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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old September 20th, 2009, 04:51 PM   #1
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Finally met the photographer from hell.

Well we all meet the photographer from hell sooner or later. I met mine the end of last month.

I took a late booking from a very attractive bride.

Anyway she got lucky as I had a spare Saturday and it was the date she wanted. Full price no quibble at Bickton Castle in Devon, UK.

I arrived 2 and a half hours before the ceremony to film the brides preps. Knocked on the door and it was opened by the photographer. He was not happy to see me, though I am always extremely courteous to everyone. " We have been planning this wedding for over a year and I really don't want you here", were the first words out of his mouth to greet me.

Now I am not the shy type and won't take any crap, but this knocked me sideways. After the innitial shock, I ignored his moans and introduced myself to the bride and the bridesmaids and carried on as usual. It turned out he was a ten year press photographer and this is his second year in the wedding business.

But the opening dialogue was nothing compared to what happened later. I got some great footage, then went to meet the groom outside and got some footage of him doing some walking along in a group with ushers, best man etc. I then came back as the bride was about to put on her wedding dress. Tapped on the door, only for the photographer to open it and quietly tell me to F off, then close the door in my face.

Now I had three options. One, to walk in regardless, carry on as if nothing had happened.
Two. Enter, have a showdown with the photographer in front of the bride just minutes before she walked up the isle, or three, be a lap dog and do what the photographer demanded.

Well I took option one. Tapped again, breezed in, ignored the photographer who was scowling in my direction and got the shots of the dressed being laced up, before wishing her well and heading outside to get some more shots of the groom and guests. That, I thought, would be that. Wrong.

They were having a civil ceremony in the castle, before heading back outside and over to the small chapel where a local vicar was going to bless the marriage. The civil ceremony lasted longer than usual, about 25 minutes. It went without hitch except when the photographer came charging up the isle thinking the ceremony was over to get some shots, only to realise it wasn't and head back down the isle with his tail between his legs.

But soon enough it was, and everyone poured out, myself included, then headed over to the chapel. We thought this ceremony would be a quick ten minutes, but no one told the vicar and it lasted 45 minutes, including a very long sermon. My battery was getting very low and beeping. My gear was back in the room where the civil ceremony had taken place.

Coming out of the chapel, I turned to the photographer and said to him, "Look, I know we don't seem to have got off to the best of starts here, but I am sure we can work together for the rest of the day without any problems". I should have just kept my mouth shut. It was a fatal mistake.

I turned to an usher and told him what I had to do. I asked that no confetti was thrown until my return ( are you guessing what happened?) The usher said no problems and I set off for a new battery.

Yep. Coming around the corner on my return, (3-4 minutes at best) a cheer went up as did the confetti. The photographer had over ruled the usher and got the confetti shot. And I had missed it. Write out one hundred times. "I will carry a spare battery in my pocket".

I asked the usher what happened and he said the photographer plain ignored what he had asked and went and did it anyway.

So that was that. How would I explain what happened there to the bride?

It still wasn't over. The bride and groom were annoounced into the wedding breakfast and he walked straight in front of the camera and I had a great shot of his back. Again a useless shot, though I should have expected it by then.

I sat down and took a break while the breakfast was being eaten, and would you believe it he came over and tried to make small talk. I told him straight, in the 6 years I have been filming weddings, I have never met such a rude, arrogant photographer and I would make sure if a bride mentioned they were going to consider booking his services, I would do my very best to make sure they were put completely off. For once he had no reply and walked off.

Interestingly, the castle has its own photographer who shoots every wedding ( its in the package) He told me I am certainly not the first to have a face off with this particular photographer, and won't be the last.

Last week the bride received her film. I was very pleased with it, except that it had no confetti shot. A few days later I got the call I was expecting. Where is the confetti shot? I explained there was a lack of communication at the wrong momet and she was fine about it.

Lessons learned.

1. Make sure you carry a spare tape (or in my case SxS card) and battery in your pocket at all times.
2. Carry a decent supply of bio-degradable confetti in the car. If it happened again you can do a reshoot.
3. If you are not getting on with the photographer, don't give him the ammunition to make your day even worse with a bit of sabotage.
4. Always be friendly in front of your client, no matter how incensed you are by the photographer.
5. Enjoy telling him where to get off when you get a quiet moment with him. Don't be shy. Guys like this need to be told and he isn't going to thump you.

I know nearly all the local photographers and work with them on a weekly or twice weekly basis. We all know what we want and work together to get those shots. I have filmed 42 weddings this year and have 11 more to go before Christmas. I am hardly new to the game. But this was the first time I have ever run up against such a moron.
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Old September 20th, 2009, 05:10 PM   #2
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Steve, I'm very sorry to hear about your terrible experience. Too bad your camera didn't record any of these confrontations with him...it would have been great for his reputation to be on youtube or vimeo!
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Old September 20th, 2009, 05:22 PM   #3
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Steve, I'm very sorry to hear about your terrible experience. Too bad your camera didn't record any of these confrontations with him...it would have been great for his reputation to be on youtube or vimeo!
Thought of that the next day. But when you are working the last thing you need is disruption and my mind is on the job in hand. Would have been a very funny clip, though when I fired off at him I would have been embarressed watching it back myself.

