I often get questions from clients regarding the etiquette behind feeding vendors and specifically photographers on a wedding day. I understand where these clients are coming from - if they didn't hire a planner, the only guidance they will typically get regarding this issue comes from the catering manager at their venue. In this post, I am going to share my thoughts and a few tips regarding feeding your photographers.

1. # of photographers?
Each photography team varies, so it's good to ask your photographer how many people will be on the team for your wedding. I always have a team of 3 people at each wedding - me, a 2nd photographer and a non-shooting assistant.

2. Coverage time/ Which meals?
It's important to factor in the amount of time the photography team will be shooting and determine which meals this time will span. For a typical wedding, we start before or around lunch time and shoot for 9 hours until well after dinner. If your photographer doesn't state in the contract their expectations regarding meals, it is a good idea to just ask in advance. We always provide lunch ourselves - usually we pick up Subway on the way to the wedding or I will send my assistant out to grab our team lunch while the second shooter and I continue shooting. We do ask the client to provide our team of three with dinner during the reception however.

3. Guest or vendor meal
The client generally has a choice between providing hot meals identical to what the guests are eating or providing us with vendor meals. Vendor meals are a less expensive option and can range from a boxed meal consisting of a lunchmeat sandwich, apple and chips to something warm but more basic than what the guests are being served. This choice is up to the client. One thing to keep in mind when deciding what to feed your photographers is that your photography team has typically been working for 6 hours straight without eating when the reception rolls around. We are thankful for ANY food at this point, but a hot meal really hits the spot. Sometimes I wish I didn't have to eat on a wedding day - that way I could just focus and stay in the zone - but unfortunately, I'm human. Food will help your photography team get a much needed boost in energy so they can finish the night strong.

4. Special diets
When you ask your photographer how many people will be working with them at your wedding, another great question to throw in is if any of them have any food allergies or sensitivities. I happen to be lactose intolerant. Usually it's not an issue - there is typically something dairy-free on the plate that I can eat - but there have been a few weddings where the food is extremely dairy-centric. It's not a life-or-death issue. But it's something that's easy to ask and make note of for your caterers.

5. When & where?
Near the beginning of the reception, my assistant typically checks in with the catering manager regarding when and where our team will be eating. The answer we usually get is "after the guests are served & in a room down the way." While this answer makes sense at first glance, it is problematic logistically. The catering manager has things set up this way because the guests are more important than the photographers. And I completely agree. The issue is, if we start eating after the guests are done being served, we don't have time to eat. We need to be up and shooting the continuing events of the reception. The other issue is, if we eat down the hall in another room, we will likely miss events that we need to be shooting. We need to be in the same vicinity as the reception while we're eating in case we need to jump up and shoot a toast or a dance. In my experience, catering and venue managers just don't understand this. It's frustrating. We do our best to work with their rules, but logistically these rules make it difficult to do our job AND eat food. Given the choice between one or the other, I do my job. So there have been times where I ended up shooting entire receptions without eating. I survive. But I'm not able to perform at the height of my ability.

One thing you could do to ensure that your photographers won't miss any events at your reception, is to ask the catering or venue manager to serve them at the beginning of the meal in a location in or right outside the doors of the ballroom. I know it sounds weird, but one of my favorite places to be is in a corner of the ballroom on the floor. We're definitely out of the way, but we are able to jump up at a moments notice when the DJ or emcee announces the next event.

Those are all my tips on feeding your photographers! Definitely let me know if you have anything to add in the comments!
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