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Yes, Wedding Photographers Should Be Fed. No, You Cannot Delete Anything From the Internet.

The world wide web was set ablaze this week by the photography community when Brides.com published an article telling prospective brides which vendors they should and shouldn't be feeding, and this advice strongly suggested photographers should not be fed. Of course, anger ensued. Surely, in this day and age, the author would have crafted a rebuttal or an apology to the legion of photographers in the trenches that she had scorned. Nope. They silently covered it up.

The article had been published for a week before anyone noticed it — treating photographers like cattle, calling for them to not be fed alongside the royalty of the wedding planners and DJs. Photographers were quick to grab their pitchforks. Several hours into the firestorm, I stumbled into the conversation, but upon reading the article myself, I couldn't find any mention of photographers at all. In fact, a quick ctrl/cmd+F search of the page did not yield the word "photographer" anywhere in the article. Imagine my surprise when I am trying to figure out why everyone is so upset and I'm starting to chalk it up to a misunderstanding. The author, Sandy Malone, does mention that vendors who are only working the wedding itself needn't be fed. I could see the confusion in this. After all, she's referring to the 5-6 hour period where DJs and caterers are doing their business, not the other 5-6 hours a wedding photographer has been working before this point.

Fast forward to right now. I'm submitting this article to the editors for publication. I'm proofreading and I click the links to make sure they work. I think, "hmm, that's strange, the link isn't working." I go directly to the Brides.com homepage to find it the old-fashioned way. I see right there on the right sidebar that it's one of their top trending articles, but when I click the link, alas, it's dead. It is an ex-article.

Let this be a reminder to each and every one of you: Once it's on the internet, it's there forever. Even though it had only been up for a matter of hours, the article was quietly revised. And then. just an hour later, it was totally removed. But I found the web archive of the original. Indeed, Malone callously suggested that wedding photographers shouldn't be fed because they should be working during this time, right after she specifically mentioned how the wedding planners "will probably be on deck from the crack of dawn until your reception is over." Malone is a wedding planner herself, by the way.

There are exceptions to every rule, and Malone is right in one regard: Common sense should be exercised to some extent. The problem is that a publication is speaking to soon-to-be brides. And the vast majority of brides have no experience planning a wedding, nor do they know what is expected in the industry. This is an article in a position of educational authority. You cannot expect common sense to be so common. Yes, I wouldn't be concerned about feeding your wedding photographer if you're having a courthouse wedding or even a quick 2-4 hour elopement. As a photographer, I'd probably be taking the couple out to dinner on my dime if it were just the three of us out on the town anyway! The fact is that your average wedding is going to fall in the 8-12 hour range, and the average wedding is also going to be very demanding for your photographer, more so than probably any other vendor.

"Vendor." I hate the word vendor. But more than that word, I hate that vendors are so many times treated like second-class citizens. It still happens when you read about vendor meals, or hear stories about wedding planners yelling at photographers for talking directly to the bride. In my initial consult with a bride, I'm always very sure to explain to her the importance of liking her photographer on a personal level no matter who they choose, because they will be spending more time with us and interacting with us more than almost anyone during the entire day. We can't expect to perfectly click and be best friends with every couple, but we strive to earn some level of admiration and respect organically. I regularly refer to how we strive to view ourselves as "guests that have been hired to document the day." I use the word "guest" as a symbol of both status and humility. While I believe we have some sort of elevated position above "vendor," we are not more important than any other guest.

The bottom line is that photographers should be fed during a full wedding. Brides.com even suggested it in another article from two years ago. Let's be completely honest here. No one wants pictures of their faces stuffed with food. We eat when the bridal party eats. It's in our contract and discussed before the wedding. We need to be done when the bride and groom are done. Even pre-eating table shots are awkward and irritate the shy guests (and it shows in their faces).  The social butterflies are irritated because you stopped them in the middle of a story they were telling a long-lost friend they haven't seen in 15 years, so that you could shove half the table over to one side for an awkward non-family photo. The average guest is upset because they're in a group photo with people they don't even know. I personally don't do table shots unless asked, and in over 100 weddings, I've been asked twice, both times by the mother of the bride.

The moral of the story is to regularly review your contract and get it checked by a lawyer. If you don't have something in there about receiving a guest meal after a certain number of hours (typically 4 to 6), be sure to add it. More importantly, make sure you are engaging in quality communication with your clients well before the wedding to make sure expectations are understood. Even if it's in your contract that you require a meal, if your clients feel blindsided on the wedding day, you're going to be the only one that looks bad.

Oh, and remember: You can't delete anything from the internet. Don't even try.

