Michael Caswell Photography
Other Wedding Vendors Taking Photos

Other Wedding Vendors Taking Photos

As is common among wedding photographers, my contract has an exclusivity clause that designates that I am the sole vendor authorized to take photographs during your wedding. This does not apply to a photobooth, nor other vendors such as planners, DJs, florists, decorators, lighting, and venue management who are photographing their setups prior to the start of the event, or are grabbing a quick shot or two during the ceremony or reception to post their involvement to social media for promotion. I may occasionally have to ask them to not obstruct my shots, but with the great wedding professionals we have in the New Orleans area and the relationship we all have from working together on a regular basis, this is rarely even needed. And, of course, I am always willing to share my images with other vendors if they ask.
The primary reason for the inclusion of the exclusivity provision is to protect against certain vendors who stray from the service they were hired for, and either themselves or with the help of an assistant, actively engage in photographing all or portions of the wedding day, to the detriment of your real pictures. Most often, it's the DJ who does this, as a supplemental service offered for free or for a small charge. This is a bad idea for numerous reasons, which can be concisely summarized with one simple statement: the potential for your professional wedding photos to be adversely affected, with very little to gain in return. While the prospect of more photos at little or no cost might be appealing, more is not necessarily better, in and this case may actually be quite worse because of how it affects your real wedding photography (for which you've invested a substantial amount of money).
There's the direct issue of another photographer being visible in the pictures I capture for you. Even though they may promise, "I'll stay out of your photographer's way", chances are this will not be the case, as I move around quite a bit during the ceremony to capture a variety of angles, sometimes shooting tight and other times wide. During the reception, while shooting the action on the dance floor it's almost a guarantee that the other photographer will be in some of these shots, and it's very noticeable when a fantastic shot of a group of guests dancing has another photographer right in the middle of it.
Additionally, having another photographer who is actively trying to photograph the event means there's a good chance that at times we'll be competing for the same vantage points from which to shoot. I can promise you that the pictures I capture will be FAR better, and it's simply not a worthwhile tradeoff to allow these images to be compromised for the sake of letting the DJ shoot as well.

Then there's the effect that this practice can have on interactions with guests, primarily during the reception. In some cases this other vendor may behave in a manner that is inappropriate or unprofessional, and doesn't fit the level of service and unobtrusiveness that I strive so hard to provide, and because guests will likely think that we are working together, this reflects very poorly on my image.

Additionally, this mistaken identity can cause another type of confusion. For instance, perhaps the bride's mother wants an informal group picture with her siblings and cousins, and not realizing he is not the actual professional photographer, asks the DJ to get the shot. When she is later looking through my wedding gallery, she'll be confused as to why she cannot find it. Even if she does later realize that it was in fact the DJ who took this picture, and locates it, she will be disappointed at the poor quality.

So, in short, if your DJ mentions taking pictures, please stress to them that aside from a couple of shots for social media, you would like them to concentrate exclusively on performing the job of providing entertainment, and avoid actively photographing your event. Feel free to make me the bad guy by pointing out to them that the contract you have with your photographer forbids this.

Guest Photography

Much of the above also applies to a friend or family member who may be an aspiring wedding photographer or perhaps just an enthusiastic amateur, and asks if you'd mind them shooting during your wedding for practice and as a portfolio-building opportunity. While this may seem harmless, it can interfere with my ability to produce the level of work that my couples expect, so I strongly recommend just saying no to this. Again, if you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, you can blame this restriction on me.

Does that mean guests are not allowed to take pictures during your wedding? Absolutely not! Though I urge you to read and consider my article on unplugged weddings, in general guests taking pictures isn't an issue during the reception. But if you observe (or if I point out) a person who appears to be focused primarily on actively documenting the event, it's advisable to ask them to refrain from doing so and instead just enjoy the party as a guest!.