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Thread: A question of bad form.

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    A question of bad form.

    I think this is probably a relevant question for this forum. First the back story. A good friend of my wife's is getting married on New Years Day. I have permission to take pictures from the prospective groom of the wedding on behalf of my wife and to give them an alternative set on DVD in exchange for permission to use any worthwhiles for portfolio, which I am happy with for getting more practice in a slightly less pressured environment. The question is somewhat hypothetical, but would you consider it bad form if you turned up to shoot a wedding as the paid tog, only to be 'outgunned' by someone else taking a more relaxed set of shots of the event with similar or more imposing gear (I know mine isnt particularly but surely other have been in this situation)? I know its a bit of a silly question but I dont really want cause a faux pas.
    John
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    My immediate thought was "Boys comparing toys!!"
    It could easily turn into bad form but having met you I think you could easily and quickly knock that on the head by introducing yourself to the "Paid" tog and explaining the arrangement. If they are a half way reasonable person and you avoid impinging on their shots then I can see no problem.
    I hope it goes well.
    Peter.

    Some of my photo's are at www.peterking.id.au

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    First question is are you sure you know how the paid tog would be shooting, because that would make a difference.

    If its something where you're not going to be competing with the tog, and you're not distracting, then I see no problem.

    If on the other hand you're trying to set up shots, relaxed or not, then the tog has a job to do, and dealing with competing demands for "eye-lines" is an added problem that's a bit unnecessary.

    The question of "out-gunned", doesnt phase me, but others may find themselves under pressure. Its not the size of the lens, its what you do with it

    And as a decent percentage of paid togs these days tend to be female, I dont think there would be a "boys comparing toys" situation. Most paid togs would also be immersed in the job at hand rather than worrying about comparisons, which can be done any other time.

    But having said all of that, I'd think that it could easily go pear shape, and it would be better to give the paid tog some warning before the day to see if it's an issue. That would probably be the fairest thing to consider, as opposed to simply giving the tog no chance to comment (because they're busy), and then placing an unwarranted risk of changing their creative output.

    While its common place to see most guests with a camera, often many of them with a DSLR, its not so common to see someone "working" the wedding in an effort to produce an "alternative SET of images". The recent weddings I've been to, I personally will not carry a camera, as I would prefer to ensure my mind is on the celebrating my friends joy; but the paid togs have always been surprisingly accommodating to those keen to get their own shots. So what I'm saying is that its a fact of todays life that everyone will be carrying their own cameras. Its not so normal for someone to be clearly on a project to produce a set of alternative images.

    Just my thoughts.
    William

    www.longshots.com.au

    I am the PhotoWatchDog

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    it only becomes bad form if the paid pro isn't sure of their skills. Any pro should act professionally and be 100 sure of their gear and skills, and therefore should not be concerned about someone else with bigger guns. After all, it is the gear and the SKILLS that get the wedding shots, not just the gear. There are plenty of gear heads out there with $20K of gear, who take nothing better than a facebook snap.
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    Well to add to that, yes while its good to assume that every tog is sure of their skills, if it unsettles them, or distracts them, or the other tog is simply getting in the way of the paid photographers shooting plan, then its not just bad form, its also going to distract the tog to the point where they may end up producing something less than they would have accomplished without another person competing with them.

    If you want to put yourself in the place of that person, think about you own job, and what you do during your time, and literally imagine a volunteer trying to achieve exactly the same as yourself, but doing it differently, communicating differently, and having a totally different goal at the end of the day to what you would normally do. And doing what you earn a living from, or get paid for, as a gift. How many of you are that sure of your skills, experience and knowledge, not to be unsettled by even a small amount ? And if you were honest enough to say that you would be unsettled, then ask yourself the next question, would you reach the same level of productivity that you would achieve if you were in your usual working environment/conditions ?

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    I think it would be good manners to ask the couple to either introduce you to the paid tog so you could have a chat/clear it with them or get the couple to do this.