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54 Comments

Brett Martin's picture

When I had my wedding we hired a photographer, videographer, and DJ. All of them and their assistants were assigned a table to the side of the DJ booth where they could eat and rest for a few. Our photographer shot from 8am to 11:30pm. The only time she stopped standing was to eat dinner for about 20 minutes.

A good way to piss off your "venders" is to screw them in one way or another on the dinner. Many pros have sections in their contract that cover dinner for themselves and any assistants. Also I mean, it's a really nice gesture.

Sean Molin's picture

We had a finger-foods buffet with mostly kids menu-inspired food at our wedding. EVERYONE was welcome to it at any time.

We were actually inspired to create our menu because at most weddings my wife and I shoot, we're always jealous of what the kids get. After a long day of shooting, I don't want slightly-overcooked chicken, some bland starch-o-the-day, and a vegetable medley. I want fried chicken tenders, mini hotdogs, french fries, and mac-n-cheese bites! I always get a shirley temple as my non-alcoholic wedding drink, too.

We also opened up the buffet early and let people bring food to the ceremony and eat.

Prefers Film's picture

We actually choose our venue based on their spinach salad with bacon and seasonal fruits (well, it was also a historic building, and three minutes from our house). At the reception, they served 89 crossaint sandwiches, and 89 salads without bacon. I have never spoken a kind word about them since.

Tyler Newcomb's picture

Some people are so ignorant. I know that the first time I worked as a photographer (not at a wedding, at a climbing competition), my boss told me to help myself to any food whenever I needed to. She was grateful for the help, but also realized that if I was just taking photos for 6 hours and didn't eat anything, I would probably be a bad photographer and or passed out by the end of the day, since climbing photography is especially active.

And didn't they learn in school two things? One, to always share, and two, that nothing on the internet goes away?

Dave Camara's picture

Sadly, the ignorant person who wrote the article is a "wedding planner"!

Gino Carlini's picture

If that's not bad enough, She has a Wedding Planning Reality show on TLC, which makes her bloated arrogant ego even worse... Reality TV is the worst thing that could have ever happened to television.

Javier Larroulet's picture

Try "mankind" instead of Television :)

Franklin Newton's picture

I don't get the outrage over this. Well, actually I do, and it's a sense of entitlement.

The only thing that really matters is what you put in your contract. If you feel, as a working photographer, you deserve to be fed, then make it known that it is part of the contracts you write up. Or bring it into negotiations. You have every right to refuse the contract if the bride and groom don't want to feed you. Conversely, the bride and groom have every right to refuse the contract if they don't want to feed you.

I personally don't know why a couple wouldn't want to feed their photographer (and other staff), as they are typically a large part in how successful the wedding turns out to be. My wife and I fed our DJ, photographers, videographer, etc, simply because they helped make our day, and not only that, they were a part of our day, even outside of their tasks. They're humans, they can't help but also get a little emotional seeing the love on display that day.

But overall, who really cares if some magazine writes to not feed your staff. That doesn't affect your life. At least, it shouldn't. Keep doing business the way you have been; writing contracts where you include what your expectations are. If you don't, you have a very poor business model.

Sean Molin's picture

I don't disagree with your general sentiment that it comes down to your contract and it is up to you, but it's still not a good idea to spread and instill the idea that it's not normal to feed photographers.

It's one thing to say "it will depend on the photographer, just check their contract," and another to say "they should be working," which implies that any photographer who is eating is lazy, and in a roundabout way is her telling us how to do our jobs. This also came right after the same wedding planner was telling brides to feed wedding planners because they work all day, as if photographers don't.

robert norman's picture

I'd only say because her bad advice perpetuates bad behavior on the brides part, especially since shit wants to come across as an authority. Ive said the a million times, I'm not expecting a gourmet experience, but isn't it simply polite to feed people working for you 10 hours +?

michael andrew's picture

The author is criticizing a suggestion made by another author on a popular bridal website visited by many brides planning their first wedding. This is how misinformation spreads, people write horrendous information predicated on smoke from their ass and feel obligated to dismantle an industry practice that has taken decades to refine by working professionals. All because she needed some clicks.

Eric Mazzone's picture

Everyone needs to remember this Sandy Malone idiot was featured on Huffpo telling photographers how to kiss her ass, that we need to stow our gear in places SHE chooses, that we eat when SHE wants us to eat and that we better stay out of her way or she will make our jobs difficult by giving us bad information. She is TLC famous because of her trash show Wedding Island on TLC. Take five minutes and watch her show. She's a whorible person, and yes I speelled horible that way on purpose.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sandy-malone/5-cardinal-sins-committed_b_5...

