The 5 things event photographers hate to hear!

I just finished another full day of shooting only to get home at midnight to start the download process. As I waited for the images to make their way from my memory cards to my computer, I started thinking about the 14 previous hours. I had worked really hard to make sure that I captured the entire day for my client. I was running around, climbing up on things, getting down on the floor, bending my body in all kids of ways, and I was physically and mentally exhausted. The majority of my clients fully appreciate my work, which is a great feeling. But there are still some people who think that we just hit a button on our camera, and that is the extent of our talents. It was at this point that I started to think of the top 5 things clients say that drive us event photographers crazy. Here is what I came up with:

Great camera... yeah... it was the camera.

1. “Nice pictures. You must have a great camera.”

This is the grand daddy of all of them! I have heard this so many times that it makes me cringe. People assume that a good camera takes a good photo. Really? Would you tell the chef in a restaurant, “Wow, that meal was delicious, you must have really good pots and pans?” It is our job to remind people that cameras are our tools from which we create art. It is also our responsibility to control that camera to create amazing images, to prove our point. People ask me why I share my techniques on my blog. I share them for two reasons. First, I believe in teaching others like my mentors have taught me. Secondly, when I explain the thought process behind an image, and describe the settings that I chose for that shot, it helps my clients (who do read my blog) further understand that I am creating the photo, not the camera.

Friend with a nice camera... ugh!

2. “We would hire you, but my friend has a DSLR and he/she can shoot it…”

I am sure that every event photographer has heard this countless times. This goes right back to my first point. Just because they have a DSLR, does not make them qualified to shoot your event. Now when people say this to me, I actually smile at them, pause for a couple of seconds, and then try to explain the challenges of good photography. But, I do so in a couple of seconds. If they seem to understand my reasoning, then I will continue talking to them. If not, I end the conversation immediately since there is no reason to continue talking with them. (And then I walk away, cringing at the thought of a novice trying to shoot the first dance in a very dark room with no knowledge of how to use their camera or flash.)

3. “Can't you just give me your unedited images? That would be easier right?”

I know that some photographers have no problem in giving away their unedited images, but I refuse to do so. Why? Because I feel that these images are only half done. When a client gets my finished products, I want them to be perfect. Those images represent me and my brand. It is true that it would be very easy to burn a CD and hand it over to my clients. But this also means that they have images, which they are going to show to all their friends and family, that do not show my best work. Would Mercedes or BMW sell an automobile that is half built? No way!

4. “Do you mind if our friend shoots too?”

This is a tough one. I have had clients ask me this question, and although I am not happy about it, I usually end up agreeing to this (with some words of warning). I have seen this situation go two ways. First, the friend is respectful of my work and makes sure not to interfere with me and my shots. Then there is the second scenario where the friend (or family member in this case) followed me everywhere and tried to capture images of the same groups that I had posed. This is really irritating because it means that I end up with photos with half of the people looking at the wrong camera. Ughhh.

Outdoor weddings are VERY tricky--especially if it's at a bad time of day!

5. “Can you shoot my wedding? It is outside at noon.”

This one always gets me. Yeah, I know…people are going to plan their weddings whenever they want, and as professional photographers we are trained to handle any situation, but it still pains me to think of the potential shadow and light mixture that I could be fighting against. Can’t we just make a national law against mid-day outdoor weddings? Enough said!

Runners up:

“Those are great images. You got really lucky.”

“Can you remove my wrinkles, removes the bags under my eyes, fix my hair on every image?”

“I saw you shoot thousands of images but only see 400 on our gallery. Can we see the rest?”


52 thoughts on “The 5 things event photographers hate to hear!”

  1. Hi! I can not read the headers / questions. It was fun figuring them out from your reasoning about it, but I guess you have a stronger point with the headers in place.

    And: Oh, yeah, they all think it’s the camera doing it. I get those comments all the time, too. Handing them the camera in whatever status it is in and asking them for a photo is usually a drastic way of coping with this situation. I have great samples of hedges and walls, doors and whatever and I entirely desolve infront of them, just by placing myself out of the focus spot. But I only do that rarely since I prefer to keep my camera in my own hands.

  2. Although I understand why you would not want customers showing off ‘half finished’ pictures I can understand why they would want access to all the files themselves.

  3. As a former pro photographer (now retired), I spent a long time with a bride trying to convince her that ALL the images would not be suitable for viewing.
    She insisted I post all of them on my website, so her whole family could see them.
    Finally I agreed…the fourth photo showed the bride walking into the church, picking her nose like it was a gold mine.
    She apologized. After that, I told the story every time someone brought it up.

  4. @Frauke

    I have that same issue when I read this blog in Internet Explorer but not when I use Google Chrome.

    These are all good points to remember if I ever decide to get more serious. Thanks for the article!

  5. I am interested in taking your beginner class………but I will be away for most of your Feb. class…….do you have any idea when you will be offering your next class ? Thanks !

  6. Very much enjoy hearing of your experiences and your clever comebacks to the insensitive and “un”professional professional photographers. I have so much to learn…why not learn it from you!?

  7. Yeah, especially the 2nd and 4th!
    All these things have happened to me and in the end I’m like “THANK GOD it’s over!”
    People are sooooooo rude and they think that this job is really easy…Guess what people! NOPE it’s not! (but we love it :P)

  8. I found myself in the other side of point 2. I was the friend asked to take the pictures.
    I really advised that they get a real photographer, not just an amateur like me.
    There was no point. And they asked another friend, too.
    I hate every single moment of it, too much pressure, and knowing I was not good enough.
    It even made me lose the passion for photography for a while.

    I can relate to most of the point even not being a pro.

  9. How many times have I set up a group shot and then had a bunch of folks shoot the group from over my shoulder?

    Once I got sick of it, and all the waiting for everyone else to copy my photo like a cheap xerox. As the next group gathered, I told the faux-tographers to get their shot first, and then I’d get mine. When they asked me to pose it, and I said that I’d let them pose their image, a guy cursed me.

  10. On the flip side there are event photogs who treat anyone else there with a camera as the bubonic plague. Sorry but you don’t get the sole right to the event. I was at a State Capital building the other day staying clear of the 5 bridal pro’s and never being in their way, scene not making a peep yet they ALL gave me the stink eye, sneers, made comments to their assistant and whatnot. They all came off as jackasses to their clients iyam.

  11. I couldn’t agree more with refusing to give clients unedited photos. Sure, it would be a lot easier, faster and cheaper, but the client won’t be as satisfied either. I never want to give my clients anything less than the best photography.
    I don’t really mind other people taking snapshots at events as long as they aren’t in my way or distracting my subjects. They can capture my posed scene, but it won’t be the same as my image. It’s when they pull the subject’s attention away from me, or walk in front of me that gets frustrating.
    It is a constant process of educating potential clients of the value they get from professional photography rather what they can shoot with their own DSLR. Unfortunately some people just don’t see the difference in the final product, and don’t consider it worth the price. That’s ok though, and you have good advice to not spend too much time explaining all the details.

  12. I can see your point about not giving your clients all the unedited images as well as the 400 edited ones, even though I am one of those photographers who gives my clients all the unedited images as well. I give my clients all the pictures for two reasons: 1, I normally end up only ending up with approximately 250-300 good pictures that I end up editing and can’t justify in my mind why a client should pay so much money for only +-245 images, secondly the law in my country states that the copyright of commissioned work belongs to the one who commissioned the work, which means that all the pictures taken actually belong to the person who is paying me to do the shoot.

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