“Back off, and just let me do my job.”
We’ve heard this before. We’ve probably said it before.
It’s always a nuisance when someone gets in our way, prohibiting us from doing what we are expected to do. The result of this interruption is often a subpar result (in our eyes), and of course, we are quick to blame the obstacles — and the people causing the obstacles — that we didn’t ask for.
But what if we stopped placing blame? What if we made the best of a situation when we feel like we were dealing with the worst?
Choosing the Positive Perspective
These questions came to mind recently when I saw a wedding photographer’s viral post on Facebook (180k shares qualifies as viral, right?). The photos in the post showed a classic moment during a wedding ceremony — the moment when the bride enters with her father on her arm.
It’s a “must-capture moment.” And often, many of the guests want to capture this moment too.
Like many weddings these days, this photographer was blocked by a flailing arm, reaching into the aisle, wielding a mobile phone that was also trying to get “the shot.” As a wedding DJ, I see it all the time, even when people are explicitly asked to pocket their phones.
To the photographer, this moment was scarred. Her pure photo was ruined by a piece of 21st-century tech, centered right in the middle of the frame. She did her best, taking a shot of the bride with the phone out of focus in the foreground. Then a second shot, using depth of field to focus on the phone screen, getting a unique capture of the moment through the phone lens.
But still, this photographer was not pleased. She aired her frustrations on social media.
To the girl with the iPhone:
Not only did you ruin my shot, but you took this moment away from the groom, father of the bride, and the bride. What exactly do you plan on doing with that photo? Honestly. Are you going to print it out? Save it? Look at it every day? No.
But my bride would have printed this photo, looked at it often and reminisced over this moment as her dad walked her down the aisle on her wedding day. But instead, you wanted to take a photo with your phone, blocking my view, and taking a photo that you will not use.
Guests, please stop viewing weddings you attend through a screen but instead turn OFF your phone, and enjoy the ceremony.
You are important to the bride and groom, you would not be attending the wedding otherwise. So please, let me do my job, and you just sit back, relax and enjoy this once in a lifetime moment.
I completely empathize with this person. I’m sure all of us can. We always want to put out our best effort, especially when someone is paying us. When we can’t deliver, it feels like failure. It’s especially difficult because we know there was something, or someone, that held us back.
I also support the intent of this message. PUT THOSE PHONES AWAY. Events, like a wedding, should be enjoyed with your very own eyes.
From Blocked to Rocked
But as much as I agreed with the message, I was quickly turned off by the delivery — especially when I saw the two photos side-by-side.
The reason the photographer was so worked up is the reason she demonstrated why she is so good at what she does. In a matter of seconds, she took a shot, realized she had an obstacle to deal with, and ended up taking another. This time, perfectly framing and focusing the bride and her father in the phone screen before snapping away.
To me, the shot was not ruined. It ended up being unique, and not like every other, obstruction-free shot of a bride walking down the aisle with her dad. This photographer made the best out of her situation and created something special. That’s what sets a professional apart from an amateur.
Focus on the Positive Spin
Unfortunately, she was so upset that she didn’t even reflect on her genius. In fact, rather than scolding the woman, I think she should have been thanking her. And if she had, her post would have had a positive spin.
So here’s my rewrite.
To the girl with the iPhone:
Thank you for providing the perfect prop for this moment at the wedding. I’ve been shooting weddings for years, and this moment is almost as cliché as playing “Single Ladies” for the bouquet toss. But your arm, stretched out into the aisle, while holding your phone, provided me the perfect opportunity to frame the bride and her father and grab this once in a lifetime moment.
Many would think that you ruined a moment for an image that will likely remain stored digitally on your phone. But it was not ruined. In fact, I will be printing it out. I will show it to future clients. I will use it to explain how I deal with adversity, and still create art with whatever is in front of me.
Adjusting in moments like this is what I love about being a photographer.
PS Even though I appreciate what you did, next time, just leave your phone in your purse and enjoy the wedding through your own eyes.
I’ve always felt how we deal with challenges is how we prove our worth and showcase our best work. And we must always remember that despite a less than desirable outcome, there will always be a positive perspective hiding.
We just have to want to find it.