Sean Molin's picture

Woah, she really has beef with photographers.

To be fair, there are a lot of demanding, rude, and just plain bad photographers out there, so it doesn't surprise me that someone would develop a bad taste in their mouths.

Jason Lorette's picture

This woman sounds like a horrid person who is very "I am the center of the universe, revolve around me". If I go a full day wedding without eating, you are going to have blurry pictures, because I'll be a shaky, weak mess by the end.

Eric Mazzone's picture

Bad photogfaphers are one thing, this woman seems to treat ALL photographers are we are evil? But the same can be said about planners/coordinators. She's a horible one, so should all planners/coordinators be seen as she is?

My feeling is, she has to have good images to market herself, IF for some reason I was selected by a bride as her photographer, and this lardass made herself a PITA to me because I won't kiss her ass, there is NO WAY IN HELL that she's get image one from me, EVEN if the bride decides to send her some from the wedding, if lardass posts it or uses it, I'll have her in federal court quicker than she can eat a cheeseburger and fries. After which all she'll be able to afford to eat will be hamburger helper for the rest of her life.

ALEXANDER TARDIF's picture

Funny and at the same time quite enraging stuff. This gal clearly doesn't miss a meal at a wedding herself.

Becky Burgin's picture

This is a terribly unflattering pose for a heavy person, along with an 'In Your Face' expression. Inside joke by the photographer who took it?

Prefers Film's picture

+1 for your new word.

Eric Mazzone's picture

I had to go back and look what I did there. Thanks. :)

Jan Freire's picture

she looks like really nice person tho .... LOL

Danielle Andrews Sunkel's picture

At the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, it is actually a part of our Wedding Planner CURRICULUM that Photographers need to be fed at weddings.

David Liang's picture

That's good to know info, thanks!

robert norman's picture

After a fair amount of back and forth yesterday on Twitter (I was pretty angry) she wouldn't back down from her stance nor answer simple questions ( "why is it YOU should eat but not us?") and eventually blocked me ( as she did several other people) So that about sums her up right there!

Eric Mazzone's picture

I've been blocked from her Facebook page because of a prior article she wrote two years ago, the lardass.

Gino Carlini's picture

It seems that this moron Sandy Malone has taken to blocking every photographer on twitter that tweets about this... Like we would care! ...lol Here is the link to her TLC reality show facebook page..It only has 269 likes..lol https://www.facebook.com/WeddingIsland

Jan Freire's picture

Yes, I'm proudly block by her too!!!

Halee Betzner's picture

YES to this article! I mean....my clients wouldn't *want* me to go unfed. Not pretty. :) haha! Favorite wedding meal ever was breakfast for dinner! It was so awesome.

Brendan Baker's picture

LOL She blocked me today. Seriously really unprofessional woman. Would be ashamed to work with someone like her.

Sean Molin's picture

She blocked me on Twitter. Ha.

Eric Mazzone's picture

We really need to go after TLC to get them to remove her show. Demonstrate to them that she's unprofessional and unreliable, and they SHOULD remove her. But of course TLC is the Honey-Boo-Boo network and 15 thousand and counting network and they stood by those two messes for years before finaly dumping them.

Gopinath Ram's picture

Meanwhile here in India where I do my Wedding Photography, my clients be the couple their parents or any one of the relatives won't let us leave the venue without a meal and stay close to us asking for our need till we finish. Even if we insist on leaving without having food they won't let us.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

I really have trouble with people at weddings offering me alchoolic drinks. I'll gladly take a pop but when they insist on a whickey or a beer ... I still have to drive an hour to get home and then spend another hour starting the backups before I go to bed ... I'm old and don;t drink much so I'm a light weight. LOL

Zackary Mejias's picture

I smell a boycott. Photographers band together and refuse to work a wedding she's planning.

Sean Molin's picture

Accepting alcohol for us just totally depends. Sometimes we can partake when we're all done and have put our gear away if we're asked to stay as guests. Of course, this also depends on driving arrangements and such.

Prefers Film's picture

Dude, you're there for 3 days. They have to feed you! ;)

Justin Haugen's picture

I can't believe how many people she responded to on twitter. That would be my worst nightmare.

Sean Molin's picture

She just blocked me instead of responding. Oh well.

Justin Haugen's picture

She blocked me too. I asked her "how tired are you of responding to angry photographers?"