He was one of those photographers that take thousands of shots per day. Click click click, click click click, click click click click. That would have been in about 15 seconds.
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Old September 20th, 2009, 05:55 PM   #4
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Steve.
He wasn't a bald headed bloke in his 30's was he ?
He sounds exactly like a tog i crossed paths with a while ago.

Paul.
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Old September 20th, 2009, 09:20 PM   #5
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The way I avoid this is I have my set prices for my events.. but if you pick a photographer that I love to work with, I give a discount. This way they I try to keep only working with the photographers that I like to work with, that I get a long with, and who like me as well.
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Old September 20th, 2009, 10:46 PM   #6
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Hi Steve

Sorry to hear that!! It must be absolutely devastating to arrive at the bride's door all happy and ready for action to be greeted like that!!! I'm surprised that the bride didn't say anything there!!!
I have only worked with one moron this season. Luckily when I did the guys getting ready, he failed to show and after doing the bride prep he arrived as I was leaving!! Whew!!

During the civil ceremony he was quite happy to stand in the aisle directly in front of my main camera and when politely asked to move just a little (it only needed to be a foot or so as it was a tight shot of the B&G) he responded. "I have to get my shots, you know!"

However he wasn't as bad as yours! He was arrogant but not foul mouthed!! Yours must have been a nightmare.

I have often thought about maybe hooking up with a really nice photographer and offering a video/photo combined package. Independently charged of course!! Does anyone do this??? It would solve the problem of working with morons!!!

Chris
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Old September 21st, 2009, 12:11 AM   #7
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Steve,

Excellent way to handle the situation. You did not let emotion spoil the reason you were there, to serve your client. It takes guts and conviction to not engage with somebody of that ilk.

Even though the conflict was present with the photographer, you still delivered the goods.

It is shocking how rude some people are though.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 12:15 AM   #8
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Man, I've had nightmares better than this. Sorry to hear about your woes. I don't think there is much you could have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20 and I'm sure you will find new things to add to your list. Every wedding is an educational experience, and when we refuse to learn from them, we've flunked. If you have a service like "Yelp.com", you might leave some of your story on such a sight that allows potential clients to see 'real-world' feedback regarding those vendors. It might serve as a warning to other photographers. But beware of the backlash. This bloke doesn't strike me as the type who would let sleeping dogs lie.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 02:02 AM   #9
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Steve.
He wasn't a bald headed bloke in his 30's was he ?
He sounds exactly like a tog i crossed paths with a while ago.

Paul.
Yes he was. Bald, 30's, from Tiverton. And very scruffy. The type that thinks he doesn't have to make the effort to dress smartly because he is the official photographer. He was in jeans and trainers. Totally disrespectful IMO.

I spoke to the owner of the castle about this guy, who I was told works there quite a lot, and she was singing his praises saying how wonderful his photographs were. I told her he might take nice photos but his people skills are zero and if he didn't learn to work with wedding videographers he was likely to get a smack in the mouth sooner rather than later.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 02:12 AM   #10
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Hi Steve

Sorry to hear that!! It must be absolutely devastating to arrive at the bride's door all happy and ready for action to be greeted like that!!! I'm surprised that the bride didn't say anything there!!!

Chris
She didn't know. I wasn't going to mention it on the day as it might have upset her and that would never had been considered. She knows now of course because we had a chat on the phone and she said she would have said something had she realised. The bride comes first and foremost and any spat between photographer and Videographer can be sorted and the right moment.

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Originally Posted by Tim Polster View Post
Steve,

Excellent way to handle the situation. You did not let emotion spoil the reason you were there, to serve your client. It takes guts and conviction to not engage with somebody of that ilk.

Even though the conflict was present with the photographer, you still delivered the goods.

It is shocking how rude some people are though.
Thanks. Luckily most of the time I work with photographers I know. If its a new face I make for them, shake their hands, introduce myself and have a chat about the day. Treat a photographer with respect and 99% of the time it will be reciprocated.

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Originally Posted by Oren Arieli View Post
Man, I've had nightmares better than this. Sorry to hear about your woes. I don't think there is much you could have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20 and I'm sure you will find new things to add to your list. Every wedding is an educational experience, and when we refuse to learn from them, we've flunked. If you have a service like "Yelp.com", you might leave some of your story on such a sight that allows potential clients to see 'real-world' feedback regarding those vendors. It might serve as a warning to other photographers. But beware of the backlash. This bloke doesn't strike me as the type who would let sleeping dogs lie.
No point in going online slagging the guy off by name. However, brides tend to book photographers first and if the situation arrived where she wanted my services I wouldn't give her a glowing review of said person.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 06:18 AM   #11
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Steve.
Scruffy, that's him, and working alone ?
I don' know his name so couldn't and wouldn't name him anyway.
Here's what happened with me.

