I’ve only ever done wedding photography as an onlooker of sorts. That’s to say that the wedding couple knew I was taking pictures there, but I wasn’t the primary photographer for their event. Not even the second photographer. That’s because I was never up to the responsibility of making sure I got the best pictures at these once-in-a-lifetime events. My nerves simply wouldn’t have been able to handle this. It still can’t. And reading about some of the incidents that a few wedding photographers worldwide have shared, I don’t think I’ll be attempting wedding photography any time soon, either. Here are some incredible stories from wedding photographers.
During the last few months, I’ve corresponded with a few wedding photographers from around the world. Some were reluctant to share incidents during their careers that caught them unaware. They felt it might be disrespectful to clients, even though they’d remain unnamed. But a handful returned with some outrageous, amusing, weird, and odd requests from their wedding clients. And some of them are bound to make you chuckle.
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A Full Blown Fight Before Nuptials
Pradeep Mohan often says he wasn’t sure of his photography skills when he started to dabble in smartphone photography. “With a background in Performing Arts and Communications, I found my calling once I joined the brand communications team at Nikon,” he tells us. Here he picked up the ability to tell a story through Photography and Film. It took him a handful of years to find his photography style and the key storytelling traits that make his work recognizable.
His first day as a wedding photographer happened by chance when he had to cover for the hired photographer who didn’t turn up. “I was a bit nervous about how I was going to get started. Assigned to shoot portraits of the bride, I walked into the room filled with wonderful backlight from the sun. It definitely helps when the bride looks beautiful, and she sure was,” Pradeep tells us. His initial jitters ended right there, and it led to the start of a new career for him. It wasn’t the last time he got nervous, though.
The Groom Walks Out
“The most awkward one was when I had walked into a pre-wedding shoot location to film the couple. What started as a casual conversation became a full-blown fight filled with expletives.” Pradeep could only stand and watch as the groom stormed out of the place in a huff. As he wondered whether his shoot was over before it even began, he turned to look at the bride. She began to pour a glass of champagne, sat on the couch with a pose, and said to him, “He’ll be back. Let’s continue.” It didn’t take long for the groom to come back. 10 minutes later, he joined the shoot, and the couple had made up by the time it had been completed.
Shoots On The High Seas Can Get Messy for Wedding Photographers
Jaysun D’Almeida is a Canadian photographer who specializes in weddings and portraits. As a former photography tutor in the UAE, he once stepped in to help a student who had to photograph a wedding. From there, he began a successful career in wedding photography in the Middle East before relocating to Canada, where he still pursues his passion. I asked him what the most amusing incident he’d encountered during his many shoots was.
“I had to shoot a wedding on a yacht one day. By the time we were out at sea, it had begun to get really windy. Both the groom and I were so nauseated to the point that we both passed out on the couch. It was a horrible experience; we both puked our guts out into the sea,” he narrates. It took over an hour for both of them to literally find their feet again in order to refresh themselves. However, the long trip out there wasn’t wasted, and the photoshoot happened the same day. And no, they didn’t find themselves hurling again after the shoot. It was just another challenge for Jayson, which he took in his stride.
He told me another interesting anecdote about the time the bride-to-be who was dressing up, decided to get some additional pictures done. “I was taking pictures of the bride getting ready, and suddenly she decided that I should take her pictures in her bare essentials,” says Jaysun. One of those rare times when a wedding shoot suddenly becomes a boudoir session. “She wanted those pictures for her future husband; the experience was beautiful.”
Hard Work Pays Off for Wedding Photographers, Even If It’s Delayed
David Ghisa first picked up a camera when he was just 17 and began his career in fashion photography. A decade later, he’s an established wedding photographer who loves capturing emotions and helping people bring their feelings and dreams to print. But he learned the hard way that business and emotions are two things that need to be handled very differently when it comes to wedding photography.
When you’re a small business owner, are you expected to always give your friends and family a discount? Or would you expect them to support you by hiring you instead of another equally competent professional (who may or may not be cheaper)? And how do you politely negotiate or turn down those in your inner circles who seem to expect you to always provide a discount? Especially when they’re working with you for the first time. One such client of David’s hoped she could negotiate a deal right at the start.
