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


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Old July 8th, 2007, 02:18 PM   #1
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Photographer Behavior

So most weddings I do nowadays I get to work with my photographer wife, and things go pretty well. But we had separate weddings this weekend and now I remember one of the reasons I really prefer to work with her anymore.

For the ceremony I had a wide-angle camera on a tripod right at the back of the center aisle. The ceremony was at country club, and the place was PACKED with seating, so much so that there weren't any side aisles. The only way back to the camera was down the center aisle.

Now before the ceremony I'm making final adjustments to the wide-angle camera while the photographer was right next to me getting her gear ready. At one point she even asks if I'm using the seat next to my camera, and I say no, so she stores her gear there.

Anyways, the ceremony starts and my wide-angle camera is already running and I'm up front with my assistant running 2 other cameras. As the groom is walking his mother down the aisle I notice that the photog is standing right in front of my wide-angle camera, about a foot in front of it, completely blocking the shot. I spend the next several minutes trying to get her attention without be distracting to the guests (yeah, try and do that from 100 feet away). She's not seeing me and the bride will be coming down the aisle soon.

I don't know what to do. My only options are to leave her blocking my camera or walk right down the center aisle and squeeze past the wedding party as they walk to the front. Both are horrible options. I need the footage from the wide-angle, but it would be extremely distracting to be squeezing past the bridal party as they try to walk down the aisle past me, plus I'm shooting handheld with my unit, so I'd be losing footage from that cam as well.

Finally, one of the ushers near me noticed the issue I was having, and he took it upon himself to walk down the aisle and inform the photog that she was blocking my camera. She had this shocked look on her face, and I sincerely believe that she didn't block the camera on purpose, but jeez. I would think a professional would be a bit more aware than that.

For the rest of the ceremony I was very busy moving around getting creative shots, and I'm really worried that she ended up in front of that camera again. Anyways, I just had to get that off my chest. I try so hard to stay out of the photog's way, and it really pisses me off when they don't return the favor.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 02:28 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
She had this shocked look on her face, and I sincerely believe that she didn't block the camera on purpose, but jeez. I would think a professional would be a bit more aware than that.
It's the danger of a locked off, unmanned camera. I can well imagine that to a photographer unmanned=not running, and if she noticed it at all presumably thought it was rigged ready to be manned and used later on. I can only suggest that any unmanned cameras are mounted on very high tripods, high enough to see over anyone standing right in front..........
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Old July 8th, 2007, 02:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
She had this shocked look on her face, and I sincerely believe that she didn't block the camera on purpose, but jeez. I would think a professional would be a bit more aware than that.
I don't know why you titled this thread "unbelievable" Travis, as to me it's perfectly believable. This photographer was in her own world, completely oblivious to anything but her subject and the frame she's looking through. Not hard to believe at all. Unfortunate, but not hard to believe.

Back when I shot weddings, I worked most all of them with photographers I knew, who were as conscious of me working the job as I was of them. Most weddings I shot were photographed by a photographer with whom we shared studio space, so it was a very good relationship.

Anytime I had to work with a photographer I didn't know, I always made it a point to introduce myself straight away and immediately start talking about how we could best work together to provide the customer with the best images possible, which usually meant a clear understanding of how to stay out of each other's way in critical moments.

Here's hoping that you'll soon reach a position where you can turn away any work that doesn't involve your wife as the photographer. Eventually that's what I did... I got to the point where I wouldn't shoot a wedding unless our studio partner was the photographer, or at least someone we knew and had worked with before.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 03:27 PM   #4
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Two thoughts: squirt gun or laser pen.

A squirt gun is probably over the top, but will get the photog to move. The guests might find it entertaining as well! ;o)

A laser pen would catch the attention of the photog, but they might think it rude. Actually, though, in this case you could've lasered your assistants and they would've known what to do. My wife and I are often trying to get each other's attention. Hmm...maybe the laser is a good idea.

