Stupid alter ego Dan likes the cold rainy gray weather (when it’s gray he doesn’t have to put on sun screen), but rain just makes Mr. Crankypants even more cranky than usual. That means it’s time to tell wedding photographers about what they may and may not do during weddings.

Here are eight rules for wedding photographers to memorize:

1. Wear clothes that look respectable but do not stand out. Black is good. Blue-and-white checked shirts are not acceptable. Jeans are totally unacceptable. It doesn’t matter if you feel more comfortable wearing jeans, because this is not about your comfort — you’re getting paid to do this.

2. Once the ceremony starts, no flash photography. When you aim your flash directly at the minister’s eyes while crouching in front of the wedding couple, you will probably blind him or her — it’s not a good idea to blind the officiant, even momentarily. (Besides, if you were a real photographer, you’d have a camera that can take existing-light photos.)

3. No, you may not stand on pews. No one else is standing on pews. What makes you think you’re so special you can treat the church that way?

4. When the wedding couple are repeating their vows, you are not to stand up in the front pew to take their picture. If you do so, you will block the view of family and friends. They are there to see and participate fully in this religious ceremony, and religiously the ceremony requires their presence. But wedding ceremonies do not require your presence at all, so go to the back of the church, buddy. (Besides, if you were a real photographer, you’d have a good enough telephoto lens so you wouldn’t have to pop up in the front pew like a damned Jack-in-the-box.)

5. Just because that ill-behaved four-year-old is running up and down the aisle doesn’t mean that you may do so. Once the ceremony begins, the wedding photographer’s role is to be in the back of the church, and be entirely unobtrusive. The four-year-old’s parents don’t know enough to stop the little hellion from running in the aisles; as an alleged professional, you should know better.

6. Mr. Crankypants just made a new rule. If you take an intrusive close-up picture of someone in the congregation crying, that person is now allowed to smash your camera immediately after the ceremony.

7. Do not hum to yourself. No, not even under your breath.

8. The wedding photographer is not the center of the wedding. The wedding photographer is less important than the wedding couple. The wedding photographer is less important than the officiant. The wedding photographer is less important than anyone in the congregation (yes, even less important than that little four-year-old hellion). The wedding photographer is not essential to the wedding and is actually completely unimportant. The wedding photographer should therefore be just as unobtrusive as he/she is unimportant.

One last word: Since Mr. Crankypants is not a Universalist (unlike stupid alter ego Dan), he can assure you that there is a special place in hell reserved for wedding photographers who violate any of the above rules. Oh, the suffering you will undergo there will be far worse than the suffering that you have inflicted over the years on poor Mr. Crankypants, who will pray for you while you writhe eternally in hell’s stop bath of boiling acetic acid.

6 thoughts on “

  1. chalicechick

    Almost all of this can be solved by brides and grooms hiring photographers with news photography experience rather than portrait photography experience. News photographers are used to making the best picture of what’s in front of them rather than changing the environment to make an optimal (and often cookie-cutter) photograph.

    We got a former AP news photographer for my wedding. She was perfect.


  2. C & C

    Mr. Crankypants,
    I’ve witnessed all of the above, and am in aggreement with you.
    Perhaps everyone present could be armed with a rolled up newspaper (wedding program?) and have free rein to swat an annoying photographer like a buzzing fly that won’t go away…
    Oops, guess I am wearing my cranky shorts today. Thanks for making me laugh!

  3. Mr. Crankypants

    CC — Good idea. Skip anyone who bills him/herself as a wedding photographer. (P.S. You’re one of my cranky heroines.)

    C & C — Wedding program would be fine, if you roll it around a piece of lead pipe.

  4. Jean

    okay. in defense of photographers, and wedding photographers (my husband is one, I’ve been one
    and an assistant to one)… brides are the worst possible subject to photograph. So many
    young women buy into this crazy notion that the wedding is “their” day, that all of the bows
    and cake and lace and frou frou things are for them, about them, reflect them, etc., that
    these probably otherwise nice young women become INSANE. The photographer doesn’t do it to them,
    I don’t know what does — bride magazines? mothers? Barbie doll role playing? — but the
    photographer ends up bearing the brunt of everything because it is he — yeah, usually he — who is
    expected to not only take pictures of the young woman, but also orchestrate all the stupid little events
    that people for some ungodly reason expect — the garter, the bouquet, the mashing of cake into
    your newly wedded spouse’s face, etc etc. So does the photographer act like a goon? Probably.
    Because he has dealt with the bride, her newly psychotic need for perfection, and her insistence
    on documenting each detail of her wedding, her day, her, and all the people looking at, surrounding,
    and attending to her.
    The wedding ceremony? Oh, right.
    The reason we’re doing this? Love and commitment and all that? Right, forgot about that.
    Sorry, Mr. Crankypants. I know photographers can be doofuses, but it’s not all their fault. Nor is it all
    the bride’s fault either. It’s a loony ceremony, this thing called the wedding. Just try to
    live through it. Note to the minister: when I used to work weddings a lot, we’d see the same minister/
    priest/rabbis a lot. More than one, and no I won’t name names, used to keep a flask near at hand to
    get through the blessed event. I don’t recommend it, personally; makes for very loopy ceremonies.
    And yes, they did say the same thing at every wedding. How sad.
    Note to the bride: just elope. I did and it worked out fine.

  5. Administrator

    Hi Jean — Speaking as a minister (one who does *not* keep a flask handy during weddings), ministers have to bear some of the blame. When I first meet with a wedding couple, I always tell them that I do not allow flash photography during the ceremony, and that I will have to speak with the wedding photographer well before the ceremony to talk about the photographer’s appropriate role. Nearly all photographers actually agree with my basic guidelines — once the bride is in place, no flash, no standing in front of any member of the congregation, no standing in the aisles, etc. (There was one who said feebly, “No flash…?” and I smiled showing my teeth and said, “If you use flash, I will throw you out of the church building bodily and not let you back in,” and he turned out to be very well behaved.)

    Mr. Crankypants should have put some or much of the burden on the minister. If the minister is willing to take the stand with the wedding couple upfront that this is a religious ceremony, not three-ring circus, everything goes much more smoothly. On the other hand, not all wedding couples want to have me do the ceremony when I tell them that I do *religious* ceremonies, and tell them what my religion entails (equal rights for women and same sex couples, no three ring circuses, etc.) — so yes, the members of the wedding couple also bear some of the responsibility.

    On the other hand, wearing a blue-and-white checked shirt at a church wedding, humming under your breath, and standing on pews are always unprofessional, even if it is the Wedding of Bridezilla.

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