Don’t let these 10 wedding photographer pet peeves mess with your photos

Guest post by Mike Allebach

Remember Mike Allebach's 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't? He's back with more photographer confessions that could help you avoid hating your wedding pics.

All photos by Mike Allebach
All photos by Mike Allebach

Wedding-day snafus don't just stress out the couple — they can also affect your photographer's ability to get those amazing photos you've envisioned. Wedding photographers have a lot of insight into what makes a wedding day run smoothly, so I polled a handful of longtime pros to find out their biggest pet peeves and the stress-relieving fixes.

1. The time crunch

Ambitious timelines, traffic jams, limo beer-runs, and hair-and-makeup delays can all chip away at the time you allotted for photos. So please pad your timeline. Your day will feel more relaxed, and you'll get more photos you love. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure that your hair and makeup artists know how many people they will be working with, and forewarn them if someone's getting an intricate updo.
  • When traveling in large cities, double the estimated amount of time you'll need to go from place to place.
  • If you need to make a beer run en route to the reception, plan on it taking 30 minutes — or just pack it ahead of time.

must have photo

2. Must-have photo lists from traditional wedding-planning websites

Nothing smacks of not trusting your photographer more than a list that starts with “Bride looking over shoulder.” Professional photographers want you to love your wedding photos and want to capture things that are important to you. But long lists can stifle creativity and make your photographer more likely to miss a moment unfolding because they're busy combing through a checklist.

Communicate what is most important to you: Details? Real moments? Photos of the guests? Who are the most important people to you, and what are their names? And don't worry — if you happen to look over your shoulder, we'll get that photo, too.

make sure you pick clothes you can move in

3. Wardrobe malfunctions

Does your dress look amazing… as long as you're standing still? Find a comfortable dress so you're not fussing with an ill-fitting bodice or wayward bra the entire wedding day. Stand, sit, and dance in the fitting room to make sure your dress stays put. And don't worry — no matter what, we'll spare you all the photos of you readjusting. We just want you to be comfortable and look good.

4. Weird ceremony lighting

Nothing is worse than bad lighting at a ceremony. If you're hosting a wedding outside, try to find a spot where the sun will be behind you, hitting your shoulders. For late-morning and early-afternoon weddings, standing in complete shade of a tree or under a chuppah is ideal.

Figure out where the sun will be at the time you are getting married (there are apps for that!). Nobody wants squinty ceremony photos or shadowy images with the bride in the sun and the groom in the shade. (And bad lighting can strike anytime — not just at the ceremony — so read my rant about DJ laser lights here.)

5. Peacocking groomsmen

If you're a groomsman, put your penis away. This should go without saying, right? But apparently it's a thing now, because one of the biggest complaints I heard from female wedding photographers was inappropriate groomsman behavior — including lewd comments and awkward displays of man meat. Zip it up, guys. And that goes for all the sexual harassment that drunken wedding guests dish out to photographers.

6. Grooms who stuff their pants

If you're thinking, “I would never do that!” — think again. You don't want to know what your cell phone, wallet, and keys look like on our screens. We're (usually) kind enough to smooth out those weird bulges for you in Photoshop, but it would be helpful if you'd just un-stuff your pockets.

By the way, have you seen this awesome garter cell phone holster?

unplugged wedding sign

7. iPhones and iPads

We understand Aunt Zelda needs to update her Tinder profile with selfies from your wedding, but can we just go unplugged already? Some photographers will even give you bonuses or discounts if you have your guests put their phones away!

The simple fix is to have your officiant announce a time to take a photo as your ceremony begins, and then ask everyone to turn off their phones and enjoy the rest of your wedding. Take the Hands Free for Love Challenge.

8. Bossy Pinterest-stalkers

Just like Beyoncé, photographers want to ban bossy… wedding guests. In fact, this was the number-one pet peeve when I polled photographers. As far as we're concerned, our wedding couple is the boss. We want to do anything to make them happy. So we hate when a wedding guest who has stalked too many Pinterest boards interrupts our photo time to make suggestions. Their ideas may be “cute,” but we don't want to copy someone else's work — not to mention it takes time away from the newlyweds and pulls them out of the moment. Don't worry, we'll brush them off with a polite “thanks but no thanks.”

mike allebach photography

9. “You can fix that in Photoshop, right?”

If you want to drive a photographer nuts, just repeat this phrase a few times. We have a love-hate relationship with Photoshop. Yes, Photoshop can do a lot of things. But those things take time, especially when we're editing hundreds and hundreds of images. If there is any way we can fix a problem in real life, before we snap the photo, we'll take that over spending the next few days in 7 Circles of Photoshop Hell.

10. Forgetting the photo credit

Obviously we don't like it when newbie photographers steal our work and pass it on as their own. But we also don't like it when our photos get posted without credit. Give us a shout-out when you post to Facebook, Instagram, or wedding blogs. We live and breathe from referrals, so we want your guests to know who took all the photos they love. Plus, it helps us protect our images from those aforementioned photo thieves.

Professional wedding photographers want to do everything in our power to help you have a stress-free wedding day. We want to partner with you to document your event as smoothly as possible. Therefore, communication is key! I hope these 10 tips will help you build an awesome working relationship with your photographer.


photography: Allebach Photography

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Comments on Don’t let these 10 wedding photographer pet peeves mess with your photos

  1. I tried to remind my groom to keep stuff out of his pockets. He didn’t listen, and now he’s annoyed at the lumps in his butt in our photos.

    Grooms! You don’t need your phone and wallet! Leave them at home, in the car, or hand them to a trusted friend. Then you will have a gorgeous lump-free butt.

