Tips for the guest wedding photographer

Weddings are wonderful events to attend as a photographer. The fancy clothes, the beautiful vistas, the joy of the guests and the love of the bride and groom often make for great pictures.

Still, weddings are often strict regarding protocol. Moreover, they are very emotional events. No one wants to cross a line and spoil the day! This article will discuss some dos and don’ts when attending weddings as a guest photographer.

Work around the hired photographer

Almost all weddings have a hired photographer, or at least a designated relative in charge of taking the official pictures. Your first job as a guest is to respect that person: he or she was selected by the bride and groom, and the happy couple entrusted that person with a heavy responsibility. They are also paying a lot of money for the services of that pro photographer.

Pictures (and memories) are what remains of that special day. Moreover, a hired photographer has a responsibility to deliver pictures of that day; don’t try to compete with him and don’t make that job more difficult than it already is!

Keep out of the way of the hired photographer

Keeping out of the way of the hired photographer actually offers new possibilities. Why not shoot pictures of the bride and groom from another angle? You might capture something the pro is missing! Take a few steps back and include guests in the frame, move to the side to capture the scene from a different angle, be creative!

Focus on different things

Chances are the main photographer will take a hundred shots of “the kiss”. However, chances are the parents, best men and maids of honour will be completely ignored during that time. Why not take pictures of these people while the pro is busy shooting the couple?

Focusing on the guests will yield many beautiful candid shots. The bride and groom will probably have little time to care for their guests during the ceremony, but will be happy afterwards to share the emotions and happiness of their guests. This will shed a different light on the wedding than what the hired photographer usually focuses on.

Photos during the wedding reception

During the reception, why not take pictures of the various tables? A hired photographer rarely photographs guests: his job is to photograph the couple. Similarly, you could look at details in the decoration, photograph the cake, anything the bride and groom might remember fondly a few months later.

Some things to avoid as guest wedding photographer

Some things are to be avoided unless you want to create a diplomatic incident!

  • Flash during the ceremony: most times, flashes are not allowed inside churches, and in any case it’s better to be safe than sorry! You may have to raise the ISO but not too high if your camera produces a large amount of digital noise.
  • Bossing the hired photographer: as surprising as it might seem, every wedding photographer has a story about “Uncle Joe” trying to take control of the group photos. The bride and groom rarely look kindly to Uncle Joe taking the stage.
  • Tagging along during the romantic session: this session, usually taking place just after the ceremony, is often the only time the newlyweds have to themselves during the whole day. Focus on the remaining guests instead; the bride and groom will be thankful.

Weddings are wonderful events, and a guest photographer can contribute greatly by focusing on the things the hired photographer will miss. This creates an opportunity for beautiful and unique pictures. The bride and groom will thank you for shedding a different light on their special day.

Article and photos by Bernard Dery

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