While working my way through various additions to my contracts, talking to fellow photographers, one particular topic is regularly up for discussion. Photographer/client expectations. One issue in particular that can contribute to problems of this nature, is additional photographers at events. And I don’t mean professionals! We love taking photos of our family and friends at events, we want to capture every moment, be up close to see things unfolding, getting pictures on our phones to upload instantly to social media! We understand this. What is hard though, as the paid photographer, is when not being allowed the room or distraction free space, it can hinder our ability to take the best quality images.
Have a read of this passage from a blog post, shared amongst one of my photography groups:
8. Policies on Other Photographers
This one seems fairly random and even arguable, but in truth in can become a major problem and should be a consideration for every event. These days, lots of non-professionals have a really nice digital SLR with a reasonably good lens that they pack around to family gatherings, social events and the like. If you’ve ever run into this at an event, you know what a hassle it can be.
I was recently the second shooter for a wedding where, during the ceremony, the hired photographers (including myself) were practically tripping on other people taking photos with their big, expensive-looking cameras. This had several negative effects. First, the client received fewer quality images because we had to dodge all of these extra “photographers” and try to make sure they weren’t in our shots. Furthermore, the other people with cameras complained as we jumped in front of them to capture an important moment, despite the fact that we were the only ones actually hired to do so!
Another important aspect in this argument is the idea that having all of these other people shooting the event lessens the impact of your own work. To be fair, you should be good enough to stand out, but you are hired for your talent and shouldn’t have to deal with competition on the date of the event.
As the originator of the contract, you get to decide what your policy is on other photographers, and it may even change from event to event. If you don’t mind other people shooting but want to make sure they avoid specific places so they aren’t in the way, make sure your client understands where those places are and can guide their guests accordingly. Likewise, if you prefer, you can state that guests can’t have any cameras that require interchangeable lenses or flash.
Most of the time, this isn’t something you can enforce very well. You can’t exactly walk up and yell at any guy with a Canon Rebel! However, simply having it in the contract lets your clients know your thoughts on the subject, which is often enough to make the event go much smoother. It also provides you a modicum of protection when your picture of the first kiss turns out to be a photo of the back of some other photographer’s head.