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.

  11. Excellent post that I will for sure be linking for my couples to read!
    I wish venues had lighting consultants when they went to build, as it’s amazing some of the poor decision making that takes place. A local venue comes to mind in which the ceremonies take place outdoors, in front of water, under a picket arch, and always between hours of 12-3. The result is an overhead sun casting awkward shadows, in front of a blown out lake. Also, it’s in a natural environment with tons of fruit flies near the water in the summer.
    I am also over the excessive Pinterest focus, in which people are just rehashing others unique ideas, and attempting to make their photographer blend the entire planet’s portfolio into their coverage. It sucks all the flow from the day and creates an unnatural/forced final product. Focus on enjoying your day, and being you, and you’ll have photography that reflects that.

  12. The time crunch is the absolute worst. Not just because it damages the photos but because it damages the couple’s day. I get my best photos when the couple are happy and have plenty of time to visit with their guests and enjoy themselves. When they amble through their day rather than grabbing on to the back of a runaway freight train.

    We have had brides who had schedules loads of super cool entertainment only to find they had budgeted themselves no time to enjoy those activities themselves. Booooo to that!

    I think one of the important influences on the timetable which was not discussed is the venue. Often times my couples are given a timetable dictated by their venue which allows for very little time between the ceremony and the wedding meal (in the UK). One venue in particular comes to mind – they sell themselves as a venue close to the beach for beach-side photos (the venue is about 10 minutes away from the nearest beach) but will only allow 1.5 hours between the ceremony and sitting for the meal. With 20 minutes of drive time, 20 minutes of photos on the beach and an average of 45 minutes of family photos – where is the time for the couple to actually spend with their guests?

    Ask the venue – how flexible are you? Can I alter your standard timetable to suit my needs and activities? Do this BEFORE booking the venue.

  13. This is so adorable! Really gives me a lot of ideas to pitch for my sisters wedding! At least in terms of wedding photography, I’ve had a lot of ideas, thank you!

  14. I thought this post was interesting and sometimes funny. Groomsmen, wtf?

    I do feel photographers should cut their brides some slack though. (Note I am not a photographer but I have catered weddings before.) Most couples are getting married for the first time in their life. So there will be glitches. The lighting won’t be optimal, people will meddle trying to make everything what they view as perfect. There will be delays, dinner will start two hours late and auntie Sue might be mad not to use her ipad.

    Your job as a pro is to work around this. Still get that good shot, manage to deal with noonday sun. Whatever. No one said work is easy! Yes, you can dream of the optimal perfect wedding to shoot. But weddings are not photoshoots. So yeah, some customers you click more with, and some things can be avoided that will make it easier for you. Every wedding will be unique, because weddings are real life. It’s what makes them beautiful!

    • I don’t think the article was stating that photographers don’t do the best they can with whatever they are given. It is giving advice to those who might want it about what can potentially be done to improve the outcome of the photos.

      Can I work in bad lighting conditions? Sure. Will I do my very best to get you the best/most flattering photos possible? Absolutely. Can you expect those images to look as good as those taken in better lighting conditions? Not usually.

      If the couple are getting married outside in blazing sunshine with the light falling in the wrong direction – you can expect there may be heavy facial shadows that make you look like a racoon or guests who are squinting heavily. I am a photographer – not a miracle worker.*

      If your aunty steps out into the middle of the aisle with her ipad during the first kiss – no amount of my ‘trying really hard’ will make your ruined first kiss photo un-ruined.

      Wedding photography is a significant investment – both financially & emotionally. If a bride can do some simple things to help improve the odds of a fantastic outcome – why not?

      *to clarify – the things a photographer *can* do to combat heavy facial shadows are very intrusive (think lots of flash) and at least for my couples – they would much rather take the sun’s direction into account than have the intrusion of lots of flash into such a profound moment.

    • Somowed — you are way off base. I’ve been a professional photographer for 36 years and you make comments without the knowledge to back it up. “Still get that good shot, manage to deal with noonday sun”… yeah, right. You willing to wait while I make all the adjustments necessary to do this? Or do you think we should just pull our our iPhone and shoot it? Hmmm? “But weddings are not photoshoots”, well, actually they are to a large degree. The brides pay good money to have the “magic moment” documented by still and video photographers, they discuss in advance what they want and expect and are very upset if they don’t get it. A large portion of the time involved in a wedding centers around this, so yeah, they are photo shoot. I agree, 2nd to the actual wedding, but more than you apparently think. “people will meddle trying to make everything what they view as perfect.” …. and that is not their job or right. It is the photographers job to shoot what the bride wants, not what your guess want. Wedding photographers have it hard and are rarely appreciated.

  15. I appreciate this article from a makeup artist standpoint. Encourage your Brides to take our advice when we suggest we should be finished and out of there by the time you arrive. While it’s nice to get photos of us actually working sometimes…that’s not usually something the Bride wants as a keepsake. Believe me, we love meeting photographers and getting photos to share (we do credit everything)!
    But we value your time and want to have everyone looking lovely by the time you arrive!

  16. Sadly our daughter was married and in 8 hours our 2 photographers NEVER took a picture of the bride’s family together. No mother and daughter pics. 4 hours at one venue and basically I didn’t exist and neither did her dad or brother. A few dance set pics with her father, but none worth framing.
    There are pictures of cigars, shoes, tables, random shots of people 5 to 10 pics long, but none of the family. What were they thinking? Devastation is an understatement.

