(Editor's note: This post was a collaboration between WeddingIQ's founder, Jennifer Reitmeyer, and co-editor, Kyle Bergner.)
By now, pretty much everyone in our local wedding market (DC/MD/VA), as well as lots of people elsewhere, are aware of the recent photographer/DJ conflict now known as #weddingphotogate. The complexity of the original incident, as well as all the ethical issues that were raised in the subsequent discussions, are nearly impossible to summarize – and frankly, probably don’t need to be recapped given the amount of information and opinions already circulating online.
For anyone who managed to miss the debate, it would be impossible to catch up on the full scope of what took place, since the original discussion threads – posted to a private Facebook group for wedding professionals – have since been deleted. However, we’ve gathered some links to posts and articles that do still exist:
- “What #weddingphotogate has taught me,” posted by photographer Carly Fuller on 9/2/15
- “Freedom to Capture Love,” posted by DJ Ken Rochon on 9/3/15
- “DJ Sparks Outcry from Photographers After Shooting and Sharing Wedding Photos,” published to Petapixel.com by Michael Zhang on 9/3/15
- “When This Photographer Posted Wedding Pics to Social Media, Mayhem Ensued,” posted to Forbes.com by Cheryl Conner on 9/5/15
- “What is #Weddingphotogate and Why Should Photographers Care?” posted to Resource Magazine Online by Brian Mullins on 9/7/15
Other blog posts, articles and videos posted by professionals in the industry include:
- “Why #Weddingphotogate is Worth Discussing,” by Kat Forder
- “#WeddingPhotoGate: DJ v Wedding Photographer!” by Eric Rossi
- “Why #Weddingphotogate is a Symptom of a Bigger Problem,” by Ashley Durham
- “A Stack of Pizzas? But You Were Only Supposed to bring Chips!” by Patrick Abanathy
- “When This Photographer Posted Wedding Pics to Social Media, Mayhem Ensued” (response to Forbes article), by Missy Mwac
We can’t count the number of times we’ve been asked when we’ll be commenting on this issue on WeddingIQ. And honestly, we were left scratching our heads. We’ve written over and over again about the issues of interacting respectfully with other vendors, about making ethical choices in your business expansion, and in not focusing on marketing when you’re supposed to be “on the job.” Clearly, #weddingphotogate didn’t happen because we just haven’t said enough. So what could we say this time that would be more effective?
We discussed the subject at length, trying to devise an angle that would achieve three goals – to provide a fresh perspective on an important issue, to serve our readership and to improve the industry as a whole – while respecting the privacy of the parties involved. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. We personally know both parties involved in #weddingphotogate.” In addition, one of us runs a photography company while the other runs a DJ company. Maintaining objectivity, as well as offering a new take on a topic that’s already been reported on exhaustively, would be difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, we’ve both already expressed our own strong opinions to our friends and colleagues, both privately and via our personal social media accounts. Which led us to wonder: what is our role here? What can we do with WeddingIQ, and what can wedding professionals do collectively, to eradicate conflicts like this in the future? Outcries on social media are a starting point for discussion, but without action, they’re nothing more than drama
It’s clear that this was not an isolated issue, and the parties involved are not the first to experience conflicts over vendors’ respective roles at the wedding, or over appropriate marketing tactics and the use of images. We’ve read numerous comments online that indicate this, and have received several anonymous rants in the past few days alone that suggest the resentment between photographers and other vendors is far from being one-sided:
- "Photographers are fallible. Maybe instead of spending so much time complaining about how they hate the planner, didn't get fed by the caterer, had the videographer get in their way, hate the DJs lights, how they don't want to be taken advantage of while they take advantage of others regularly, how they don't want to share images because it's so much work, maybe photographers should learn to get a long a bit better and be a bit less proprietary. I'm tired of the entitlement."
- "What makes the photographers have more rights than the rest of us….realistically, is this battle even over photography or is it about the fact that the market is shrinking, and there are too many photographers for the market that exists? Is any little affront simply one too many?"
So, it goes without saying that there’s a problem. When it comes to #weddingphotogate specifically, it’s clear that attempting to bring bad publicity to whichever party seems to be in the wrong isn’t effective. As is often the case, attempting to affect change in one particular person doesn’t work, because that person just isn’t open to the feedback. Instead, it’s important to look at the issues involved from a larger, industry-based perspective. This goes beyond just recapping the situation and throwing stones. We need to take it further.
We propose using social media, blogs and any other communication methods available to you to promote constructive solutions to the big issues that affect us all. Assuming you care enough to have an opinion, we ask: what are you doing to contribute to the wedding and event community? What opportunities do you have to educate clients and colleagues on things that matter? What business practices and standards do you feel will best serve the industry as whole, and how are you going to present them to others? Whether you start your own industry blog, join professional groups, or enlist the help of your fellow colleagues in spreading your message, we encourage you to be vocal. Be involved. Be an industry leader who does what you can to create real change.
#weddingphotogate won’t be front page news forever, so let's strive to keep it from being a recurring problem simply due to apathy.