Stacey Brookes's picture

Ok, let me see if I understand this correctly. I am a bride and I am planning my wedding (I do not have a wedding planner, btw). I am spending $125/per person for the plated dinner and from what I have read from most of the photographers who commented on the original article and other discussion I am expected to pay another $250 to feed my photographer and her assistant the same meal I am paying to feed my family and closest friends ON TOP of the SEVERAL thousands of dollars I am paying her to shoot my wedding? I feel like there are many photographers who are thinking too much into the article, because that seems like a pretty terrible expectation.

Funny thing is I asked my photographer and told her about the outrage I am seeing online about it and she said that she is an adult and a professional at that, so she is capable of fending for herself. That is not to say that she NEVER takes a break but that she does so accordingly.

I did, however, ask the catering company if there was a meal option for "vendors" and was advised that they offered a "Vendors Box" which was a substantially sized gable box full of food for vendors, from sandwiches to easy to consume snacks at a marginal cost to the Bride & Groom. I thought that would be a good option, but reading the comments it seems like photographers expect to get a lavish wedding meal as a perk of photographing a wedding. That doesn't seem right to me.

Eric Mazzone's picture

Not a full meal, but a vendors box would be sufficeint. Of course for some reason I have a feeling that you are in fact Sandy Malone trolling this site.

Stacey Brookes's picture

Lol, nah I'm not Sandy Mallone. I don't even know who she is really. But I am getting married so I'm glad I did get the vendors boxes though.

Sean Molin's picture

Ultimately, it comes down to communication. If your wedding photographer doesn't necessitate a guest meal in her contract and you agree on a vendor meal before hand with her, all the power to you. A lot of photographers specify in their contracts that they require either a "guest meal" or a "hot meal". But if I had to guess, your photographer is honestly shocked at your frugalness and is just being the professional adult she should be in telling you it's okay. I always notice the most expensive weddings tend to be the most stingy to vendors. Vendors are not second class citizens. Without them, your wedding wouldn't be what it is.

I don't get it. If you're spending $125 per plate, I'm assuming your wedding is overall expensive; at the very least $40,000. I shoot $50-60k weddings that have cheaper plates than that. Why on EARTH are you complaining about $250? Treat the people who are coming together to make your day happen like human beings and with respect. Photographers, we are a HUGE part of your day. We're with you almost every single moment. We're with you more than your family and friends in most cases. We're working before the wedding to plan the day for you. And we're working afterwards to make your photos the best they can be.

In my very serious opinion, you should be offering a guest meal to your full-day vendors as an act of kindness and goodwill; as a thank you for them being there for you. Going above and beyond for those in your life always reflects positively on you. We rarely get tips, but sometimes we do and we never expect it, but man it puts a smile on my face and puts us in the best mood! That only benefits the quality of work we provide.

When it doubt, remember the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.

Stacey Brookes's picture

Thanks for the input. The way you explain it makes it make a little more sense, from the photographers point of view. My father actually took out a loan for my wedding, so yes, of course I am frugal. We aren't rich people and I of course want to make it as cost effective for him as I can. But I get it. I did want to ask, however, in regards to tips. Even though it isn't expected, how much is a suitable tip if you are happy with a photographer?

Sean Molin's picture

Nailed it. Spending a year planning a wedding but not spending that same time planning the actual marriage is like going to photography school instead of business school. :-p

But seriously, NO ONE should EVER take out a loan for a wedding. Not. Worth it.

Sean Molin's picture

I certainly appreciate the understanding and civil response. I'm happy you have an open mind toward these sort of things.

As far as a tip goes if you do want to do one (which is always appreciated), I'd say $50-$100 per photographer would be absolutely solid. If it's a married couple or just a solo photographer, a $50-$100 gift card to a nice restaurant or similar would be acceptable. In any case, you don't need to base a tip off a percentage or anything. Just a reasonable amount to say 'thank you' is more than enough.

Prefers Film's picture

I just had a clause that if we weren't fed, there was an extra charge. That $150 covered my Clif Bars and Cokes.

nigel walker's picture

What a bunch of entitled whiners. You've heard of bananas and Cliff bars right?

Prefers Film's picture

Not Cliff bars, no.

Duncan Bell's picture

I googled her....

Ralph Hightower's picture

So, it's okay to feed the DJs, who spend less time at the venue than photographers!? All they have to do is show up while the ceremony is going on to set up shop. Photographers have to be there way before then to set up. I've read numerous responses from the articles on Petapixel, DIY Photography, and SLR Lounge and all say "feed the photographers!"; they don't mind if they get a vendor meal.

I hope that the Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/) archived the Brides magazine article before they deleted it to CYA. Sandy Malone is an idiot! Yep, Sean, you found it!

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