Realistically, it's touchy. You want referrals from photogs, so it pays to be courteous. I use a photographer's light pole for my unmanned cam. It stands 12-14 feet off the ground. The only problem I've had it that it can sway back and forth if it's too high, or on a bad floor.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 03:28 PM   #5
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Chris, what led you away from weddings?
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Old July 8th, 2007, 04:17 PM   #6
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After the last wedding I did with a bunch of guests that stood throughout the processional shooting pix with disposable cameras (really...) and the one relative who planted himself right in front in the middle with a 35mm non-SLR cam for the same time... I'm thinking blowgun with tranq darts...

In another thread, I was referred to one that looks much like a monopod, so perhaps a dual purpose device... that laser idea is intriguing though...

Just killed my processional footage, but oh well, I've got tricks in editing, and people are going to be moving REALLY slow!! I always liked that look anyway 8-P It was for friends, they were just glad to have ANY coverage, and I wanted to try out a couple new toys, but I'm putting a "No pictures" clause back in the old contract! Everyone with a disposable/cell phone cam thinks they're Ansel Adams or something nowadays... the joys of modern technology for the masses swing both ways!

Travis - check around for a Sunpak 7500 tripod - the "75" refers to the height in inches - yep, it's over 6 ft, so unless Herman Munster is in the crowd, your wide safety shot is pretty safe. I learned fast that unless your camera can be up high (and not all venues have a balcony or elevated sound booth), don't count on that angle - so I've picked up a couple 6ft+ pods - weigh a bit more, but worth having every time! Not easy to find pods that tall, but they can be found - the Sunpak is easy to find for around $80 (the head is commensurate with that price, but you'll be locked down).
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Old July 8th, 2007, 05:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
It's the danger of a locked off, unmanned camera. I can well imagine that to a photographer unmanned=not running, and if she noticed it at all presumably thought it was rigged ready to be manned and used later on. I can only suggest that any unmanned cameras are mounted on very high tripods, high enough to see over anyone standing right in front..........
Well, the country club staff had promised to set up a table that I could put my tripod on and have it up high and out of the way. We arrived on location after the photoshoot, and there was no table available and no room to set one up anyways at that point.

I literally only had one place to put that camera to get a shot, and once I left it I couldnt' get back to it until afterwards. There wasn't even enough room to extend the tripod legs out, so I had to go with a low shot down the aisle. As it was the bride STILL caught her dress on one of the legs. It was just a really bad setup for video.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 06:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Chris Hurd View Post
I don't know why you titled this thread "unbelievable" Travis, as to me it's perfectly believable. This photographer was in her own world, completely oblivious to anything but her subject and the frame she's looking through. Not hard to believe at all. Unfortunate, but not hard to believe.
Well, the thing is, the photographer had space available to her right next to the camera. And we discussed the fact that my camera was there while setting up for the ceremony. A professional would make a note in their minds that they can't stand there to get any shots, just like I noted where she and her assistant were so that I wouldn't block their shots. I just feel it's unbelievably unprofessional to do what she did.

Also, after reflecting on this a little more I'm not so sure she didn't just ignore the fact that the camera was there in order to get the shots SHE wanted. The whole "look of surprise" may have just been for the benefit of the usher and the nearby guests. I just find it really hard to believe that someone can spend 10-20 minutes waiting next to a camera and then suddenly forget that it's there. A guest . . maybe . . but a photographer . . hard to believe.

And Chris, I totally agree that it will be nice to reach a point where I only work with photographers I know and trust. Definitely.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 06:31 PM   #9
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I suspect it's more just a case of the photographer being completely oblivious to whether or not she was blocking your camera. As someone else said, her thoughts were on what was happening in front of her and that was it. We can hope that photographers notice our cameras but I wouldn't ever count on it -- once I figured that out I bought an extra-tall Bogen tripod I can use in a pinch. They have several models which are taller than normal: here's one example but it's not the one I got:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...s_Chrome_.html
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Old July 8th, 2007, 06:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kevin Shaw View Post
We can hope that photographers notice our cameras but I wouldn't ever count on it -- once I figured that out I bought an extra-tall Bogen tripod I can use in a pinch. They have several models which are taller than normal: here's one example but it's not the one I got:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...s_Chrome_.html
Kevin, I have that same tripod in black. And you're right, it gets up there above everyone's head. I was quite surprised when I got that thing a few years ago along with the XL1 (both used) and extended both leg sections then cranked the center column.

