Blocking Uncle Bob

Uncle Bob ruining the kiss photographUncle Bob is a term that wedding photographers use to describe a wedding guest who sometimes (usually) gets in the way of the hired photographer to get a picture on his camera or cell phone. I understand Uncle Bob. There’s usually at least one at every wedding. They want to be the FIRST one to post a video clip or a picture of the wedding on FaceBook or other social media. They all know the wedding couple have hired a professional wedding photographer, but they still feel it is their responsibility to get that shot because surely they have a better view or angle than that “Pro” does. They will get in the aisle while the bride is coming, or they will pop up to get the picture of “the kiss”.

Uncle Bobs really bother and frustrate a lot of wedding photographers. To be totally honest, they don’t bother me. I’m going to get my shot whether Uncle Bob’s face is in it or not, and my fees are not dependent on whether it’s perfect, or whether Uncle Bob ruins it or not. It bothers the bride… a lot, and that’s why I’m writing this blog. A bride wants her wedding to be perfect, and she wants her wedding pictures to be perfect. I want to make the bride happy. So here are a few suggestions on how we can block “Uncle Bob” from ruining the wedding pictures.

San Antonio Wedding Photographer Richard Spears at August and Anna's wedding Uncle Bob at wedding photographed by Richard Spears

Wedding Photographer Richard Spears example of an Uncle Bob at a wedding

In recent years, the popular term was an “unplugged” wedding. In unplugged weddings, guests are encouraged to turn off cell phones and cameras, and be with the couple “in the moment”. Recently I’ve experienced some guests who not only want to photograph or video the ceremony, they come to the wedding with professional quality DSLR cameras, and manage to follow the couple around from the ceremony, to the end of the reception, ending up in almost every photograph the Pro takes.

If I were a bride, I’d be a little upset if one of my guests gets in the way of the Pro Photographer that I’d spent money on. It’s like ordering a beautiful wedding cake, and your Uncle Bob guest eats a big chunk of the cake before the reception begins. So HOW do we block Uncle Bob?

Here are some techniques that have worked in the past with some of my wedding clients

  1. The Unplugged Sign – Post a large hand painted sign at the entrance to the ceremony with your wishes for an unplugged wedding. It seems to help.
  2. Officiant or DJ announcement – Before the ceremony begins, have the Officiant or the DJ make an announcement about turning off all cell phones, iPads, iPhones, cameras, video recorders, etc. A good one can make this pretty entertaining.
  3. Invitation reminder – put a note in the invitation about your feelings on folks ruining wedding shots with their cell phones.
  4. Personal Phone Call – If you know you have someone on your guest list who fancies himself/herself as a photographer, you can make a polite phone call reminding them that you have the photography covered, so they can leave their camera at home. This has the potential to upset some personalities, so be careful in how you word it.

Don’t let Uncle Bob ruin your wedding pictures.