As a photographer, I was recently asked to shoot a unique photo session. Unlike family, weddings or children’s photos, not everyone thinks about getting professional pictures of their furry companions in the last days of their lives. Those who cherish their pets as members of the family, are going to feel an incredible loss when it’s time to say goodbye. Many of these devoted pet parents are eager for high quality images to hold on to after their beloved four-legged family member has gone. Some people wonder why – or how – I did this session: “Wasn't it sad? I’d be a mess!” “Why would someone want a picture of their dying dog?” While it was definitely emotional, I saw this as an opportunity to celebrate the joy pets bring to our lives.
I met up with this beautiful baby and her loving family to work together to get some great shots for them to remember her by while she was still active and able to walk. She looked and acted like a healthy dog and enjoyed walking during our session. She played in the water, she ran beside her brother, and basically just enjoyed the outing.
I wanted to talk about something today that usually doesn’t get addressed until there is a problem or an issue. I, like most wedding photographers, require that my clients provide myself and my second shooter with a meal during their wedding reception. I ask that we are able to eat immediately after the wedded couple - before the rest of the guests. Today, I want to share with you why this little request is so extremely important, why it seems to cause unnecessary drama and how to talk to your catering company when they push back.
When my clients sign a contract with me, they will see the clause that requires them to provide us a meal. We can be served a plated meal or go through the buffet line. How the food gets to us isn’t the important part - it’s the when.
I require that we are able to eat immediately after the wedded couple and their immediate families - before the remaining guests are served.
No, I’m not selfish. No, I’m not impatient. I’m a planner. I’m a big fan of smart logistics and logistically, this is the only time that makes absolute sense for me to be eating. Don’t get me started on food waste but that’s honestly what happens! Meals go to waste. My biggest point here is that I asked my couples to spend money feeding me and then, at no fault of their own, that meal which they paid for sits there uneaten when we are fed last.
If you think about a typical wedding reception, it probably flows something like this:
Why aren’t you shooting anything while they’re eating? Absolutely no one wants to be photographed while they are eating especially when they’re visiting with and sharing a meal with family and friends. The entire goal of my work as a wedding photographer is to make people feel comfortable. I want even the guests to remember me positively and feel like I took care of them. If I’m wandering the space with my camera, trying to capture people during this time, it will make them feel uncomfortable and reflect negatively on me. Plus, this is not a time where I can shoot images that the couple will cherish for generations. The details of the reception space must be captured before anyone enters the room so aside from taking candids of people, there is nothing for me to be shooting during this time. Therefore I have two choices - stand around and waste my couple’s investment with me or eat.
Why not step away during dancing? I could. I absolutely could. But like I mentioned above, I cannot be shooting while people are eating so if I’m not eating, I’m going to be standing around. I don’t think it’s respectful to my couples to waste their investment of time with me. If there is dancing happening, I’d like to be shooting it!
Why couldn’t you just eat with the rest of the guests? The wedded couple are always served first and no matter how hungry they are, 9/10 times they eat a little bit and then are up to mingle with their guests. This is a time where they go table to table and chat, take selfies with their friends and spend time with the people who have come to celebrate them. During this mingling, I try to shadow the couple because it’s very common that they look to me to capture a quick, impromptu snap of them with a guest. It reflects positively on me to be there in that moment plus it’s always something that my clients want. Their questionnaires always list “photos of us with our guests” as priorities.
I just want to deeply thank all of the incredible caterers who have served me and my team beautifully over the years. Some of them even go above and beyond to make sure we are fed and happy - which is incredible and appreciated. If you’ve ever brought us the extra salads or a few warm rolls, I worship you. I always remember their hospitality during those parts of the evening when we are exhausted and need to refuel to serve our couples.
I hope this post helps couples understand why the timing of their vendor meals is so critical and how to address this with their caterer!
Cathy & Jenn of CatsMac Photography, Peterborough, Ontario.