How to Avoid Being “Uncle Bob” for a Wedding Photographer

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A recent episode of All Things Considered ran a piece titled, “Meet Uncle Bob, the Wedding Photographer’s Friendly Terror”. It featured an interview with wedding photographer Amy Wurdock about her experience contending with the well-intentioned family member with expensive camera equipment who inevitably gets in the way of her doing her job.

If you have photographed many weddings, you no doubt have your own Uncle Bob story or you may even be guilty of being Uncle Bob yourself. It was something that was on my mind while attending a recent wedding. Here are some suggestions to avoid having to be a wedding photographer’s painful anecdote.

Don’t Photograph the Ceremony

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 35mm f2 IS image samples (6 of 9)ISO 1251-200 sec at f - 4.0

The couple has hired a professional photographer to do this. The will likely have a better position to shoot from than you will. Stay present and enjoy the moment. It’s why you’ve been invited to the ceremony in the first place.

Leave the Camera Bag at Home

Bibi Hafeez Wedding photos by Chris Gampat (15 of 20)

Though you shouldn’t be dissuaded from making some of your own photographs during the reception, you should keep things simple. Take as small a camera as you have with a small fixed or zoom lens. Nobody wants to deal with your full-frame DSLR with a superzoom planted in the middle of the dining table.

Let the Pros Get Their Images First

 

As a photographer, you should appreciate the demands being put upon the wedding photographer to capture those once in a lifetime moments. Even if you see a wonderful shot, defer to the professional. They’re accountable to the newlyweds in a way that you’re not.

Stay Out of the Shot

Don’t be in the line of sight when the wedding photographer is making photographs of a special moment, such as the first dance. Wait until they’ve gotten their shots or position yourself so that you aren’t going to be in the picture or getting in the photographer’s way.

Avoid Chatting Up the Photographer

A wedding is not the time to talk shop with the photographer about gear. They need to be focused on the small, intimate moments happening around them.

Don’t Tell Them About the Great Shot They’ve Missed

There’s enough pressure to be had by the photographer without having to be second-guessed by an all-knowing guest. Even if you yourself shoot weddings, keep your opinions to yourself. You wouldn’t like it much if it were done to you.

This is Not an Opportunity for Your Portfolio

You should attend a wedding with the intention of having a good time and not an opportunity to pad your portfolio. While you may make a nice, memorable shot, you should remember you are there to have fun and not to work.

Easy on the Alcohol

Though everyone enjoys an open bar, it shouldn’t be an opportunity to tie one on. Add a camera to the mix and you can be remembered in ways you might not prefer. It’s bad enough to be “Uncle Bob”. It’s a little worse to be “Drunk Uncle Bob” to boot.

Don’t Wrangle the Bride and Groom

If there is something worth photographing allow it to occur naturally. Don’t make the mistake of cajoling the bride and groom to this ‘“great location” for a photograph. It’s their special day. Let them enjoy themselves.

Leave the Camera at Home

Ultimately, you could just leave the camera at home and simply ask the bride after the wedding how you might be able to see or get copies of some of the wedding photographs.