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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are we people, or just hired help?

I shot a wedding this last weekend for a very rich family. They were a bunch of lawyers and the air wreaked of money. Let me tell you, I was very nervous to do this wedding! If anything went wrong, they had free lawyers! lol

Anyway, every wedding that I have shot so far I've never felt like the "hired help". I like to do laid back and fun type of weddings and the couples have treated us like a friend.

The day of the wedding, we arrived at the salon at the hotel to get "getting ready" photos.
The bride and her bridesmaids were very nice and I relaxed a bit about how I would be treated. Her mom was very nice as well. What caught us off guard was how we were treated by the staff at the hotel.

When we got to this fancy hotel, it was clear that we weren't a customer, so we didn't need to be treated as one. Wait. I mean, treated as a person. We were stared at the whole morning while we were taking photos, and if we even LOOKED at the platter of food and drinks they had out for the bridal party, we were given evil glares.

The party was running behind (as usual), so we took a break to go see if the reception hall was decorated yet. There seemed to be a staff member nearby where ever we went, so we went outside to get a drink and a snack from our car.

When we came back in, we finally got the bride ready and rushed her off to the church for photos since we were an hour behind schedule- I hate that! After we were finished with the outdoor photos, her family wanted photos inside, so we started on them. For the most part, everyone was cool, but I did get treated a bit poorly by some of the family.

Fast forward to the reception (meaning, back to that horrible hotel), we were back to being treated like second class citizens by the staff. I was relieved to see that the DJ was a friend of mine. Unfortunately, he wasn't staying since his business had grown big enough to hire someone to do it for him. Bummer.

I usually enjoy the excitement of the day (why I do weddings), but my mood was very down due to how I was treated this whole day. I just wanted to get the rest of the evening over with at this point. So, as we waited for the wedding party to arrive, we discussed with the DJ how the contract states that they must do the reception events in a timely matter so I do not have to stay late. After waiting and waiting, the DJ finally had to drag the party together to get them announced. So much for respecting my contract.

After getting the party in and settled, I talked to the bride about the evening and reminded her about making sure to keep on schedule. I took this time to ask how they were doing the eating arrangements. I require a hot meal at reception since we are usually there 10 hours. She proceeded to tell me that they would have a meal for us in the some-fancy-name-for-the-hallway. Great. Put us in a closet so nobody sees the animals eat.

We had a staff member come up to us and showed us our little whole in the wall spot and said she would bring our plates out. I asked where we would get drinks and she looked at me as if I just asked for a twenty pound lobster with butter and black forest cake for dessert-sorry, I haven't eaten yet. She asked what we would like, and I said maybe a small pop with ice?

We went out to the hallway (after asking the DJ to get us before announcing anything we needed pictures for) and waited for our glorious dinner. The same lady came out shortly after and set down our plates and a basket of rolls. We didn't get our drinks until ten minutes later-wasn't that so nice of her?

Now, I can't believe as a photographer I didn't think to get a photo of this. What we had was chicken and a salad with the rolls and butter. Sounds fine, right? Well, not the way that we got it. They (wait staff) put the semi-hot chicken on the bottom of the plate, then just threw the salad on top of it. The lettuce was warm with no dressing. The chicken was hard and the rolls even harder. It took us 5 mins to just cut through it (roll)-no, we didn't eat it, we just wanted to see. We just ended up taking our Pepsi (came in a can-THANK GOD) and decided to hit Taco Johns on the the way home. We didn't even get cake.

This all brings me to this-as photographers doing a service, should we just deal with being treated as the "hired help", or should we expect to be treated as a person as well?


Allie @ Table for 3, Actually Make that 4 said...

OMG that sounds hellish! I would never allow anyone to be treated that way especially if they were doing me a favor and taking pictures of my wedding lol, sorry for a crummy day!

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my goodness. I can't even believe that! I have been fortunate. All of my venues treat me and the second shooters fantastically! I can't imagine that!

Ashley Sisk said...

What a great article - and this is the reason I don't want to do weddings. I remember when I got married that I treated my photographer like a friend. I even told her just to eat whatever we were eating since it wasn't a sit down meal. We had plenty of food so eat up! But hotels that treat anyone like that...I wouldn't go back there for sure if I knew that's how my photographer had been treated.

Stasha said...

That is a tough one. I mean am appalled by your story but at the end of the day I have learned long ago that when doing business you must endure. You simply cannot change the world or educate customers. They are the ones hiring you.
One thing is for sure, you will more then likely never visit that venue for your own pleasure, you will probably never do this couples future photo sessions and you will never be friends with any of the above mentioned people. But as long as you get paid for your session you can simply call it a bad day at work.
It always amazes me any human would treat somebody differently from what they would want to be treated themselves. Sad.