Photo Prose: Your Opinion Please

By Gary Rabenko

What are your photographic priorities?

How important is proper decorum and unobtrusiveness during the chuppah? Some studios not only have a half-dozen crewmembers in the aisle, but they act as if they are the show! A few place the guests’ view of the chuppah above all things . . . but does that mean you will accept lesser coverage of the chuppah while the crew was being more considerate?

There was a while when you wanted a photographer to be unobtrusive. I only know a handful of photographers skilled enough to make a lot of meaningful candid shots, and they are not ironically the ones claiming to be photojournalists. But then while one was being unobtrusive and covering the event in a photojournalistic way, people would interrupt with requests for photos. Since great candid shots require different camera settings than requested snapshots, it is inefficient use of the time to switch back and forth. Do you value candid shots of those unaware and not playing to the camera, or posed shots facing the camera?

A related question is that if the photos are meant to tell the story of the day, is the real story told when most of the supposedly candid shots merely show people smiling to the camera? Does that show the event or are those types of shots evidence that the photographer interrupted the event by taking the photos?

Are events so similar that the crew should know what they are doing with little interaction? Playing their usual parts. Or are so many important moments of an event different or unpredictable in so many ways that crew interaction is advisable? If so, will gestures and overt eye contact be deemed a distraction or considered extra effort? Suppose during a speech the photographer further from the audience and closer to the speaker notes that an emotional audience reaction is about to begin. His associate photographer is close to that imminent action, with the correct lens and could easily cover the moment, but is trying to photograph the speaker, and has his back to the audience. Should the first photographer rush to get the audience shot, a movement distracting in itself, and placing him at the same angle as the second photographer to the speaker, or should he try to get his associate’s attention, which might not be possible without distracting some audience members, but would keep two different views of the speaker and would mean more thorough coverage as things happen? Would such an effort be appreciated or criticized?

The second photographer was doing one side of the family while the lead photographer did the other. For shalom bayis, the lead photographer wants to make sure to get a few special shots of the mother from the other family. She says her left side is her best and she wants shots from that side. It is clear to this photographer that the other side would make a better shot under the circumstances of his skilled lighting and posing. He does not have time to do both, and the other photographer did most of his shots from the preferred side. What should he say and do?

After the chuppah, the photographer is waiting to photograph the couple. He only has 15 minutes for them. Their arrival is imminent. He still has to fine-tune his lights and check camera settings. He has not had a second to take a sip of water or confirm that all is ready downstairs for the dancing. A couple requests a portrait of themselves. They came late and there was only time for the family photos, no couple shots. If the photographer does the shot, there is a good chance that it will never be used in the album and yet when the newlyweds come in, he will not be best prepared for their important photos. He is being polite but they are persistent. What should he do?

A photographer at a much lower level than the contracted photographer is present and will give some files or proofs to the family the next day for sheva berachos. His actions will absolutely interfere with all the contracted crew members; he will get in their shots, block their views or the view from their lenses, and also block the remote lights strategically positioned by the photographer from reaching subjects being photographed by the hired team. No doubt he could get some unique shot, just by being in that place at that time . . . but the client will never know how many other shots were ruined, undermined, or missed entirely because of his presence in the field of photographers. Should an attempt be made to educate the client on this danger? Guests take a few photos in a local way. He will be following the action constantly. A big distraction to all. What are your views on this? Should the contracted photographer care, or just let it be, and do the best that can be done despite this impediment?

After the bar mitzvah, what is a realistic time for a client to decide on their images and come back to the photographer for the album to be made? Usually the client will have paid entirely for the project, but has not made image selection a priority or has trouble deciding. It could be that he is so happy with the images and selecting a subset is painful. Or the opposite–the client hates the images and has trouble finding anything good. In any case, how long should the client be given to select their images? How long should the photographer give them to do so? And then what?

I would appreciate your opinion on any and all of the above, along with the perspective you bring. Are you a photographer or studio employee? Have you recently planned an event? Were you thrilled? What were your observations? Might you be planning a simcha soon and finding some food for thought in these articles? Do you have questions? v

Gary Rabenko may be reached at Rabenko Photography & Video Artists is located at 1001 Broadway in Woodmere.


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