Bride Magazine recently published an article (which it appears they have removed) with a theme, “Don’t Feed Your Photographers.” Many friends and colleagues have sent me the article, tagged me on Facebook, with a justified frustration, asking for my perspective on it. Rather than answering again and again, I decided to form a response here, and let’s start by approaching this for as much benefit to you as possible.
Making Guests More Comfortable
Wedding days are notorious for passing by quickly, even though the days themselves are full of events. Throughout that process, guests will need a break from the camera, and this also includes the couple. At the end of the night, it becomes clear when people have had enough of a camera chasing them around all day. During meals, this is especially true, as anyone with a camera trained on them as they take a bite of their meal will become uncomfortable; no one wants that photograph hanging on their wall. During that time, you can use it to maximize your creative gain by providing vendors a meal. At the end of the day, guests will be more accepting to a camera that was less invasive, and the quality of the moments you see captured will increase.
Most of my wedding days are between 12-18 hours between domestic travel, setup, coverage, tear down, then returning home to backup and organize images/equipment. That equipment I bring to a wedding weighs in the neighborhood of 300 pounds, with backups of everything, Pelican cases full of cameras, lights, lenses, bags of light stands, sand bags used as weights… it’s pretty rigorous, and at 30, I already worry how that’ll work when I’m older. Anyway, by the time I get home, I’m totally worthless, and the only way to curb that is through copious amounts of gatorade and food, the latter of which is usually forced. A meal, preferably the same the guests are receiving (even if is cold when I finally get to scarf it down), provides a greater sense of appreciation. I always go another mile still when fed, in part because of that appreciation, but also because I have the physical and creative energy to push myself to the brink.
Then there are arguments to feed select vendors, and sometime it’s a plate of cold cuts. It’s hard saying this without sounding ungracious, but hear me out. The simple answer is that feeding all of your vendors is the courteous thing to do. Would you consider not feeding your guests? Of course not! Would you then consider not providing a meal to vendors who are working a 12+ hour day for you, so you can remember all of the moments and the planning that went into your big day? When other vendors are getting fed, who potentially do not occupy roles as physically demanding, it is hard for a creative vendor not to feel as though his or her well being, and therefore their services that you invested in, are discounted in value.
Creative vendors are really only beginning the process of capturing your story through thousands of photographs and hours of footage to weave into wedding films, albums, canvases, and online galleries. We understand it is another expense, but I promise you it’s worth it. You want to keep your vendors happy, because we want to keep you happy. I can’t tell you the number of times my colleagues at Deep Focus Pictures or I have invested hundreds, if not thousands, in an unspoken upgrade for a specific event. For us, it’s smart business. Everyone wins, quality of your story increases, etc. For my fellow nerds, in the words of Tron, “I fight for the Users!”
The clients I work with understand all of the above and we usually become friends through our journey together. They realize small steps of hospitality are to their gain, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.