    • I had the same problem. My husband had his phone in a front pocket, and even had his lanyard hanging out of his pants in a few shots. *sigh*

      • This is part of the reason why my darling and his brother will be wearing their kilts (and, you know, kilts are AWESOME).

  2. So much yes to this post! As a wedding photographer, I cant even count the times I’ve encountered these at a wedding. They’re so frustrating and can be easily avoided. My biggest peeves are the time crunch, the must-have pinterest photos, bad lighting, and the endless see of iphone and ipadographers.

  3. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS #1 #4 and #10……………………yes please!!!!!!!!!!!

    Gah i can’t tell you how many times i’ve seen a nite and day difference to actually having TIME to create for my clients v. rushing around!!! I know it is not always possible (depending on how you designed your day)…but man….being able to breathe, create and have fun is BOSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    #4 – OMG. double THIS! – again, sometimes clients want outdoors at a lake at spot that is dear to them…but we cannot control the sun…and the laser lights…*cries*….my flash simply cannot overcome them all the time! Sometimes it comes out looking like pimples…GREEN pimples…hahaah!! p.s. it would also be cool to let your photographer has LIGHTING INPUT on your wedding day. When the DJ/venue turns the light down to darkness for “mood” lighting…what they don’t realize is cameras can’t focus in complete blackness. It is kinda nice to just have the ability for input on some lighting scenarios. (especially for indoor receptions/venues) Can lights, spot lights…omigosh…if i could tell you!!!!! 🙂

    #10 the lifelines of our biz are word of mouth!!! It is nice to have my name out there so i don’t have to do EVERYTHING….online credit just helps us ALL in the long run!!! <3

  4. Yes to the time crunch!! Another FYI regarding hair and makeup- the bride shouldn’t go last. That way, if time does start to get a little short, a bridesmaid can more easily have a less complicated/time consuming undo done, and no one is the wiser

  5. Yes to ALL of this but especially the comment above about letting your photographer have some say on the lighting! Just last weekend I actually met a wonderful venue manager who asked ME how bright the lights should be at the reception. It made an amazing difference in the quality of the images.

    • Just before our ceremony, the second shooter at my wedding commented on the lighting at the venue (a theatre). She told the main photographer that it was really dark and suggested that they ask the venue manager to adjust the lighting. The main photographer said that they would just deal with the lighting. Well it turned out that the venue manager forgot to turn on lights that were supposed to be on (specifically the light that light up the stage). Our friend was running the music and mentioned to the venue manager that some lights weren’t on (we were standing on the stage with just the house lights dimmed). The venue manager insisted that everything was fine and wouldn’t let him touch any of the switches for the lights (he was only allowed to press play and stop for our musical selections). About a minute into our ceremony my husband and I were blinded when our friend defied the venue managers instructions and flipped on the stage lights. I think that if the photographers had mentioned the lighting to the venue manager that the issue would have been resolved earlier (and I wouldn’t have been blinded for a few seconds).

  6. So substantially yes to this place! As a wedding photographer, They Are so annoying and can be readily prevented. Thanks for your sharing.

  7. The time crunch is the WORST. Because it’s always the photos that lose out, rather than hurrying the getting ready on a bit. I once had a bride who wanted to do her own hair and make-up and then put on a complicated sari. This was supposed to take 1 hour. It took THREE, and she started half an hour late. She’d only hired me for 5 hours. So I got three hours of her getting ready, no couple photos because it was pitch dark by then, and they were late for the reception anyway, and one and a half hours of guests mingling. Such a waste of her money and my time!

    And pages and pages of family formals kill me.

    But I feel pleased that I’ve never had any groomsmen creep me out with “man-meat” or anything I found sexually harassing. Thank you, my lovely groom and groomsmen, for not being dicks!

    • “But I feel pleased that I’ve never had any groomsmen creep me out with “man-meat” or anything I found sexually harassing. Thank you, my lovely groom and groomsmen, for not being dicks!”

      HAHAHA!!! Best comment I’ve read on this post, if not all of the Offbeat Empire!

  8. All of the above except sort of the wedding checklist. Please do make one for the family shots… families aren’t just mom and dad on both sides = big, happy, family photo. The Wedding Photo Family checklist is so helpful, especially if Mom and Dad can’t be in a photograph together because their divorce was messy, and Auntie is basically like a Mom so she needs to be in all photographs, and so cousin is also like a sister, but stepsister isn’t really close but stepbrother really is! I come from a complicated family, but assisting my husband with a couple weddings made me so glad when we got this list.

    But yeah, no lists for poses or anything silly like that. Most photographers know what they are doing, and don’t need that extra distraction unless you are trying to reenact one photo that is from your mom’s/dad’s/’grandma’s wedding.

  9. “If you’re a groomsman, put your penis away.”

    . . . I don’t want to know, I really don’t want to know.

    • Funny story – at my BIL’s wedding the female second shooter who was taking pictures of the guys getting ready told the guys to not be embarrassed about getting dressed in front of her and just pretend that she wasn’t there. The guys were getting ready in the honeymoon suite at a B&B, the same B&B that my now husband (then boyfriend) and I were spending the night. My husband came back to our room for a shower while the other guys hung out in the honeymoon suite. When he was done in the shower he put a towel around his waist and picked up his garment bag and walked down the hall. As he was about to leave our room I made a comment about him getting dressed in our room and not walking down the hall just wearing a towel. He said that he was told he had to get dressed with the guys. I heard the guys burst out in laughter when he came in only wearing a towel. He was then told that he could have put his boxers, pants, shirt, etc. on in our room and that she really only needed pictures of them putting on their ties, cufflinks, jackets, etc.

  10. The photos of our first dance feature rather prominently the family photo shot list that my husband stuffed in his back pocket and forgot about. Weclaugh aboytcit now; but when we got the photos back he felt like a turd.

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