LETTING UNCLE BOB IN ON SOME OF THE ACTION

So, we have a term amongst wedding photographers for the guy with the big camera taking unofficial shots of the wedding, we call him uncle Bob. He/she will likely be a relative with an interest in photography that wants to get some extra images for the benefit of the bride and groom but more often than not gets in the way and spoils the official photographers shot of a key moment. They will probably try to remind you at every moment that Nikon is better than canon or Vise Versa and as happened to me at a recent wedding at Dodmore house in Northamptonshire, suggest I try taking the shot from a different angle as it won’t work with the sun behind them.

A lot of photographers don’t like him, simply because of the examples above, but personally I don’t have a problem, in fact I actively encourage him. Well to a point.  A wedding is a very special day not just for a bride and groom but also for those that have been invited to share it. Those guests want to remember it just as much as the bride a groom and they will want to take photos for themselves and to share them. Who I am to stop them?

When I first started doing weddings, I would meet with my couple and at some point during our chat would remind them that I would be the official photographer and suggest that they tell their guests that they shouldn’t get it my way. But with everything else going on they probably won’t and actually is it really fair for me to ask. They have hired me to photograph the wedding and as such I should be responsible for how that is achieved.

As the photographer I should manage the photographic element of the wedding day. During the actual service, wedding officials are pretty good at reminding people that only the official wedding photographer can take photos and that there will be a point when others can come forward.  So the only times I have really found this to be a problem is for things like confetti throwing, the first dance and the cake cutting where often space can be limited.  As  a documentary wedding photographer its my job to work with these elements and my role is very much to observe and not dictate proceedings. But as the official photographer I will politely ask someone to move if they are in my way and once I have my shot I will move aside and let uncle Bob get his shot as well.  In fact in terms of documenting the wedding this is actually part of the story of the day and can provide some great photo opportunities.

With the rise of the mobile phone camera, weddings are now full of Uncle Bob’s and for me I think it is great. There are some great apps around for mobiles now such as Wedpics (www.wedpics.com) which allow guests to upload their mobile phone images from the day to a wedding album set up for the couple. I always mention this to the couples I work with as I think it is a great idea and creates a very interactive wedding experience that actively includes the guests that are so important to the bride and groom in the first place.

It would be easy to see this as a threat to the industry but I don’t. The wedding photographer still has the unique privilege of sharing the entire day from the nerves of the wait at the house to the one too many champagne dances at the end of the night, and it is our skill at capturing this story which puts us above the Uncle Bobs.

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