As a long time wedding photographer, I have had to deal with any number of “issues” that happen on wedding days. From the “little too tipsy” Uncle Charlie to the Bride and Groom having an “after the ceremony” little flair up. Either way, as a photographer, you are prepared for it or your not.
One disturbing “trend” that you as a Bride need to be aware of is “vendor-photographers”. So what exactly IS a “vendor-photographer’? I mean you’re hiring a vendor of photography services, so why should “this” concern you?
Recently, vendors of wedding services like your florist, DJ, venue or even your caterer are now either hiring or bringing their own “professional photographer” to document you using their services on your wedding day. In most every case, you had no clue that was going to happen. Your florist decides they want photos of you and your bouquet and your bridesmaids bouquet with all of you holding them. So they bring their OWN photographer to document every minute of that happening. Or perhaps it’s the caterer or even your Wedding Planner.
No matter how it happens, in most cases you are put right in the middle of what they are doing- creating a massive advertising campaign with YOU and their services as the “spotlight” for use in flyers, ads, Social media- you name it!
You spent perhaps days or weeks choosing the ONE person to document your wedding day- your photographer. You checked him or her out, viewed countless images, and found someone you could relate to and liked. You hired them. Paid them a lot of money.
Now, your wedding day arrives and you find 2 or 3 OTHER “photographers” all trying to take photographs. And you find your HIRED photographer is frustrated, perplexed, and ready to leave. They may have come to believe you hired more than one photographer when the reality is, you don’t have a clue who they are or why they are even there!
In many cases, these “other photographers” are obnoxious, rude, and demanding that “they have every right to take photos” and that the images they take ALL belong to them. WOW! So what is a Bride supposed to do or say here?
You have just encountered your “vendor-photographer”! He or she is there working FOR your vendor(s) and are going to exploit your wedding day to it’s fullest for their own promotional work. Hey, this is YOUR WEDDING, not theirs so what do you do? Do you say something? Or will your HIRED photographer help you out here?
This is another very important reason you MAKE SURE you have a photographer that offers a CONTRACT. In that contract you may find an “Exclusivity Clause”. In that clause, you are giving your photographer the exclusive right to photograph your wedding. He or she has the very first priority above all over “photographers” that are there. Face it, you PAID THEM to make sure your day was documented and captured for your memories forever. And if your photographer knows what they are doing, they are going to tell the “vendor-photographers” they need to leave.
So now it’s probably going to get “not so pretty” and in some cases, pretty ugly. You can bet these photographers are going to INSIST that “they have a right to be there” and will take photos of whatever they want to take. So let’s see HOW you as a Bride, can make SURE you have something to protect yourself from this happening.
- READ other vendors contracts. If they have ANY provision for “vendor-photographer” either ask them to remove that clause or don’t hire them. It’s your wedding and you can determine who takes photos or who doesn’t.
- ASK your other vendors if they have ANY plans to do still photography, videography or any other “image capture” of your wedding. If they DO, ask them what they plan to do SPECIFICALLY. If you can agree to it and understand a few images is fine, then you want that CONTRACTUALLY in writing. If your florist brings a camera to shoot your table displays or your other flowers, fine. BUT to bring or hire a photographer to document the wedding, is another issue all together.
- ASK your potential photographer how they would handle this situation if it arose. There is ONLY one correct answer- he or she asks them to leave.
- READ your photographers contract. Make sure you give the “exclusive rights” to be the ONLY professional photographer taking images of your wedding. This doesn’t exclude a guest or family member from taking a few photos, but DOES restrict those “vendor-photographers” from being there, taking photos, and ruining your wedding day.
- If you are hiring a photographer and they don’t have a contract, run. Without one, you have no “ammunition” or someone in your corner to help you overcome this practice AND to be “on your side”.
How “dastardly” are these “vendor-photographers”? One recent lawsuit OF a fellow wedding photographer BY another “vendor-photographer” resulted in a counter claim and LARGE award by the court to a couples “real” photographer. They are using what I call “Ninja” tactics and using YOUR wedding day with impunity and images without your permission in many cases. They also will “weave” these little clauses into their contracts and you never know its happening.
So what does this all mean FOR YOU?
If you aren’t properly warned AND prepared, it COULD ruin your entire wedding day.
Is it happening here?
Yes, and starting to be an issue all over the country. I have SEEN “vendor-photographers” at weddings and had to deal with them in a nice and gentle way. SO FAR, they are cooperative, but in some parts of the country, not so much.
So what might happen if you did sign a contract with another vendor and they interfere with your HIRED photographer?
In some cases, your photographer MAY include a clause in their contract that allows them to basically LEAVE if you did indeed allow these “vendor-photographers” to show up and create havoc. Add to it, YOU are out what you paid and you may get no images either! These “vendor-photographers” are basically “interfering” with the photographers ability to fulfill the Contract WITH YOU and photographer’s ability to perform their job. It’s call tortious interference and is actionable in the courts.
So you decide to “sue” your photographer in court! You can bet that the legal battle is going to be uphill and the chances are, you lose and your photographer will sue the “vendor-photographer” for being there and you for violating the “exclusivity’ you gave your photographer. In the link to the article below, you can read what happened to ONE “vendor-photographer” who made a real stinker of one wedding and how much it cost this “vendor-photographer”. I doubt you want to be party to that.
In closing, I hope you take this seriously and don’t think “it can’t happen to me”. It can. And probably will to someone reading this. Most importantly, HIRE A TRUE, LICENSED and INSURED professional photographer. AND I recommend hiring a PPA Professional. Our commitment to YOU, the client, is foremost in what we do.
We KNOW how to handle these issues and do so to assure you 100% of what we promise.
A very special Thank You to a friend and fellow photographer for pointing this out for all to learn from. If you want to read her entire blog post, you can find it here- http://www.katforder.com/2015/09/02/vendor-photographers-are-a-new-trend-in-event-photography/ .