling face, and I'm not looking forward to the day the she sees her proofs.

At the end of the evening they all apologized and said that I did a great job, but I'm still in shock. These are just a few examples. This stuff happens all the time.

Dear brides, why don't many of you listen to what we are telling you? Why don't you give us the time we need to do a wonderful job for you? Why don't you look to see that the photographer isn't in the bathroom before you do something important at your reception? Why don't you make sure your face will be seen by the camera when you're saying your vows? Why do you insist on certain photos, and then not provide the photo ops for us? We are not magicians; we can only photograph what actually takes place. If you want a picture of something that didn't happen, hire a painter.

I don't like to complain like this because I have a great deal of respect for my clients and get along very well with them. But I feel bad when I can't deliver what I was hired to do.


To love this question, log in above
8/2/2005 1:28:46 PM

 
  Maria that is too funny, sorry but I had to laugh. Make sure you note all the details, because you'll have a book to write someday.

I was hired as a thrid gun to help out because the main photographer was getting over chemo. Well, before the bride saw my photos, she complained to the boss that he brought 2 18yr olds along with him while he just sat around. That was the best wedding I ever photographed and she'll be sorry she ever complained. The photographer said that one of the guest already ordered over $700 worth of photos over the net. Sheesh


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 1:45:09 PM

 
Angela K. Wittmer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2003
  you did 3 weddings in one weekend? wow........you are brave!


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 2:12:17 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Maria,
I'm not a professional wedding photographer, so I'm just speculating here.

Maybe some brides aren't always making sure she's helping you get your job done because she's a little busy experiencing one of the most important, emotional, happy, scary days of her life. And don't take it personally, but you're just not at the top of her priority list.

Maybe she's busy thinking, "Will he love me when I'm fat?" or "I can't believe I'm doing this, his mother hates me." I've seen some brides so nervous they couldn't even remember the groom's name.

So let's just try to keep things in the proper perspective. They didn't show up so that you could photograph them. They showed up so that they could get married. To them, the rest is probably just a blur.

Best of luck delivering those proofs.


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 2:41:02 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Maria, your post is the perfect definition of Bridezilla! And you got 3 of them in one weekend? You have my sympathies.


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 2:47:53 PM

 
Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  CHRIS,
YOU HAVE A WAY OF PUTTING IT OUT THERE WITH A TAD OF HUMOR!LOL.
HE IS RIGHT ON THE MONEY, THOUGH.
IT'S HARD THINKING OF WANTING TO DO 3 WEDDINGS IN A WEEKEND-I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU FOUND THE TIME- BUT THAT IS DEFFINATLY THIER PROBLEM ALSO-
LIKE I HAVE SAID BEFORE WE ARE THERE TO CAPTURE HER MEMORIES-MAKE IT EASIER FOR HER, TO REMEMBER HER DAY.
I HAVE HAD BRIDES SAY"WOW, I DON'T REMEMBER THAT" MORE THEN ONCE- SO WITH EVERYTHING ELSE SHE HAS TO BE AND REMEMBER- YOU ARE SURE TO BE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST AND DEFFINATLY NOT AS IMPORTANT AS:HAIR ,MAKEUP AND SQUEEZING INTO THAT DRESS.
NEXT TIME YOU ARE FACED WITH THE CONTRACT MEETING PLEASE DON'T BE AFFRAID TO JUST SAY ,NO.
"I'M SORRY THAT IS MUCH TO MUCH TIME ON YOUR WEDDING DAY- HOW ABOUT SHOOTING THOSE BEFORE OR AFTER?"
IT GETS YOU OFF THE HOOK IF THEY PURSUE IT AND IF THINGS ARE THAT HECKTIC, THEN CHANCES ARE YOU CAN'T DO A VERY GOOD JOB EITHER- SO STAGING THOSE KIND OF DETAILED SHOTS ON ANOTHER DAY MAY BE IN BOTH OF YOUR BEST INTREST.
IT'S JUST A THOUGHT AND I AM VERY SORRY YOU HAD SUCH A BAD TIME,
DEBBY


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 3:54:51 PM

 
anonymous 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/7/2005
  I definitely think Bride number 1 was a "Bridezila", anyway, who puts flowers around the train these days? Very 80's. She definitely wasn't thinking rationally to expect you to take photos like her mums, when she didn't even wear a similar dress.

I don't think they realise how much times goes into setting up these photos, they think - your a pro - you can just "do it".