    And to my mind it would be candid 'on the fly' shots only, no set up shots that might compete with the paid tog's shots and thus (potentially) deprive them of income from prints.

    However, if they have a pre-agreed package then you could pretty much go open elther as they are getting paid no matter what shots you take.

    But common courtesy would prevail, just to turn up unannounced on the day I would consider extremely bad form
    Odille

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    Any wedding tog with experience and confidence in their own ability shouldn't be concerned with a guest with better equipment. It is what you do with it that is important.

    A lot of your question would be dependent on the package that the bride and groom are purchasing. If it includes a DVD with all hi res images then to a certain extent knock your socks off. If it doesn't include all the images and they are available for purchase at a later date then I think there are limitations on what you do.

    If you are truly after a set of alternate images then I would have no problems with you taking whatever you like. If you come over and shadow the shots that I set up with the intention of giving the bride & groom a copy then I have an issue.

    I would also have an issue with what you plan to do with these images to increase your portfolio. If you plan to use them in print form again go for your life. If you plan to use them on a website, blog or other forms of media to advertise your work then I think that is very poor form. Most, if not all, professional togs will have a no compete / only professional tog clause in their contract. If you plan to use the images to promote yourself on electronic media without being the paid tog then their will be 2 sets of images from the one wedding doing the rounds possibly confusing the issue for the paid tog.

    My $0.02 worth.
    Vince

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    I think Vince has hit the nail on the head. Last year I turned up at a wedding as a guest with my pro-gear, I noted a well known colleague was shooting, said hello and asked if he had any objections to my shooting candids at long range. No problems, very amicable and i even helped him out. However I didn't give my shots to the couple until I knew the tog had met and given/sold his shots to them.
    Do unto others.....
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    I thionk the problem only arises if as said before you are distracting the couple's attention while the pro is trying to do his job....Ive seen this happen a fair bit. But as also said a bit of common courtsey goes a long way.
    Darren
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    Any real Pro is not going to be concerned about other people taking shots. If He/She is a real pro then they should not worry too much about am's shots outshinning theirs. And I guess you will get someone who turns up with thier mega bucks outfit, maybe serious am', maybe not. Good points by Ricktas and Kiwi. Have a great day when it arrives. Hopefully the pro is aa approachable sort, and you can have a chat.

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    Happens all the time and it is not a bad idea to have a backup photographer to take images from a different perspective. No real pro would worry about you or about whether yours is bigger than his ( or maybe even hers)

    BTW forgot to mention it would be polite if you tell the pro what you would like to do (at the request of the groom) and make sure you do not get hin the pro's way. After all, the pro is getting paid and has the serious responsibility to get it right on the day.
    Last edited by mongo; 05-11-2010 at 11:46am.
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    Ausphotography Regular gcflora's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Longshots View Post
    If you want to put yourself in the place of that person, think about you own job, and what you do during your time, and literally imagine a volunteer trying to achieve exactly the same as yourself, but doing it differently, communicating differently, and having a totally different goal at the end of the day to what you would normally do. And doing what you earn a living from, or get paid for, as a gift. How many of you are that sure of your skills, experience and knowledge, not to be unsettled by even a small amount ? And if you were honest enough to say that you would be unsettled, then ask yourself the next question, would you reach the same level of productivity that you would achieve if you were in your usual working environment/conditions ?
    I can honestly say that it would not unsettle me. But saying that my work gets submitted to all levels of government and business and is assessed continually by my peers (not just at work but at the aforementioned institutions) anyway and I'd just regard the volunteer as yet another peer. It makes no difference to me. People will disagree with what I write or sometimes even do something better (although that's unlikely hehe... j/k). If they do a better job than me, then that benefits me directly because it shows me how I can improve. Maybe it's just a matter of perspective...
    Craig

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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    If I was the paid tog, I couldn't really care less who turned up to take photos as long as they didn't impede what I was doing as the paid tog as this may impact on my results. As Mongo says, they can be a valuable back up for any missed opportunities and I would point this out to the wedding couple.

