It happens to everyone – friends have a life event (wedding, anniversary, milestone, etc.) and you’re invited! Awesome!
Of course you’re going to bring your camera – it’s like another appendage, and never leaves your side.
There’s a pretty good chance that there might be a hired photographer at the event as well.
STAY OUT OF THE WAY.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro – this is not your gig. You are there as a guest. It doesn’t matter if you think your work is better than the person working the event – they are the one that was hired, and they have a job to do.
As a pro photographer, you should be even more aware of this and step the heck back. Let that person do their job. So…
- Leave your big guns (lights, modifiers, etc) at home. Including your flash – double flash will screw up your photos as well as theirs, and you’re making life harder.
- Don’t distract the wedding party when the photographer is trying to pose them. You’re interfering with that person’s job.
- In general – stop taking pictures of the posed formals, especially with flash. If you really must, get a different angle and stay well behind the hired photographer. No one wants to deal with that one person who jumps in front to grab the shot that someone else set up, ruining the image. You’re screwing over both the photographer and the people who paid to have their event documented.
- STAY IN YOUR SEAT. The last thing this pro needs is some annoying human jumping into the aisle and ruining their shot. Maybe you can’t get the angle you dreamed of. Get over it. This is not your gig.
- Focus on other details – enjoy not having the pressure of having to deliver anything, and try some creative shots that you wouldn’t be able to if you had a list of items to get through. You’ll have cool moments and angles that you’re free to grab that will enhance the memories of the occasion, rather than obstructing a person who’s at work.
- It’s a party! You’re there as a guest to enjoy yourself, not work. Treat it as the occasion it is, and have some fun!
None of this means you can’t get cool images. It means be a guest first. Stay out of the action spots, have some courtesy, and enjoy the event. Below are some pictures I took from my seat, sitting down, with a small camera and appropriate lens.
Addendum: This is a fairly new one that’s coming up – a guest wants to talk shop or brag about their gear to the event photographer. If you really want to get to know them, ask for their card and have coffee at a later date. While they’re at work, they can’t afford to eat up high pressure time chatting about flashes. (It amazes me how many people will try this with ANY profession – the dj, florist, you name it. They have a job to do. Just let them do it.)