NOTE:   I’d love to do all my nieces and nephews, Bar mitzvahs, Weddings but I am smart enough to stay away, far away... On the other side who gets to eat is a problem and should be handled at the time of contract.  It seems to be a bigger problem than you think especially with large weddings and caterers who count by the head. 

And you need to know and settle this before the event.  Buffet style is not as critical, usually there is an overage.  I attended a big outdoor Cajun/Redneck/Louisiana/ Mud Bogging kind of wedding and the shooters, the hired one brought his friends most of whom held their cameras upside down and ate most of the crawfish, and drank his beer, that lit the groom up.  When they got stupid, the Bride mentioned it to her new hubby and he handled it quite well.

It wasn’t pretty, and I made no mention of taking pictures.  At one point, though, I thought grabbing a camera from the car to aid the police, but groom and friends removed the party crashers... I kept thinking the Hatfield's and the McCoy's.

All the realtors go on a walkthrough to become familiar with the property for sale and just as important is your attendance at the rehearsals and pre-parties is essential for you to know what’s going to happen and when.

Changes occur and I’m not referring just to the weather either. That’s just a variable in conditions and lighting. A whole bunch of shots of insignificant people at the affair means lost revenue. Here is what some consider the “must-have” shots…

Occasionally things don’t go right, and we have prepared a, list of excuses gleaned from sale meetings at Wedding mills I attended as a consultant. 



The worst feeling in the world is when the indoor flash pictures were ruined. The outside shots all shot in P mode and RAW worked wonderfully. The storm is developing.   We have a new shooter with stress, a low powered flash, untested and unfamiliar with, a dark room he never figured, mirrors, chandeliers and green walls. He had never seen the Church or lighting during the day or with the in-house lighting turned on and the people are moving!  Think about that they move around!

That’s why we developed the Anti-Blamesmanship Spray for Wedding Shooters. One simple spray and they will forget everything wrong you did.  Brought to you by the same company that made Blamesmanship for Golf so successful.  

Thousands of less than mediocre golfers who couldn’t find their balls used Blamesmanship successfully.  Spray yourself and won't remember why you took the job.                                              

Here for your benefit are the most commonly used expressions of Blamesmanship. These are common blames, only one or two are needed to hopefully prevent a lawsuit. The order is it was a People, God, Location and Planners.  Then spray them and they’ll forget you. 

Blame,  the (Please pick one) Bride, the Reverend, the Priest, the Rabbi, the Imam, the Witch Doctor, Mother-in-law, the Caterer, the Church layout, the Wedding Coordinator, the DJ, your helper.  Claim interference, ridiculous requests, illegal or immoral acts of shame, etc. 

The weather, too much sun, wind, and the stars, global warming, the internet lost the pictures and the abominable snow man. It’s God's Will!  (God Wills printed on 80 lb. stock are available from Moses printing 235 E 17th Street, NYC, NY) the exception is Hurricanes, you can get great indoor shots.

Blame the location for not allowing you to take over the place and interrupt the entire occasion because this is your day to explore your craft.  After all the Priest could have paused when doing the Communion for you to blast his eyeballs out. “I feel sorry for the couple getting married. If they don't care enough to do the wedding right, then what is the rest of the marriage going be like?  Well, grain of salt here, and excuses.

Quote: “I simply finished taking all the shots at that wedding and decided I would not accept any further bookings from that planner. I guess weddings are stressful for many people involved in the event, including planners. Wedding planners are a dime a dozen, so I didn't lose any sleep over not doing any more business with this particular planner!”

As far as rejecting or accepting work from a specific wedding planner, I wouldn't make too much of an issue over it. Depends on where you live, they talk amongst themselves and if your local or town is small enough, you'll bury yourself. It is just like you'd be apt to warn another photographer about that planner. That changes the expression “talk is cheap, intro talk is expensive”. This could be a dumb arrogant move.

I truly feel up to ninety percent of the problems that pop at Weddings are not the Bride, Groom or anyone else’s fault. And that many of these problems can be avoided by an effort on behalf of the photographer.  Newer shooters without experience have just walked into a minefield. Well, maybe tap danced through a minefield is a better (and my favorite) metaphor.  It’s just the nature of the beast and the learning curve.  I place things that go wrong at a Wedding into specific categories. 

These are things you can't control.   These are beyond the scope of mortal man and acts of God.
Issues are problems that are solvable, an extra shot,  getting there earlier, changing the lighting, etc.
These occur from things you didn’t control. Lack of preparation, or you got lazy or took it for granted.

You don’t care, period….

You must take the time and the initiative to coordinate and plan with the rest of the folks involved and know every nuance of what’s about to happen during the planning stages.  If they don't or haven't done this, it's your job to wake the "stick" for the information.  Everyone else brings something to the Wedding, the photographer is the only one that must bring something home from the wedding!

You should know what is to be where and when and put all the parts into play that involves your part of the occasion.  It's nice to make a list of all the things that went wrong that effected your work but as Michael Brown head of FEMA got blasted for “you can blast the bureaucracy, but good management is what overcomes adversity”.  He was a Bush appointment, something about “Birds of a feather, flock together”.  Is a DORK a bird?  No but with a government credit card and United and American, he can fly.

That’s what they pay a pro for. Newbies fail because they just don’t have the instinct of the pros to ward off the problems. By having an organization and a chain of command in place problems become "lets handle this" and be done.

Weddings are great places for referrals and I talk about it a lot in several articles. They are great opportunities for you to show the clients you know what you are doing and to impress and solicit potential business. You are on stage as well as the Bride and Groom at a wedding. Just don’t get imbibed, jump on the dance floor and rip your clothes off while doing an Elvis impersonation. 

I can't believe how many weddings get shot and all we hear is " I was told no flash when I got there; the light was really bad; I didn't know the reception was in the Church basement and they only had two 60 watt bulbs”, whatever.  If you walked in blind you are the one that failed the exam. It was not the fault of the Bride, not the Groom and not the Planner.

Not knowing or not doing what you must do is paramount to failure and having owned a lab I saw it every day. Brutally bad work passed off as art combined with lots of excuses. I think I have heard every excuse in the book.  On most forum’s, the blame always falls on someone or something else. 

•  Not being prepared is like firing a mortar at a controlled zero azimuth and vertical angle of ninety degrees in zero wind conditions. 

•  Wearing a blue or red shirt in certain areas of LA 

•  Believing that pro-wrestling is real 

•  And that the IRS is sincerely there to help you.

There are few excuses for failure that weren’t avoidable or predictable or anticipated. If you did your recon properly most will surface during the walk around.  Then you pull your organization and planning team together. This is what defines the true pro from the wannabes and hackers.

I fear many of the “photographers” starting in wedding work are afraid to be assertive in some ways.  They just stand there in the background and record things that happen and maybe that’s their mantra. When things go wrong, they are dead in the water and cannot pull the results out. 

Remember you the photographer are the only one taking something from the wedding, the images the essence, anything less you should have stayed a guest.