This is a bad feeling. Firstly it may not actually be that bad… If it is bad, The female ex-bride in me wants to say the onus for something like this lies on the stylist, photographer & anyone else you trusted to help, like the maid of honour. However if it really was THAT BAD, what could anyone have done? Held up the wedding??
I think it’s a difficult thing sometimes for a photographer to know what to say (especially if it’s one that doesn’t have an eye for style or fashion). Even if they realised they would probably be worried of insulting you, overstepping their mark (since styling is not technically their job – so kind of a grey area)… or worse ruining your whole day. This is especially true if it was such a mess it would have taken hours to fix. Announcing it to you would have given you loads of anxiety, vs just letting you get on with your special day.
As a photographer I do think part of the responsibility on these things DOES lie ultimately with the person behind the camera (especially if they accept the job knowing there will not be a separate stylist), but also there is responsibility with other professionals/friends you entrusted… I’ve been in front of the camera a fair amount and know what it feels like – especially on the wedding day – but also I know from the other perspective, so this is a hard one.
For the most part I’ve been lucky being photographed. But I did have a really bad experience several years ago with an inexperienced Director of Photography when filming a month’s worth of documentaries for a pilot series (I was behind the camera presenting). I was livid with the DOP for not mentioning so many times issues he should have noticed, but didn’t have the “eye” or the experience to see. Oversights rendered footage unusable several times: the slit in my little summer dress that had inched up far too suggestively during a key interview, or when I was sitting in a way that looked really manly and unattractive when we had to position sound equipment between my legs because of space etc… There’s something to be said about budget here though, because if it had been stretched to include an artistic assistant of some type – wardrobe person, or a set manager or separate director for example – those oversights wouldn’t have happened. But there wasn’t the extra staff budget and there wasn’t the extra budget to re-shoot, so I had to deal with it and accept it.
…TO AVOID THIS ON A WEDDING DAY: it would be good to retain the stylist (if your budget allows), or at least designate a friend who has some sort of a clue, to watch out for hair, make-up etc… Although I have to say: If it were me as your photographer, I like to think I would have taken some action to protect you.
On the otherhand, once a bride’s dress did not fit well in the chest area at all and I could clearly see this, but could not help. If she had had a padded bra, or a corset or something, I would have suggested she wear it, but she didn’t. Re-lacing her dress didn’t work… There was really nothing I could do, apart from photographing knowing I would need to airbrush afterwards and trying to shoot with that in mind.
So it may have either not been that bad in general and/or there may have been realistically nothing that could have been done other than telling you, which would have only ruined your day & your memories totally… DON’T KNOW IF THIS IS A GOOD EXAMPLE BUT – Once as a favour, we took a friends teenage daughter and her friend to London for a “big-night-out” treat: Through friends and contacts I arranged to get them into various members only clubs; a night of having red carpet rolled out for them, mixing with celebrities, paparazzi running around, champagne & VIP rooms… Although I think they were probably THE popular girls back home, this sort of glamorous London experience was something they were unaccustomed to as girls from the rural countryside; something most 18 year old girls are unaccustomed to. They probably spent days planning their best outfits, but when they came out all dressed-up and ready to go, I remember being a bit shocked, thinking they both looked really cheap! Here they were thinking they looked their best. They were ultra excited and so nervous! What was I going to say: “You both look cheap and tacky”? Even though they had time to change, my suggesting they did so would have totally finished off their confidence and ruined the night… In the end they said they had the best night of their lives. They felt like princesses. When they returned home, that one event helped to further elevate their status locally even more as The Cool Girls… A few years on, they still have a lovely memory and they were never any the wiser that they maybe looked a bit out of place. They (and all their friends) still have what I see as a really awful sense of style, but they are still as popular as ever. So they must be doing something right!… So just because it’s not one person’s taste, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
AS A WOMAN & AS A FRIEND: I know my stories aren’t nearly as important or heartbreaking as something going wrong on your wedding day. I know. But I guess what I’m trying to say (and give real examples of) is things aren’t always perfect, but you’re not alone… And anyway maybe everyone else doesn’t see it as being as bad as you see it. Your hair probably looked pretty good to at least a fair few other people.
Style is a subjective thing… And although sometimes things do sometimes look wrong for the occasion (like the country girls going to the big city). I personally think most brides hair looks FAR, FAR, TOO PLASTIC. IT really probably isn’t as bad as you think.
1 – Find a photographer that has an understanding of style and fashion (NOT in that they will be pushy and impose their taste/style on you, but that they have a firm understanding of managing standard issues on hair/make-up/wardrobe and avoiding catastrophes related to these areas.)..NOT TRYING TO CAST ANY ASPERSIONS AGAINST MALE PHOTOGRAPHERS, BUT A FEMALE PHOTOGRAPHER MAY HAVE AN ADVANTAGE HERE.
2 – Make sure you have a good rapport with your photographer – especially if you don’t retain a stylist. The photographer needs to feel they have the mandate to be able to tell you if your hair looks bad, or your dress fits poorly (if it is manageable). Only in the case if something is wrong – not to overstep or judge with their personal taste. This responsibility is common in fashion photography, but not in wedding photography… It probably sounds crazy, but if a photographer feels comfortable enough that they can touch you, this allows us to naturally/automatically rectify something like hair in the wrong place, or (horrors) a bit of fat poking out where it shouldn’t… again NOT TRYING TO CAST ANY ASPERSIONS AGAINST MALE PHOTOGRAPHERS, BUT A FEMALE PHOTOGRAPHER MAY HAVE AN ADVANTAGE HERE AGAIN.
3 – You also need to be able to communicate any worries to the photographer and help them in what to look out for (what’s important to you). Like if you ask, “does my hair look OK? Can I stop and have a look?, Do I have time to re-do my lipgloss?” etc., this helps the photographer see what is more important to you, when it is a subjective area… Additionally if you have a problem area personally, PLEASE tell the photographer.!! If you don’t like your nose, or your ankles – or wherever – tell your photographer! Mention this bEFORE YOU HIRE THEM: If they look at you like they kind-of didn’t hear what you said, or seem like they don’t sympathise, find a different photographer… IT’S IMPORTANT THAT A PHOTOGRAPHER IS PHOTOGRAPHING YOU TO SHOW YOU IN THE WAY YOU PREFER. YOU NEED TO LIVE WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHS FOR A LONG TIME. (For my own work, I am always watching for body language and subtle comments from a person to see what they most like/dislike about their looks… as well as what I consider to be their best features and angle aesthetically)
4 – Find a photographer with excellent retouching skills… A photographer who additionally has these skills will know first hand while their shooting what is fixable and what is not. They will be able to communicate with you not to worry, or -in the case of your hair being a mess- that it probably can’t be fixed very easily in editing software.
5 – Hire a professional OR have a family/friend helper who you can designate these problems to. Just be careful not to ask a “drama queen”, who will go into over-kill mode with their role and stress you out even more. (*even just a reasonably mature college student, beauty student that you can pay an affordable amount to would be acceptable to help you.)
HOPE THIS HELPS 🙂