    Having done a couple of weddings, not as the paid tog but as a friend to take the casual photos like you describe in you original post, I have been welcomed by the paid tog but I made sure I kept out of his way. Personally, I like the more laid back and informal photos moreso than the formal poses but realistically, I do think you need both for a "proper" wedding shoot.

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    Ausphotography Regular gcflora's Avatar
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    Adding to my last post let's assume for a second that the paid photographer's work ends up being worse than the volunteer's. There are a couple of ways the paid photographer can react: a) get all &#$*y, take it personally and make excuses about how much pressure he was under, or whatever; or b) LEARN from the experience. Now, the choice that the paid photographer makes is his/her choice and nothing to do with the volunteer at all IMO. IF the volunteer genuinely got in the way and impeded the paid photographer's work then that would be a different story. But if the volunteer and the paid photographer both behave in a professional manner then I can't see any problem. The implicit suggestion in the last sentence is that the volunteer has a responsibility to behave professionally as well and ensure that they do not "get in the way of" the paid photographer; if a conflict of positioning for a shot or whatever occurs then "professionally" the volunteer should cede that position to the paid photographer. To put it simply the two parties should just respect each other and try and keep out of each others way.

    Cheers
    Last edited by gcflora; 05-11-2010 at 12:47pm.

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    I've had it happen to me on occasions and it did worry me, but not the level that many here have suggested.

    It's not an ego worry, not at all. I can control my output and the quality of my work. It's a perception worry.

    I am more worried about the way it looks to guests and venue staff who can (and do) very easily assume that all the 'pro' photographers are working together. There have been times when guests have made comments about my "associate" or my "2nd shooter" and I have had to explain that I have no idea how they are... "Oh, we just assumed he was working with you".

    The thought of someone else inadvertently representing me in attitude, demeanor and conduct is frightening.

    I've even had someone make a comment about someone they thought was working with me drinking on the job. True story.

    I know it can be hard to put yourself in the shoes of a career professional, because (for many of you) it's outside your experience, but it doesn't hurt to look at things from all angles.

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    This is great info. I am shooting my neice's wedding next year, but only as a member of the family. There will be a paid tog there and I was a little concerned how to approach it. Great advice, thanks

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    Thanks for all the advice and suggestions folks. Figured it might stimulate a bit of discussion.

    From what ive seen at a few other weddings where I have been in this position, some of these "pros" dont really have that much of a handle on their gear or their shots. Which led somewhat to the question.

    I certainly wouldnt be getting the paid togs way or trying to cherry pick their shots/distract the couple, as I certainly wouldnt want that to happen when I was shooting it. I have at previous weddings in a similar situation sat back and shot from a bit of distance/candid for more natural and informal shots anyway and in one case fortunately I did as the "pro" disappointed. Regarding the portfolio, yes its just for a print perspective, its not often you get an opportunity to experiment with different ideas without having to worry about getting the event and cermony from top to toe and I envisage adding these to the stuff I have from a few other weddings ive shot formally as the tog to give prospective clients different ideas to what I can do to personalise their own event.

    Will definitely speak to the paid tog, might offer interesting info anyway.

    Also thanks for the point on the DVD, definitely will be ensuring thats the case.

    Cheers .

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    Mongo agrees with some of what Zeke has said and would add to Mongo’s original post as follows. For those family members who know who you are – that’s fine. However for everyone else, you should try to distinguish yourself from the “official photographer” even by wearing a small label on your shirt/coat which say “Guest only” or “not the photographer” or whatever might convey the message quickly and simply. This should help somewhat and Mongo does not believe it should ever get to the point that it would be undesirable for you to help take extra photos.

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    Ausphotography Regular gcflora's Avatar
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    The more I think about this the more I think "who cares what the paid photographer thinks" (sorry Zeke, and I do agree with your points)

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    It's not really to me an issue of what the pro thinks, it's whether I'd be getting in the way, inadvertently perhaps...if I was the bride and had paid $5k I'd want to make sure there were no excuses

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