Don’t Be That Guy

Recently, a fellow photographer posted an image on Facebook from a recent wedding, which sparked a lengthy discussion about proper wedding photography etiquette.

There were moments that became almost heated, actually.  There were lots of strong opinions thrown out there, and I’ll admit to having some fairly colorful retorts myself when I saw the image the first time.  But by and large, the point I am going to stress here is: Don’t be That Guy!

Don't-Be-That-Guy(photo courtesy of Jessica Patterson Photography)

We all know “That Guy.”  There’s always one, right?

Please don’t be that guy.

I mean, look at this photo.  Everyone looks beautiful, there’s the gorgeous bride and her beautiful bridesmaids, you have the happy parents, the dapper groomsmen…and then THAT GUY.

To her credit, Jessica took this completely in stride, remaining admirably professional and even laughing about it.

She’s probably a better person than I am.  😉

The thing is, I think there really can be a place for silly photos.  I often take them myself.  After photographing a series of straight formal photos, I will often say “Okay, let’s be a little goofy, everyone make a silly face!”  It can be a great way to get the bridal party to relax, and it relieves a tiny bit of the stress.  Depending on my bride, the silly shots will generally happen.

But in those cases, everyone is being silly, it’s something they’re all doing together.  When someone decides to be goofy all in his own, it stands out.  And not in a good way.  Wait for the silly picture time and be a dork with everyone else.  And if the photographer never does any “silly shots,” save the goofball act for taking snapshots on your point-and-click with the other guests.  You have to be an adult until then.

And I think that’s part of what kills me about this shot!  I expect that the occasional kid will pull something like that in the formal shots, it happens all the time.  But in this case, look at the flower girl — totally calm and collected, acting like a big girl and behaving herself.  It makes “That Guy” stand out even more, and I keep thinking “What, are you six?”  And it wasn’t even in the one shot, he did this in every single one.

Bottom line, there is an etiquette involved in taking the formal wedding photos.  Please observe it.  This is about the bride and groom, it isn’t about you — but all I can look at is that goofy expression!  It draws my attention away from the main attraction.  It is rude and disrespectful to them.  It’s childish and immature.  Really.  Don’t be That Guy.

As a bride, if this were the kind of shot I had to deal with, I would be in tears.  Chances are, the bride wants at least one shot where everyone looks nice, where no one is being silly. I would be unbelievably frustrated if it were me.  And I’d have been extremely angry with the groomsman.  Don’t ruin someone else’s shots.  The bride and groom are paying someone for these, they expect them to look professional.

Which brings me to the other point, it is disrespectful to the photographer as well.  This is their job, and they want to do it well.  You are interfering with that.  They want beautiful photos they can display on their website or hang in their personal studio to attract other clients and show off what they can do.  All they want is a good photo they can be proud of, and that the bride will love.  When they keep getting shot after shot of this, it can be incredibly frustrating.  Respect their professionalism.

Don’t.  Be.  That.  Guy.

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