That's really the best way to avoid these situations. Use tall sticks, or find higher ground.

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Old July 8th, 2007, 07:52 PM   #11
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I suspect it's more just a case of the photographer being completely oblivious to whether or not she was blocking your camera. As someone else said, her thoughts were on what was happening in front of her and that was it. We can hope that photographers notice our cameras but I wouldn't ever count on it -- once I figured that out I bought an extra-tall Bogen tripod I can use in a pinch. They have several models which are taller than normal: here's one example but it's not the one I got:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...s_Chrome_.html
I'll check out that tripod, because I've really been wanting to get a tripod that can extend above heads. Thanks for the link.

As for the photographer, I don't think it's any excuse for her to say she was focusing on what was going on in front of her. Like I said before, she had plenty of advance warning as to where my camera was. If I can be courteous regarding her position during the photoshoot, then she can keep in mind where my camera is. It's absolutely no excuse for her to block a camera that she KNEW was there. Very unprofessional.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 08:20 PM   #12
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Though I agree it was unprofessional of the photographer to stand in front of your camera, this issue has been discussed on this forum and Travis participated in that thread.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...light=unmanned

The gist of the conversation was that unmanned cameras are fine if put in a good location and if there are already two manned cameras. The issue of how much to pay a second operator was brought up and $20-$40 was deemed insufficient no matter how inexperienced they are. Even if that operator just helped carry gear and kept an eye on your camera it is worth paying them $100.

I mostly disagree with the consensus of that thread as I don't think unmanned cameras are worthwhile. I used an unmanned camera on my first wedding and had this exact problem. The second wedding I used one I put it on my 7' tall tripod and I still did not think it worthwhile as I didn't like the static camera. I felt it only to be useful for a few quick cutaways and an expensive camera is too valuable to be wasted.

I hoped that bringing up my experiences would warn people away from depending on an unmanned camera. I hope that Travis' experience added to mine will really make people think twice of having only two cameras and one of them unmanned. It would be better to use that second camera as a tape deck in your backpack so you can send a firewire to it to duplicate the footage from your main camera.
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Old July 8th, 2007, 09:43 PM   #13
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I just got back from shooting a wedding the other weekend and had the same problem but it wasn't with an un-maned camera. I was standing in the same spot throughout the entire wedding with the photographer standing next to me so she obviously knew I was there and when the minister announced Mr. and Mrs. Smith she walked up and stood right in front of my camera as they turned to the audience. I was furious. I'm glad I had my two other locked off cams to cut to. I don't know if she was just that unprofessional or if it's because when they asked what company I worked for I told them I was just the brother-in-law of the groom. All I know is I didn't have any respect for her the rest of the day.
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Old July 9th, 2007, 12:16 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
It's absolutely no excuse for her to block a camera that she KNEW was there. Very unprofessional.
It's not an excuse; it's just the way things are with some photographers - they're simply not thinking about the video cameras. Better to use a taller tripod next time than hope the photographer will be more professional...
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Old July 9th, 2007, 08:51 AM   #15
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Better to use a taller tripod next time than hope the photographer will be more professional...
I agree with Kevin wholeheartedly, it's much better that you assure your set-up is idiot proof and safe from this sort of thing than to rely on something you ultimately can't control.

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Chris, what led you away from weddings?
It was a combination of things that happened to occur pretty much all together... the photographer who shared the studio with us got married and moved away, and I found a lot of new work shooting the Central Texas rave scene which was really booming at the time, so there went my Saturday nights. There was only one occasion where I shot a wedding and went straight from there to shoot a party that went until dawn, if I had been in my 20's then maybe I could have handled that kind of schedule consistently, but once was enough for me.

The rave circuit was imminently more fun and more interesting to me than the wedding market; too bad it couldn't last. By then I wanted my weekends free, although my wife has shot a couple of weddings for friends and has been bitten by the bug a little bit, so the option to get back in the game is something we're still holding open.
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