The ‘No’ Photographer

I can’t say no. Which is why I learned to never let a salesman/woman to even begin their pitch. I have to cut them off after hello, otherwise I get sucked in and end up paying many a dollar for something I didn’t want or need.

About a one and a half years ago, my sister-in-law asked me to take pictures for her at her son’s wedding so she didn’t have to. I accepted and ended up having a lot of fun. The best part since I wasn’t the official photographer (nor was there one at the wedding, so I didn’t feel like an intruder), there was little by way of expectation. If only a few photos turned out perfect, some good and the rest okay, I wasn’t going to disappoint anyone. They got them all for free, after all.

Last night some friends invited us to a bonfire. The weather has been so nice lately, and the fire immense and warm, we didn’t have to wear coats.

The couple recently got engaged, and they’re starting to plan the wedding (although no date set, mostly due to expense). The subject of photographers came up, and she expressed a bit of dismay at the cost. They are not cheap. $3,000 is about the average.

Knowing I photograph and once took pictures of her dog for her, she asked if I would consider doing her wedding.

Hmm. I didn’t say yes, but I didn’t say no, either. I said I would consider it, though.

It’s one thing to take pictures when no one is paying you with no expectations as far as quality, but being hired is a different animal altogether. Brides — and rightly so — want everything to be perfect, and the photography is no exception. Since I know the bride-to-be, Jen, and her being one of the nicest people in the world, I’m not too worried about her going all bridezilla on me.

It’s her and her future husband’s family that worry me a bit. The groom’s family is large, and one even gave the bride a list of dates she’s free for the wedding. Yep, the family member (a cousin) actually expects the couple to work around her schedule when planning the wedding.

And if one is that audacious, what is she and the rest of the family going to be like when the wedding takes place. And I’m going to be taking pictures of them? Ugh.

The one thing I am going to have to do is not be a sucker, and be emphatic with the word ‘no.’ If I accept this wedding gig, I will have to tell the family from the get-go that my word is law when it comes to the photography. I even told Jen last night that she should tell all guests that no cameras or camera phones are allowed during the ceremony, or even during the official wedding photographs. At the reception is different. They can take pictures to their heart’s content.

After all, why pay for a professional photographer if everyone with a camera phone jumps up, blocks people’s view (including the paid photographer) to get their shot, and try be the first to post on Facebook and Instagram?

Not only is it rude, but guests taking pictures are so busy clicking and sharing away, they don’t take the time to enjoy the actual ceremony.

Whether or not I have the wherewithal to be the “no” photographer remains to be seen. I hope so, but I don’t know. I’ll have to keep reminding myself that I am there for the bride and groom first, their parents a distant second, and the bridesmaids, groomsmen, remaining family, and other guests have zero say in the matter. Not unless they want to pay me more than what the bride and groom are paying me — cash up front, no checks or credit cards accepted, no discounts or rebates, no exceptions.

And I do expect to get paid. Just not $3,000. I’m not professional enough for those prices.

In the meantime, I have a lot of studying to do on how best to take pictures of weddings.

Assuming I say yes, that is.

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