He Spit What Where?

This month, I’ve been discussing how truth is stranger than fiction (TSF).  This week, I’m going to be talking about the most unlikely events you might ever imagine that happened at at weddings.  I don’t just mean stuff like you might see on the TV show Bridezillas (although I’m here to tell you those are not far from the truth in some cases).  As many of you know, I’ve been a professional photographer for several years.  So needless to say, I’ve photographed more weddings each year that most people attend in a lifetime.

At any rate, my TSF story today is about the very first wedding I shot professionally that was for a complete stranger and not as a referral of a friend or family member.  At that point, I’d shot weddings for strangers for my BFF’s studio for several years, but this one was all mine (and my sister’s – we’re business partners in photography).

Normally, I like to meet the bride and groom in person and have them sign the contract when they’re here.  Then I like to take them on an engagement session so that I can get to know them, and they can get to know my poses, style, etc., which will make things flow smoothly and quickly on their wedding day.  But this first wedding was not that simple.  The bride and groom lived several hours away but were getting married here in the groom’s parents’ yard.  I’d talked to the bride several times on the phone and explained things thoroughly, and I asked several questions until I felt that she understood what I’d be doing and I understood what she wanted.  Unfortunately, that was not to be so.

The day of the wedding, the bride, who we’ll call Mandy, wasn’t ready on time.  No big deal as brides seldom are.  We started shooting the groom and groomsmen.  The groom, who we’ll call Tom, didn’t want to spit out his wad of chewing tobacco to take his photos.  I begged and pleaded, but he was unyielding.  Finally, I said, “Come on, Tom.  Mandy wants great photos of you, and she won’t be happy if I can’t get any.”  (His lip and cheek were literally bulging with tobacco not to mention the nasty brown flecks on his teeth when he smiled!)  So, finally deciding to be compliant, he spit the tobacco out… right on me!  Yes, really!  (Don’t worry; his groomsmen yelled at him.)

Though it didn’t seem possible, the day got worse.  While I wanted to cry and leave, I didn’t.  After we shot the guys, we went back in the house, and Mandy still wasn’t ready.  So while we waited, Tom’s grandma asked us to help hang decorations.  We were younger then and not as comfortable telling someone that we weren’t hired to do that.  So we helped.  My sister Michelle followed Grandma to the porch, and was instructed to stand on a stool and hang something.  But when Michelle opened the stool, she sliced open her hand and blood started gushing everywhere!  Worse yet, Grandma then started yelling at her not to mess up the floor or table!

We then had to photograph Mandy and the bridesmaids (who seemed oblivious to the fact that I had a big, smelly tobacco spit stain on my shirt).  Except not one of the bridesmaids wanted to be photographed.  At all!  No matter what fun poses we instructed, whenever one of us would raise our camera, the girls would hold their hands up in front of their faces!  It was like we were trying to capture a group of participants in the witness protection program!  So literally every single photo of the girls that was not just the bride alone was ruined because Mandy’s friends were too selfish to think that she might want to commemorate her special day with photos.

By now, we really wanted to leave, and the ceremony hadn’t even started.  Fast forward an hour or so, and the backyard ceremony was underway.  However, so was the rain.  We specifically asked Mandy beforehand if she’d made provisions in case of rain, and she assured us that she had a tent.  But the tent was not a tent.  It was an open canopy which wasn’t even large enough to accommodate the entire wedding party, much less anyone else!  It’s not that I was afraid of getting wet. (In fact, I’d have welcomed a shower to wash the tobacco spit off me!)  I know I’m not sugar and I won’t melt.  But you can’t get thousands of dollars’ worth of photography equipment wet or you’ll have nothing more than a glorified paperweight.  Furthermore, with raindrops falling in front of and landing on the lens, the pictures will look horrific.  So Michelle put away her camera then stood over me with an umbrella while I captured the rest of the ceremony.  The Grandma made it very clear that she didn’t want guests inside her home, so people started to leave shortly thereafter.

But Florida being Florida, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.  So we waited, and the rain stopped.  It was time for the formal family photos.  However, Tom’s mother didn’t like Mandy, so she refused to come outside.  (She watched the entire ceremony from a window inside.)  Needless to say, however, when the couple got their photos back, they complained very loudly that in our incompetence we failed to capture a single photo of Tom’s mother.

Immediately after the ceremony, Mandy’s father ran like his bed was on fire inside the house and changed into a Hawaiian shirt, cutoff jeans, and flip-flops.  So as I bet you’ve already guessed, that was what he wore in the family photos as well as in the father-daughter dance.  Well, you probably aren’t surprised by now that we were blamed for that as well.

All this on top of the fact that Tom kept loudly referring to us as “those F-ing photographers” (and various other expletives that I’ll restrain myself from repeating).  Luckily, this horrible day was not a bad omen of what our studio would be, but about once every two years, we do run into a wacko who we just can’t wait to be rid of.

So tell me, have you ever known anyone who was so blatantly rude to their wedding vendors?  

(NONE of the photos below are from the wedding described above.  However, I was the photographer for each of these beautiful weddings.)

(*Please note that 99% of the weddings we shoot are wonderful, and we enjoy them very much.  But the rare, bizarre ones like the one I described above do tend to stick out like a sore thumb.)

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24 thoughts on “He Spit What Where?

  1. The groom who shot his wad of tobacco juice on you should have been slugged, Rachel, no doubt.

    However, on the flip side …

    I have been rude to wedding photographers. Not as the groom. (My professional photographer friends shot my first wedding and we eloped for my second and the city hall clerk took Karen’s camera and did the honor.) But as a groomsman, I have told a photographer after seeing and antsy groom and bride that they were tired of posed, cheesy shots and an hour away from their guests that it was time to wrap the session up. Only to get the reply that this was the photographer’s decision, and the unhappy couple would be thankful forever after to have each and every carefully thought-out pose. I knew these dear friends were not the type who would want all the groomsmen holding the bride horizontally in her beautiful gown, or the bridesmaids lying on the lawn staring up at the groomsman as if he were a Greek God … but the hired photographer surely knew better than I.

    • Oh, Mark, that story makes me grimace. Unfortunately photographers like that give us all a bad name. If a photographer is truly a “professional” they have to spend time with the couple to find out exactly what they want and don’t want and also how much time they want to spend on posed photos. We usually can do it in 30 minutes after the ceremony and before the reception and it only goes a little longer when we can’t get the wedding party to put their cellphones down. Sometimes, we have a bride who will tell us they want a full 2 hours of photos in between, but we always play the day by ear and never force them to do anything they don’t want to do. We take our direction from them. In the case of THIS story (above), it was obvious that the bride never told the groom one thing about what he could expect, and there was also family problems as evidenced by his missing mother.

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