“Initially, I received a call from a woman, asking me if I could be the photographer for her wedding,” narrates David. Of course, his answer was yes. He expected a conversation about the wedding day, so he could gather details about the requirement. Instead of asking David what he could provide them as part of his services, the prospective client went straight to the point. “Hey, you know that I am a friend of your mother. What about a discount?” she said. That line caught David entirely off guard. He stood firm on his rates, and eventually the client buckled and agreed to book him for their wedding, with the guarantee to pay him after the event. This seemed alright at the time, until the day of the wedding.
Clickin’ on a Prayer
After the vows were exchanged, the band began taking requests at the venue. David was in his element, taking great photos of the celebrations. As time passed, the guests started wanting to sing songs of their choice, with the band playing the tunes to their vocals. The only catch was that the band would charge for each request that was coming in. Which was being paid for by the couple. So when the time came for David to be born, to his shock, there was nothing left with the client to pay him.
“Well, you know, we had to pay the band for each greeting. So, we don’t have any money left for you,” they blankly told him that evening. Luckily David didn’t let that dampen his spirits and kept his chin up. They did pay up days later, something he shrugs off by saying, “In the end, their happiness was more important. Each wedding is a celebration of two people union, in a joyful and happy-ending story event,” David concludes.
When Pre-Wedding Photos Got A Couple In Trouble
Now in his early 20s, Ayush Krishnan was a few years younger when a crazy incident happened due to a photo shoot he had with a couple that was to be wed. An extrovert who loves interacting with people, he narrated the tale of this couple who had flown from India to Dubai to avail of his services. “During the shoot, generally couples request intimate photographs just for them,” Ayush says about some extra photos the couple had requested. “They loved the photographs and wanted me to come to India to shoot the wedding as well!”
At this point, any photographer would have expected it to be smooth sailing for the wedding, except that it didn’t seem like there would be one. “Two weeks later, I got a call from the client demanding a refund. At this point, I was very confused,” says a bewildered Ayush about the client blaming the wedding cancellation on him. Apparently, family members had seen those intimate photos, and since they were from an orthodox family, they decided to cancel the wedding altogether. It was unfortunate for them, but when the images were specifically requested by the couple, they absolved the photographer of any responsibility whatsoever.
They Did What?
“I felt sorry for them, but it was their fault as they had kept it as their wallpaper on their phone. I told them that I wouldn’t be able to give them a refund for the shoot because of their mistakes. They had then told me they would delete all the photographs from their end and again demanded a refund.” Ayush stuck to his guns and politely asked the couple not to blame him for a screw-up on their part. This incident changed how he worded his contracts for the better. But he laughed as he told me what happened 4 months after their refund request.
“The same bride was getting engaged to another guy, and she wanted me to capture her pre-wedding and wedding as well. It was very funny to shoot that pre-wedding as they were doing all the intimate poses she did with her ex-fiancé. I couldn’t stop laughing while editing the photographs and video.” Fortunately, this time, Ayush had an air-tight contract. As far as we know, she didn’t call back for another refund.
This Wedding Photographer Stays Clear Of Vehicles During Weddings Now
Kathleen Hoare of South Africa has been doing weddings for under a decade now. She’s already had at least two bouts of bad luck with motor vehicles during this short time. The first was while trying to get photos of a couple at an outdoor spot in Dubai. “The venue had a few key locations that were great for portraits,” Kathleen says about the couple’s chosen site for the pictures. “They dedicated a golf buggy for us to get around from one spot to another. Unfortunately, the buggy driver took a corner too quickly, and I was thrown from the buggy, a camera in each of my hands.” Luckily she landed on soft grass and was unscathed. The same can’t be said for the cameras she had at hand.
“One of the cameras had to get serviced due to the impact. The poor driver was very apologetic. I just carried on, literally. Got up, dusted myself off, checked my cameras, and moved on to shooting in the next location.”
You’d think this sort of stuff could happen only once to someone. But Kathleen says otherwise. “Earlier this year, I was shooting an outdoor wedding. I was getting photos of the tables and decor. I crouched down low to the ground to get a different angle, and a car reversed into me.” Just reading that alone sounded incredibly dangerous, and I wondered what happened due to that bump. To her good fortune, Kathleen was unhurt. “I let out a little scream, and all the staff and the driver came running over.” The proper professional she is, she admitted that no harm was done to her brand-new camera.
Unless mentioned otherwise, all images used in this article are copyrighted by the respective wedding photographers and are used with permission. The couples shown in the photos aren’t the ones described in the accompanying text and are for illustrative purposes only.