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Photography Question 
John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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Should I Take the Pictures?

I only get 7000 characters to state the case: Whenever I'm asked to shoot a relative's wedding [as primary photographer] I refuse. Why?

First of all it's the best place to destroy relationships. You've been asked to take the pictures of a very important part of someone life. Sure, you take good pictures, but you're not a pro and you don't do this all the time. And, if you screw up, there's no way to recover the lost opportunity.

You can't enjoy the ceremony or the reception because you've gotta be snapping the shutter. And, while you're supposed to be "the man or woman," all the other guests are therestepping in front of you to take their own pictures with their P/S cameras. The Minister said, "no photos during the ceremony." But that doesn't stop Aunt Maud!

The most important person is the Bride, second is Mother of Bride. We go down the list and, finally, we get to Father of the Groom [usually someone of no use,except for the checkbook. Take lots of good pics of the Bride. Of course, at one of the weddings I shot, the Bride had to be carried to he seat and never moved - so, the one shot I did get served for many, many exposures.

You need to take a shot of the folks at each table. MoB's being most important - so, pray she's not flitting around and, thus, never sitting with FoB and others.

Certainly, take the "cutting of the cake" and, maybe, "B feeds G" and "G feeds B." Take the cake, even!

You should try for some formals; if you have a wonderful day and a nearby park, the ocean, etc. - WOW! If not, go formal with a nice backdrop. Oh, be sure you let the Bride comb her hair before snapping the formal portrait.

Did I forget, you might want some shots of the wedding party at the church. You'll also need some formals of B&G - alone, with B's parents/family, with G's family, with both sets of parents.

Need a picture of hands and rings? Great! How about the "Toast byf the Best Man," the "reach for the garter," the "garter toss," the bouquet toss.

Remember, most of the above are the shots that might find their way into a final album. A lot of other pictures, some taken with those throw aways on each table, might just be better story-tellers and be far more interesting keepsakes.

But, if you accept the assignment, you're responsible and it's no picnic. And, you'll take the blame if your shots aren't perfect.

I do agree to "shoot around the pro." He can fight the crowds, while I shoot interesting shots with my telephoto.

I await comments.

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11/15/2005 12:35:46 PM

Jennifer W
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/26/2005
  I'll comment. Those are all good reasons why I would never ASK a relative to take pictures of my wedding. I recently got married and spent more than 1/3 of my budget on a fantastic photographer (not the recommended 10%, which would have gotten me a bargain basement photographer). I love my photos, and I spend a lot of time looking at them. I framed a few, I made albums of a few, I'm scrapbooking some more. Photos were very very important to me, and almost every aspect of the planning involved me asking myself, "How will this look in the photos?"

But photos, shocking as it seems to all us BPers ;), are not that important to some people. Some people prefer to spend the money on the cake or the dj or the dress or whatever is more important to them. So, if you know the person getting the photos doesn't really care and just feels like she ought to have something, I don't see a problem with doing it.

I took the photographs at a wedding, and I am far from a pro wedding photographer. Even farther from it back then. The bride loved the pictures, even though I only got "the basics" and some nice candids. She only paid me $100 + cost of developing, and she knew going in that I wasn't a pro. She didn't want all the fussy posed pictures - the rings, the bouquet, the veil over the heads with a kiss, etc. She wanted some family portraits and some nice candids. She got them.

I've never been to a wedding where the guests didn't heed "the rules." I always find it odd when people say "guests will just ignore the rules anyway." I must have some extraordinarily polite relatives and friends. :)

I've got a friend who is a very good photographer, and she has been asked several times to photograph relatives' weddings. She does a nice job; the family gets some decent photos (sans a lot of the fussy ones); the bride saves thousands. Some people just can't or don't want to afford several thousand dollars for a good wedding photographer.

So, my comment would be that "it depends on the bride." :) I've kno

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11/15/2005 2:42:00 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  You're very lucky you haven't come across the typical, rude guest - who makes the pro's work very difficult. And, who disregards the rules of the clergy. I have - too often.

My point, of course, was more jest than critique; but, I remain convinced that the primary spot at weddings should be left to pro's. And, because of that fact, I try very hard to help the pro by staying out his/her way. I do find it interesting that many pro's are so focussed on the traditional and, now, with digital feel more pictures are better than good ones. Take a lot of pictures; maybe I'll get one or two winners!

My wedding album [albeit 41 years old] contains only 20 pictures. Both my sons never created albums - choosing, instead, to provide that one great one that, in fact, was produced by the hired pro.

As you stated, costs are prohibitive and photography is one place people choose to hold the line. That's why, when an amateur is asked to come to the rescue, he/she needs to weigh the issues and his/her skills level.

I've been lucky to produce well-received photos that I actually like. It gives me great pleasure when my "amateur shots" are shown while the pro-produced images remain in storage. And, that should be the goals of everyone -

My point remains - don't take the primary role without a lot of "due consideration." It's a great way to destroy a friendship.

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11/15/2005 3:03:16 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003

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11/15/2005 3:20:25 PM

Diane Dupuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  Well you can surely pay high prices for a "pro" and still hate their work! And ask your cousing for freebies and have your favorite from his/her pics. Just because someone charges more doesn't necessarily make them better.
Personally I'd rather have a better meal and a few good pics worth enlarging than have several hundred pics that sit storage and have the rubbery chicken.
And unless the Pro puts Pro on the back of their shirt, sometimes it's not exactly clear who the Pro is...

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11/15/2005 4:47:08 PM

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