‘Who’s that guy over there?’ I ask the bride. The man in question is waving around a shiny new Nikon – it looks like a d850 – and having some aggressive words with another guest. He’s got this look about him, like he’d invite you round for a gin, but you wouldn’t be allowed to touch anything in his weirdly neat house. I’ve already decided to stay away.
‘Oh, that’s Uncle Bob,’ she replies. ‘He asked me if he could bring his camera. I told him not to get in your way.’
I nod, and don’t really think anything more of it. Until I spot Uncle Bob out of the corner of my eye, lurking behind a bush with his camera while I’m taking the group shots. And again when I’m shooting the creatives. And, you guessed it, again when it comes to cutting the cake.
It’s safe to say that Uncle Bob got in my way. I look back through my captures and there’s a shot of his wispy grey hair peeking over the groom’s right shoulder like some sort of creepy omen. I can see it becoming a meme.
Now, I have no problem with guests bringing their cameras to weddings. Even if they want to take fifty shots of the cake to find the ‘right one for Instagram’. I get it. Everybody likes to have their own mementos. But the Uncle Bobs of the world make me want to take those mementos and shove them where the d850 doesn’t flash.
The difference with Uncle Bob is that he has deluded himself into believing he’s a master photographer. Thanks to his disposable income, every time a new lens is released, he buys it – and you better expect a 2000 word review on his photography blog. He has subscriptions to Digital Camera World, Amateur Photographer and Digital SLR Photography, and reminisces about the time when he first picked up a camera in his forties after realising that he had a ‘good eye’, when really it’s because he watched documentary on Ansel Adams and thought it looked easy.
You’ll usually find him accosting the hired photographer at an event, armed with questions like, ‘What did you think of Canon’s foray into mirrorless? Groundbreaking stuff, huh?’ Either that or he’ll try to compare equipment (please, God, no). And instead of socialising like everybody damn else, he’s laying in wait for me to emerge from the woods, or the toilet, or the bar to snap a shot of me. Yup, me. Why the hell would you want a shot of me?!
But the thing that Uncle Bob does that really gets my camera strap in a twist is when he gets mad at me for getting in the way of his shot. There’s me, trying to do what I was paid by the wedding party to do, and all of a sudden he’s hurling abuse at me. So, okay, I might have deliberately stepped too far to the left as revenge for his candid of me eating some cake earlier, but at the end of the day this wedding’s not big enough for the both of us. It’s time you moved on, mate.
I encounter one of these guys at almost every wedding. Just leave us photographers alone, and focus on making sure your wispy grey hair doesn’t become the next supernatural internet phenomenon. Or better yet, entertain your wife who clearly feels like she wants to become a widow the moment you decide to bring your camera. Don’t be like Uncle Bob. Be like cool Aunt Jo who buys me a gin after the ceremony. That’s the kind of guest I’m happy to see at a wedding.