With pretty much every guest bringing some sort of recording device to a wedding nowadays, the odds of running into photobombers is growing increasingly higher. Many couples have avoided this with planning “unplugged” weddings; however, there are still a few types of people who don't like to play by the rules.
After having shot weddings for nearly seven years, I feel like I've seen enough photobombers to be able to not only classify them but have learned a little about how to deal with them. Here are, from my experience, the four categories of photobombers…
1. The camera enthusiast
This is the person who just bought a new dSLR, a new lens, or a new flash. They can't wait to try it out. They are, in fact, so enamored with their new purchase that they have tunnel vision. They are focused only on themselves and their new toy and are completely oblivious to those with whom they may be interfering.
2. The Boomer-with-an-iPad
Why guests think it's okay to shove a giant iPad out into the aisle as the bride is walking down is beyond me. While I've seen younger folk bring iPads, too, they often seem more aware of their mammoth size of the device and keep it closer to their bodies when taking pictures with it. Then there are the older generation of guests holding giant iPads at arm's length away from their bodies, leaning it into aisles, and hovering over other guests with it during a first dance. They truly seem to have no idea of how large their device is and how intrusive it can be.
3. The “It Doesn't Apply to Me”-er
You've taken the time to talk all about “unplugged weddings” on your invitations, and you've even made signs for your guests as a reminder. Your officiant also made an announcement before the ceremony started. Then someone gets up and goes and stands on the altar during the ceremony, snapping their own images (probably with an iPad). Yes, they saw the invites, they read the sign, and heard the announcement. But they're your uncle/friend/grandma/second-cousin-twice-removed… these “rules” couldn't possibly apply to them.
4. The “I Don't Give a Flying F&*K”-er
Similar to the “It Doesn't Apply to Me”-er, no matter what, this person is hell-bent on getting whatever pictures they want. No amount of signage or announcements will stop them. What sets them apart from any of the others, however, is that even if they are informed by someone (be it wedding party, photographer, or the bride and grooms themselves) that they have blocked a few shots and that it would be awesome if they could chill out… they won't care.
Okay, that's great. You can classify them. But what now? Will knowing what type of photobomber someone is (or may be) help you?
Just as there is no one way to have a wedding, there is no one way to deal with a photobomber. Tailoring your approach can help save your wedding photos. I've got some advice for couples and photographers alike on how to handle photobombers.
Dealing with the Camera Enthusiast
The best person to approach this type of person is the photographer. Photographers, you can talk to them like you're on the same level (even if you suspect they may not be) and provide them with the utmost respect. Phrase yourself in such a way where you're assuming that they already know the limits and how not to interfere, and they'll gladly agree with you and respect your boundaries.
Hey, I see you have a nice camera there! Just to keep other shooters in the loop, I shoot not only close-ups but a lot of wider shots too. I'm assuming, since you seem to be more familiar with photography than the average person, you know how to avoid photo-bombing, right?
Dealing with the Baby-Boomer-With-An-iPad
Typically having an unplugged wedding with a few reminders during the day will solve this problem. Couples should make sure, however, to tell the guests that they'll be more than happy to share the professional photos with them once they receive them so that they are aware that they CAN have access to photos. People, especially the Baby-Boomer crowd (to whom photos are super important) will be much more likely to adhere to your request for a camera-free wedding if you can give them reassurance that you WILL provide them pictures afterwards.
Dealing with the “It Doesn't Apply to Me”-er
A little pre-wedding chat from the couple has to happen in order to prevent this scenario. Couples, you need to sit down with whomever you think will have this issue, sincerely express your concerns, and tell them, flat out, that the “no cameras” rule applies to everyone. As above, make sure you reinforce the fact that you WILL provide them with photos after the fact so they don't feel like they're losing out on memories.
Dealing with the “I Don't Give a Flying F&*K”-er
Luckily this type of photobomber is the rarest bird of them all, but this is also the hardest one to deal with. You often don't realize that the photobomber has this attitude until well into the wedding day. When you do encounter this type, it can be pretty intense and result in hurt feelings or ruined photos (as the odds of fixing this situation pleasantly is pretty darn slim). Typically this person is mission-oriented and has been asked by SOMEONE in the family to take pictures for whatever reason. Ultimately it will come down to the couple deciding to either confront the turbo-photobomber OR deciding to make peace with this person being in the background of all their photos.
While it's never fun for the photographer or the couple to have to confront a guest about their behavior, often it's the only way to get your wedding photobombers to politely maintain a safe distance from the action.
Photographers and wedding guests alike: What are YOUR tips for handling all types of photobombers and Uncle Bobs?