The other two:

I don't think they meant to be difficult on purpose. I got married 1.5 years ago, my day was a blur and I hardly remember seeing my photographer. There were a lot of photos I didn't get that I should of, but I should of explained that more to the photographer. Although I was disappointed we only got 1 small photo of my mother-in-law, I really didn't think I would need to make sure she got photos of her. But what made my day hectic, is that I was 30mins late to the church, cause I got black tyre grease all up the front of my dress, and I was standing on the driveway crying for 20mins wondering what I was going to do - I mean it was BAD!!!! My dress was so big, that my bridesmaid just pinned a big section together, so you couldn't see it. Everything was a wirlwind!!! But if and when our photographer asked us to do something we did it for her etc, but otherwise, I didn't even think about the photos (which is strange for me considering I love taking them)they were just the last thing on my mind. Especially when I was saying my VOWS!!!! I was concentrating more on making sure I said them loud enough, clear enough and that I said Christopher instead of Chris etc, I didn't even know where the photographer was in the church.


So when it comes to bride 2 and 3, don't take it personally, they aren't thinking about "where is the photographer". Like Chris said, they are thinking about other things.... like the wedding night......getting the hubby to under 100 pearl buttons.... LOL!


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 7:24:35 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Good one, Natalie! So your hubby is also a Christopher? Only my Mom called me Christopher, and that was only if I was in trouble. ;-)

Talk about nervous, our priest decided it would be nice if we memorized our vows instead of having him say them for us to repeat. I was sure I would mess them up. The videographer had a wireless mike in my lapel, so you can hear us very clearly on the video. Father Ronnie was right, it sounded much better memorized.

13 years and I can still recite them.


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 8:00:00 PM

 
anonymous 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/7/2005
  Oh, that is just too cute "13 years and I can still recite them".

Yep, hubby is a Christopher, or a Chris, or a Chrissy (but he hates it!) or even Pissed as a Fart.... did you ever get that one?


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 8:01:37 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  I don't blame him a bit for hating being called Chrissy. And no, I'm quite sure I've never been called the last one! ;-)


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 8:14:10 PM

 
anonymous 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/7/2005
  LOL! Must be an Aussie thing, if you say it fast enough it sounds like Christopher!


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 8:18:56 PM

 
Tammy L. Odell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2004
  Well Maria, I can sympathize with you a bit. I did a wedding this weekend and the weekend before and they were both the most rushed I have ever done. I did miss out on some great shots with one bride because she didn't want to take an another 15 minutes or so to do more photos of her and her groom. I had quite a few, but not the kind she expects and I like to give. I explained to her I didn't feel like I had enough of her and her groom, and she understood that. Her mother even apologized to me after the reception for being such a pain..she rushed and bossed...I know the day is a blur and it is always so crazy, but in a year when they look back at their wedding album they will be thinking about, why did I not get a photo of so and so, instead of making sure they hugged every single guest at the wedding reception. It's not like I was asking for 30 mins or even an hour!! 10 would have been great!!! Now my next wedding is in Sept and I plan to sit with the bride and explain all of this to her. We did speak of it some and she understands. But I want to make sure she does. I know I probably sound a bit selfish, but if someone hires me to do a job, they need to understand I need cooperation to deliver the goods!!! I think better communication will help my future weddings. I think weddings will always be rushed and hurried and It is my choice to do them, so I will just have to deal and hope for the best!!! And I still have some wonderful shots even if it was not ideal conditions.

Just for future referance, does anyone have a guess on just how long is proper to spend doing photos after the ceremony and before the reception?

Sorry you had a hard time, but you are not alone!!! And I bet things could be ALOT worse!!!


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 8:20:57 PM

 
anonymous 
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/7/2005
  Usually here in Australia the bridal party spends about 1-2 hours with the photographer between the ceremony and the reception. This is when all the "posed" and "necessary" shots are taken.


To love this comment, log in above
8/2/2005 9:04:01 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   "But what made my day hectic, is that I was 30mins late to the church, cause I got black tyre grease all up the front of my dress, and I was standing on the driveway crying for 20mins wondering what I was going to do - I mean it was BAD!!!! "

That's why I carry sofr white chalk when I go to shoot a wedding. Believe me, it works.


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 7:44:00 AM

 
Laura E. OConnor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/12/2005
  Tammy, I think at my wedding we spent about an hour while everyone else went to a cocktail hour at the reception location.

Kerry, White chalk? Really? How does that work? I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever decide to do weddings! That and black and white thread and needle, face powder etc! Any other tips or tricks for weddings? I'd love to learn them from some seasoned pros!


