In the world of wedding photographers there is an increasingly common term being banded about, that being ‘Uncle Bob’. So who or what is Uncle Bob, and why are they an issue? If I’m honest, I’m lucky, and I haven’t actually come across a problematic Uncle Bob so far, but this post is to help you either avoid being Uncle Bob or having one at your wedding.
So Uncle Bob is the guest at a wedding, with a ‘pro’ camera, who thinks and acts as if they should be the photographer, and in doing so get in the actual photographer’s way potentially ruining photos. Let me say it first I have zero issue with guests having cameras at weddings, even welcoming them if they are good cameras, as even when working as a pair I cannot be everywhere all the time, and so will miss things. If a guest can capture one of those moments in the process of enjoying their day then fantastic. When it goes wrong, is when that guest crosses the line and does more than a guest should, and starts interfering.
Start with the ceremony. There is no real need for any guests to take photos during the ceremony if a competent professional photographer has been hired. DSLRs especially which are distracting enough when hidden away, never mind right in the middle of a pew. Even worse is on the aisle end of a pew getting in the way of the photographer who will most likely be restricted from moving from their spot at the back of the church. Imagine the moment, photographer is in position at the back of the church bride and groom about to have their first kiss and a guest steps out into the aisle (commonly with a phone!) completely blocking the photographer’s view. What can they do? Either they give the Bride and Groom the blocked shot to show why they didn’t capture it, or they have to go up and interrupt and ask for it to be re-staged. Both not ideal! If a guest enjoy the moment, watch your nearest and dearest tying the knot, leave your phone in your pocket or your camera in it’s bag. It’s actually becoming increasingly common for couples to ask for ‘unplugged’ ceremonies whereby no phones or cameras are allowed.
The next point at which it can be a problem is the couple portraits. This is a time for the couple to enjoy to themselves away from their guests, potentially the only time together as just the two of them (and their photographer!) all day. If a guest tries and follows it ruins this time for the couple. As a guest take the time to enjoy a drink and catch up with friends and family before sitting down for the meal.
Lastly the group photos. Trust in the photographer to take these shots. The main problem if there is a guest with a camera behind or to the side of the photographer guests won’t know where to look and will naturally be distracted by the other camera(s). With large groups it’s hard to keep a track of eyes and no matter how loud we shout people will look in the other direction, and although exposures can be combined it is likely someone will be watching elsewhere.
Remember the Bride and Groom hired the photographer they did as they love their style, photos and the way they work. Put trust in them, they may work differently to how you do but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is not to say they also don’t love your work but they would not have asked you because they wanted you to enjoy and be part of their day not stressing about taking photos.
So don’t be Uncle Bob. Feel free to take photos throughout the day just keep your camera away at those few vital points. The bride and groom will love the photos you take especially if they are different from the photographer they hired, so instead of stalking over their shoulder go and socialise have fun and watch out for those special moments the photographer may not get to see. And if something does happen you think they should see let me them know if time as they will thank you.
I have actually personally come to the point that is attending a wedding as a guest my camera stays at home or in the car unless specifically requested by the couple. I wasn’t hired to be there so I want to enjoy the day, and I don’t want to be Uncle Bob to the photographer who is there either!