My colleague was in the ceremony room chatting to the registrar, the tog was already in there as well, then i walked in, the tog took one look at me and said in a slightly raise voice
" oh no, there's not 2 of you video guys, that's just too much, i can't cope with that, i need a walk" and off he went, walked out the room in the middle of the conversation with the registrar, i just said " oh well, main road's that way, keep walking", the registrar said not to worry about him, he's been here before, no one likes him, not even the kitchen staff blah blah blah.

So, onto the ceremony, i'm at the back, my colleague is at the front on one side of the table for the face on shots of b&g and tog is on the other side, registrar makes a little speech stating that if anyone (looks at tog) takes any pics during the ceremony then she'll stop the ceremony because she's not putting up with that clicking all the time, the video guys are fine though because their cameras are quiet, you should've seen the togs face, i filmed it. So the ceremony all went well, no problems.

Outside after or mingling shots, and he keeps purposely getting in my shot, actually looking from a distance to see what i'm framing up then running over and jumping infront of me, so now i'm starting to boil a bit, so on to the confetti shot, he gathers everyone round the b&g, real close, so i try to poke my camera in from waist hieght, to get the shot of confetti falling down towards the lens, he see's this and grabs one of the bridesmaids ond shoves here infront of the camera, so i say " excuse me mate, you're not the only one working here", no reply, so i just push in again and get the shot.
He then takes the b&g off somewhere for the proper photocall, my colleague goes with him, syas it's better i stay away from him.

Speeches, this where i put a stop to his antics.
I've done weddings before at this venue so i know in advance the way the b&g walk in and where i can get a good shot of the speeches and keep out of the way of the guests, (it's a small venue), so i position myself at the front for the entrance and top table shot, my colleague/boss is at the back for the reaction shots, so we're both sorted, tripods levelled, shots framed etc when tog weaves his way through the tables as guests are staring to sit down, he comes up to me and says "move", i ignore him,
"i'm standing there" he says,
"no you're not" i say,
"i have precedence over you" he says
i look him straight in the eye and say quietly "piss off"
he walks off to my colleague (weaving through the tables with rucksack on bashing guests with it), has a moan to my colleague, who then gestures to me to let the tog have his spot, so i walk through the tables as the togs walking toward me back to "his" spot, smug look on his face, and we had to pass each other in the tight spot between tables cos no way am i gonna give way to him now, so as we're face to face in this spot, i say, right in his ear "i'll deal with you later outside",
"what do you mean ?" he says,
"you know what i mean, i'll see you later", i say,
off goes a nervous looking tog, i'm laughing inside but still a bit fuming.

B&G enter and sit down, we do a few shots then go off for some food in another room, my colleague is already in there having a quiet chat with the tog,i walk in and the tog asks me if we have some sort of problem,
"sort of" i say, "the way you talk to people is not on and i don't put up with that crap, there's no need of it so keep out of my way", i've gone past being diplomatic with this asshole, so he ask's to shake my hand and put our differences aside, so i shake his hand, all is well.
We shoot the speeches then i'm done for the day, my colleague stays for the night do.

This is the only time i've ever had a tog like this, usually i introduce myself to the tog and all is well.

Paul.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 06:36 AM   #12
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It sounds very much like the same guy Paul.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 07:49 AM   #13
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"i have precedence over you" he says
BINGO! I would have asked him "on what grounds". What good are your images if your a total arse and all the couple remember on the day is how this scruffy, mean man ruined their day?

We all need to get our shots, the cake lady needs to make the cake nice, the dressmaker needs to do a great job. No one person is above the vendors, only the bride, groom and their guests. THEN we all come in equal after that.

I would much rather have a bride and groom who were happy with their entire day and all the memories after than one who is dissapointed with any part of it.

There is just no need to treat a videographer like that. Regardless of your views on them what did he hope to achieve? Did he think you would say "Your right, ill just pack up and leave because they clearly dont want me here, despite having paid £xxxx for me".

Dont suppose you have his name, just so I can ensure we dont ever cross paths.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 12:12 PM   #14
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No i don't have his name Danny sorry.

Paul.
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Old September 21st, 2009, 12:54 PM   #15
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This goes way beyond just being a difficult photographer or just an ass. That guy has real mental health issues or borderline personality disorder.

I would make each of the B&Gs fully aware of what transpired (after the shoots) as a starting point. Im not sure what else you can do.

We can be guaranteed that something bad will happen in the future with that photographer. Whatever you do, don't let him get your home address. It's just a matter of time until he takes it to the next level.
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