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 8:10:03 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Believe me, I can shoot pictures a little better than I can type (sofT chalk, not sofr chalk). White chalk will ocver a multitude of sins. It won't take marks off but it will cover them up and the dress can be cleaned later.


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 8:13:48 AM

 
Tammy L. Odell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/7/2004
  I would have loved to have 1 hour with both of these weddings. I had about 30 mins to do the posed formals and family and I was rushed. Maybe I need to be more firm and just say, listen people, this is going to take at least an hour so just chill!!!!!!!!


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 8:48:53 AM

 
Laura E. OConnor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/12/2005
  More coffee, Kerry!!! ;)

Tammy, YOU GO GIRL! PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN! :)


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 9:15:44 AM

 
Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  Tammy I'd like to know where you were for my wedding! You're shots are unbelievable beautiful in my opinion. These are types of beauty shots my wife wanted. We had a terrible terrible photographer who was pathetic and ever single one of our shots except the medium format formals look like disposable camera shots. I mean we have crooked horizons, underexposed images, you can even see the frustration in our faces because he was making us so mad. We had to do everything twice because he didn't wasn't ready. Like we were getting in the car, he had the camera in hand and did something wrong, and he said OK get out we have to do that shot again. My wife got her dress dirty because of this. And believe it or not this guy had been shooting weddings for 20+ years supposedly. We had to cut the cake twice, he barged in on our FIRST dance and demanded a "pose", completely ruining the mood and atmosphere. We have maybe 7-9 shots in the ENTIRE proof book of us actually smiling and not a pissed look. So my question again, where were you? lol. just playing. actually my 14 year old sister took better shots than he did, and this was her first time shooting with the Nikon my dad lent her. oh well as forrest gump says, shit happens. Keep up the good work Tammy!


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 9:39:38 AM

 
Maria Melnyk   Wow! What a variety of responses. Yes, I did have 3 weddings: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and I'm still acheing (is that the way you spell it?) I will say, though, that all those "Bridezillas" were quite nice overall and that made the experience rather pleasant in the long run.

Gosh, Kerry, I really sympathize with your black grease stain; I would have gone berzerk if that was me!

Tammy asked how long should be spent doing photos after the ceremony. It depends on the size of the bridal party and family, but generally I spend about 30 minutes doing altar photos, but it's been as little as 5 if the priest was chasing us out due to whatever is scheduled next, and it's been as long as 45 minutes for very large groups.
Then outdoors I like to spend an hour because I do a variety of romantic poses and some fun stuff too. Except this month in Chicago has been unbearably hot, so in many cases I've had to limit that to 10 minutes.
Then, before the reception, I spend 20-30 minutes doing portraits of everyone by my backdrop, and more if there's a nice area in the hall or a staircase for additional photos.

Thanks everyone again for responding. It definitely helped me cool off and see the funny side of it as well.


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 9:40:28 AM

 
Maria Melnyk   Hey, Justin. I hope you got a lot of your money back after the wedding. I've made occasional mistakes myself that perhaps ruined a couple of images, but what you describe is unacceptable! You should have called the studio right then and there and demanded another photographer.


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 9:48:22 AM

 
  hey Maria, couple of weeks ago I had asked the bride to assign a relative with a list to read off and check mark to make sure that we got all the family (cause I don't know who's who). Well, this young lady (while Im shooting the protraits) says to me "we have to hurry, the guest are waiting and we don't want to make a bad impression". We had about 45minutes and I had a watch on. She kept telling me every 5 min. how much time we had left. I never get bothered by anyone, but this was bothersome while Im trying to concentrate. So I had her give me the list and asked her if she could pose them. Then later at the reception while I was taking a cake shot, she comes up frantically and says " you're missing the kiss". It was one of the million glass klinking kisses(that I already had 5 of). So I whipped around and shot it, but of coarse it was over. With a hostile voice she say "did you get it, let me see(the downside of digital)", knowing that it clicked after the kiss. So I told her hold on let me finish this cake shot. So she stood there and waited. So for her pleasure, I scrolled back to a one of the glass clinking kiss shots and showed her. She left me alone the rest of the night. The funny thing is, is that one of the guest bought only one picture online, probably telling the bride that if it wasn't for me you wouldn't haven't gotten this picture.(I chuckle about this one often)


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 12:59:49 PM

 
  coarse?


To love this comment, log in above
8/3/2005 1:32:46 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.