Ah yes, the age old problem. Open Bar + Close Proximity To Others + Party = the Less Than Cooperative Guest. It’s something that we’ve all had to deal with and if you haven’t yet as a wedding photographer, you will. There is always the one guest that has had a little too much to drink and either offers an abundance of unsolicited advice or proceeds to just make your night rough. As a professional you should remember that you are there at the request of the wedding couple and most importantly, you have a job to do. This is business, nothing personal.
I’ve had this happen to me unfortunately on a couple of occasions. I’ve had the “friend” who is a photographer come up to me and try to “one-up” me on everything from equipment, to style, to poses for photographs. I’ve also had the gentleman who’s had one too many proceed to try and get in every single photo I took whether he was supposed to be in the shot or not. These kinds of things are going to happen and these aren’t the kind of things your photography class instructor probably went over very much when you took their crash course. The most important thing to remember is to maintain your composure. Most of the time they don’t have a clue who you are and are just talking to someone who will listen. I make it a point to try and be as professional and courteous as possible and let them know that unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to chit chat right now that the bride and groom are on the move. You will learn what works best for you the first few times you use it.
As for the wedding guest who insists on trying to get in every shot that I am taking whether invited or not, that is going to take a little more tact and a little more “air of authority” in your voice. I make it a point to lower the camera and with a smile on my face, politely ask the guest to please step aside for just a few seconds while I gather this shot. Most of the time they will comply. If in the event they do not, you have a few options but one that I would probably employ is simply to ask the guest you are trying to focus on to simply change their location so as you might get their shot without interruption. I’m sure they will be more than accommodating.
Unfortunately this is something we don’t normally think about with wedding photography but it is something you will need to deal with at some point. Don’t be afraid to maintain a sense of authority as you are the hired vendor by the bride and groom to take the most important images of their lives and that above all else is the most important part of your job and an uncooperative guest should not prevent you from achieving that goal. If things get really out of hand, go to whomever the bride and groom have placed in charge whether that be the wedding coordinator or some other person and let them know of the situation and that it needs to be dealt with.
It shouldn’t happen often but when it does you would have already thought of a plan to implement and thus make your night go a lot smoother.
Until next time, Happy Shooting!
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