Every few years, a bridal magazine asks married couples what they wish they'd spent more money on. The answer is almost always the same: the photos.
Cakes, booze, flowers, and music are all ephemeral; photographs and the memories they capture are what last forever. You simply can't miss mom crying before you even arrive at the venue, uncle Charlie making a fool of himself on the dance floor, or the moments that the bride and groom share when they think no one is watching.
Of course, that can't-miss status puts pressure on photographers to nail every shot. If you're the one getting married, doing your research and shelling out extra cash for a reputable professional is the best way to avoid major head- and heartaches. But we all make mistakes sometimes—even pros. Here are a few that could've been easily avoided.
Hire a Professional
Knowing that your photographer will be on time and able to do the job while staying out of the way is a great comfort. You've got enough on your plate without worrying about babysitting.
I've shot many weddings, and my goal is always to be the last person the bridal party has to think about on the big day. This goes for all photography assignments, but it is especially true at weddings, since they can be so stressful.
For photographers, acting like a professional means being prepared and staying inconspicuous. It doesn't mean—just for example—starting a brawl in the middle of the reception.
I know, I know... that's a tough rule to remember. But here's a handy guide: Are you endangering the lives of guests by throwing your camera like Donkey Kong after his bananas were stolen? Then you're doing it wrong.
And though it's important to get key shots, it's also important to not draw attention to yourself. A photographer's freedom of movement depends entirely on the couple they're working with, and it's something that should be discussed ahead of time. Even if given freedom to do "whatever," common courtesy should be taken into consideration. If you act like this......don't be surprised when you get a reaction like this:
Pro Tip #1: No matter what, it's a photographer's job to be professional and carry on with the assignment. If someone is preventing you from doing that (and you can't work it out quietly), then take it up the chain of command.
"Is this weird for you?"
For many, their wedding day is the culmination of a lifelong dream. It's their day to feel special, to look beautiful, and to have photos that capture that feeling.
For a photographer, it's important to get the basics right, such as composition. But no matter what the photographer thinks, it's the wedding party's right to have a say in their photos.
Another handy tip for photographers: Under no circumstances should you make the bride look like a centaur. Seriously, nobody wants to be like A-Rod. Generally speaking, animals should not be prominently involved, let alone mythical creatures.
Here are a few examples of things getting a little too weird...
Awkward, part deux.
Pro Tip 2: Don't do anything you've seen above.
The Art of Walking
Walking backwards isn't as easy as it seems. We get it. Try to do it while looking through a viewfinder and you just might end up on America's Funniest Home Videos.
These photographers should've practiced a little more, or maybe just used a longer lens:
Pro Tip 3: Photographers should always map out the venue before photographing a wedding. If the ceremony is in an unfamiliar location, show up the day before to scout it out during rehearsals. It is always better to be over-prepared.
Beachfront, lakefront, and even riverside weddings are always popular. These location weddings normally turn out beautifully and are remembered fondly for years to come. But, inevitably, things sometimes go awry. Usually it's due to bad weather, but sometimes photographers do Mother Nature's work for her:
Pro Tip 4: Always remember that the water and gravity are unforgiving agents of chaos with no regard for your creative process.
When it really comes down to it, the wedding party just wants great photos of their big day. The photographer just wants to deliver the shots and get paid. So don't be afraid to take chances, but keep in mind how colossally bad you'll feel if you screw up someone's wedding. A little common sense goes a long way.
And seriously: Stop it with the centaurs.