    • Were the photographers strict photojournalists? Some PJ’s straight up don’t pose anything or anyone. From their standpoint, their job is to photograph the day as it unfolds in a fly- on- the- wall kinda way.

  17. “You can fix that in Photoshop, right?” I think I hate this one the most. I get it all the time. Sure, I can do that, for extra cash to cover the extra time it will take to do it in post production. Several years ago I suggested to the bride to add some powder to her shiny face due to the hot July heat (which I had already forwarned about months before the wedding day.) I also suggested to the bridesmaids to do the same to get rid of the shine on their faces and one of the bridesmaids refused to powder her face and said that I could just photoshop it for her. I didn’t touch the shine on her face for the photos. No way am I going to photoshop each image of her because she refused to take 10 seconds to powder her greasy face for some portraits.

  18. Realmente el tiempo debe ser bien administrado, la organización es fundamental, el profesional debe tener una comunicación abierta con la pareja para que los imprevistos sean mínimos. El que ama las fotografías cuida cada detalle. La comunicación es prioritaria y la empatía la relación profesional-pareja. Lo que nos encanta de compartir en las bodas es que compartimos sus emociones y nos sentimos parte de esa fiesta. El trabajo del fotógrafo debe transmitir tranquilidad a los novios y no darles estrés. La Clave: Coordinación, comunicación, organización y una relación de confianza son la clave.
    Olga Ganser y Rafa Castaño
    imágenes de mi boda

  19. I was cringing as I clicked the link to this blog. These things are usually so much rubbish…… but this is spot on. Great post Mike Allebach every one is true!

  20. Great post! As a wedding photographer myself, I have faced all of these at some time or another.. 😉 I have also heard the horror stories when bride and grooms don’t opt to hire a professional.. and unfortunately, there are a lot of them. The GOOD news is that there is an awesome new service that can do their best to fix these bad wedding photos and/or entire albums. Check them out at They are an awesome, affordable online photo retouching service. Keep up the great work!

  21. I do believe time is of the essence, and I have put quite an inflexible timescale for my ushers (we are hiring a vintage bus to transport everyone). Thankfully a mid-afternoon ceremony (the last of the day) means my future wife has plenty of time to get prepared, then a couple of hours between the service finishing and the reception starting means we should have plenty of time so our post-ceremony photos can be done without too much pressure.

    It pays to research your photographer, as in the UK, a lot of competent hobby photographers do weddings on the cheap. They may be excellent at landscapes and nature shots, but have no idea about how to photograph people! I have seen 2 blokes who were paid as the photographers, turn up with some impressive equipment, then have no idea how to use it, and so the family shots after the service ran on for so long the next wedding was about to come out of the church, and the full complement of photos my friends asked for wasn’t completed.

    A good photographer would check over the venue so they can assess any light issues to compensate for, be prepared for all weathers, and discuss what shots are needed with the bride and groom to be in advance, so it fits in with any timeline they may have produced.

  22. I agree with most things here – I am not a photographer but a singer in a band predominantly we do weddings and ceremonys- and I have to chime in and say a few comments on lighting in the evening/dance part of the ceremony – I totally get that laser lights must be a pain and we don’t turn ours on til after the first dance but bright house lights on don’t do a thing for the guests experience – I can say with out a doubt that weddings that have bright white lights on the dance floor all night to get good photos just don’t go as well – they just don’t – ever.It feels like a bad lounge room party -personally I would say get the first dance captured then adjust the lighting to ambient after that. Also one thing that bothers me alot is when photographers try to rush the evening along so they can get the first dance shoot and head home – alot of the time after dinner is the first time the couple have had time to relax and talk to there guests – its not cool to interrupt them talking to family to say ” ah could you do your first dance please” nor is great to ask couples to schedule it too early – give people a chance to relax after they have eaten – for the sun to go down and the caterers to clear up without being rushed- things generally always run later than whats on the schedule but by that part of the day – just relax. Also I have to say please respect the preformers – recently I had a photographer who stood in front of me for at least 4 songs taking photos completely blocking my ability to interact with the crowd and made me quite uncomfortable in the end – anyway I think a happy medium between the photos and the actual experience of the day is key – yes its a photoshoot to a point but above all its your wedding and a very special day for you and your guests – find a happy medium between the perfect photos and the actual day being a fun happy experience for everyone…the funniest cringe moment I ever saw was “aunty” with her ipad deciding she would like a shot of bride and groom at ceremony with the guests in the background – mid ceremony aunty sneaks into the garden behind the couple then pops up from the bushes and takes several arty snaps twisting the ipad this way and that …. it was especially cringeworthy as she thought she couldnt be seen and had a large fuschia hat on….poor photographers were rolling there eyes…luckily the couple were gazing into each others eyes and didnt notice….haha

  23. My #1 pet peeve on wedding days is the RBF that everyone in the wedding party seems to have during the ceremony – it magically goes away after a few drinks and some food at the reception. People, please remember you are happy, smile and look like you are enjoying yourself! It doesn’t have to be an over-the-top fake smile, just try not to look pissed off that you have to watch someone else get married.

    I also have started reminding my brides and grooms to enjoy the moment and to look at each other during the ceremony (not at the officiant! lol) I have to stand there zoomed in waiting to capture the millisecond you actually look at your soon-to-be spouse.

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