If you want a subject that can split a profession and cause a never ending argument, feeding your wedding photographer is it.
It seems such a simple thing but it always prompts notable debate whenever the subject appears on social media.
So firstly without giving my stance on the matter I will try and give you a balanced view with arguments for both sides. Then yes I will tell you what I think at the end…
If your wedding is in a city centre it is easy for a photographer to go source their own food and they can get exactly what they want. If in the middle of the countryside they likely would need to bring a packed lunch.
Wherever the location if not providing food you have to be happy for the photographer to leave site to source/eat food at appropriate times. This time will normally be included in your paid coverage still.
A paid break would still be included if you feed the photographer but they will be able to more easily adapt to changing time lines etc if remaining on site. If speeches move forward or someone reveals a surprise (singing waiters for example) they will be on site still.
Your work doesn’t provide lunch
Most workplaces do not provide meals/food in your normal place of work. It actually is a taxable benefit if they do. If though you are working away from your office, then most businesses do have expenses policies that do cover purchasing lunch (or dinner). A wedding venue is not a photographer’s normal place of work so if they worked for a business they would expect food to be provided or claimable via expenses.
Bringing a packed lunch
In most situations a packed lunch can be brought by the photographer themselves but the following points should be kept in mind:
– Difficult to store in a hot car in summer
– Photographer may have used public transport so unable to store it
– If the photographer is not local it may need to be prepared over 24 hours in advance without a fridge for storage
– Some venues will not allow outside food to be brought on to the premises
Paying for a three course meal when they’re not a guest
Dependent on your venue providing a meal is not necessarily expensive. Caterers normally offer supplier meals that are a fraction of the cost of your guest meals but still provide a nutritious hot meal. Some will provide the same food as the guests but at a reduced amount. Some venues have public accessible catering such as a bar or restaurant menu where your photographer can sit and eat utilising a prearranged tab. If you do pay for your photographers to have a hot meal ensure that they do actually receive it. It’s astonishing what caterers will provide as a supplier meal. I’ve heard of couples paying £30+ for the photographer to be given a plate of chips or a sad sandwich!
The difference a hot meal makes
It is not uncommon for a photographer to drive up to 2 hours to and from a wedding. Presuming an average 8-10 hour day that could easily be 14 hours without a hot meal. Although a picnic lunch can be great as a stop gap to keep energy levels running well a healthy balanced meal can be essential. If there are options near by then it is not essential to provide a hot meal yourself. In some instances a cold buffet style meal is more than enough as well, but there is a big difference between a buffet and a sandwich!
On a budget
If you’re on a budget it is harder to justify an added expense. It’s worth factoring in either way when getting quotes therefore it’s not a surprise closer to the wedding and you can budget accordingly. If you speak to your venue and/or caterer they can advise what options are available for supplier meals.
What does get complex is if your photographer has complicated dietary requirements. They could have allergies or food preferences, such as being gluten free, vegan or otherwise. Not all caterers will be able to easily accommodate such requests for a supplier meal which may result in added expense.
Length of coverage
If you only have the photographer in attendance for a couple of hours rather than a full day then there isn’t the same expectation or requirement to feed them. Normally if in attendance for over 6 hours a break for food is expected. This is actually a legal requirement for employers so is the same in all industries. But don’t worry your photographer won’t ‘clock off’ at exactly 6 hours into coverage, they will just want a break at a sensible point in time. Normally when you also eat!
My Personal Opinion
So time for my bias input on the subject. Yes it’s in my contract, I ask to be fed if in attendance for over 6 hours. A lot of my weddings are in remote country locations with no alternative food available and I’m not as good a photographer when I’m Hangry! ha!
I’m not fussy, I have no special dietary requirements and will eat most things. Personally I don’t mind if it is ‘just’ sandwiches or similar, I just ask for something to keep me going.
Being fed a nice meal really does make a difference though. If I get dessert as well, then I’m your best friend! It makes me feel valued and I will work even harder (if I’m not in a food coma ha).
What I will say though is I wouldn’t expect couples to have to cater for people with complex dietary needs. Fellow photographer friends who fall in that category though are normally well versed in bringing appropriate food.
A final thought
A well fed photographer is normally a happy photographer, and a happy photographer is far more likely to show good will if the time line is running slightly behind or similar. After the day as well when it comes to editing, if your photographer had a good day at your wedding they will be in an automatic better mood when editing your photos.
This takes it to the extreme but this story went viral last year. A couple asked their friend to photograph their wedding for next to no pay. Then on the day the couple not only didn’t feed the photographer (who again was a friend) but also wouldn’t allow them to leave the venue to find food after 8 hours working non-stop. The photographer gave an ultimatum to the couple and they still said no so they deleted all the photos of the day! The overwhelming consensus of the world was the couple were massively out of order. Not only did they lose their photos they also lost a friend, all for not willing to give the guy a 20 minute break.
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