Photo Magic BY: Arnoldo Offerman

March 10, 2012 by Arnoldo Offermann

Whether vendors want to admit it or not, DJs have the biggest impact over the course of an entire event. Depending on our preparation, skill level, and willingness to work with others, we can make the jobs that the other professionals do a lot easier or a lot harder. You already know this, so I’m really not going to set forth any further examples. However, if you have NO idea what I am talking about, then I suggest you read as many books, watch as many DVDs, and learn as much as you can about our profession.


My biggest hobby is photography. What started out as a simple DSLR and two basic lenses to get promotional photos, has developed into a full-blown kit with a myriad of primes, zooms, and specialty glass. I’ve even gotten the chance to shadow a professional photographer and shoot a wedding. This has allowed me to change my MC routines, lighting design, and overall show, to make things a lot easier for the photographers I work with. In turn, I get a lot more referrals, the satisfaction that my clients will get the best photos possible, and the photographers donÕt even care that I have a pro-level rig to shoot photos for myself. That’s right; and many have gone as far as to offer tips, exchange ideas, even lend me a lens or two for some specialty shots. One even offered a transmitter so I could use his off-cam flashes. For safety reasons, I deny these gracious offers, but the fact remains: I love photographers and they love me. In turn, I would like to offer some ideas to help YOUR fellow photographers. This is based on shooting a wedding or two myself and thorough discussion with other photographers.


As you set up, try to find a nice spot for the photographer to stage their equipment. This also keeps them from plopping equipment down near your clean set up. Contact the photo ahead of time, introduce yourself and give them a copy of the timeline and notes about the reception. Discuss any special activities, or any warnings on low-light situations or
special lighting effects you’ll be using. Avoid direct LED lights. If possible, try bouncing floods off ceilings. The reason is that many photographers like shooting wide and with no flash. This yields to fantastic low-light shots, but if there’s a direct flood, you will get a hot spot that ruins the moment. Bouncing lights also give a better presence of colors throughout the room. Specialty lighting, such as laser dots, LED dots, etc should be OFF during important dances.
This is especially true for laser dot effects, as a flash canÕt override these effects. The only thing that combats lasers is a high shutter speed. With flash, this is only as fast as 1/200, which doesn’t help too much. The only special effects lights I recommend that can be ON during special dances would be moving heads, disco ball effects,
and barrel lights such as a slow-moving Martin EFX600. However, leave those lights off for at least a minute during the song (you can leave the floods on). This allows the photographer to get some nice shots without ANY moving lights disrupting the subject in focus.

There are some primma donna photographers who will tell you they need the house lights on so they can focus. ANY decent Speedlite flash has a built-in assist beam, so no lighting is needed to focus; there’s also a mode on your flash to give them light to focus. I can confirm that having the house lights on helps, but it’s normally hogwash when people say it’s NEEDED. Still, why fight it? A little bit of house lighting during the special dances will not hurt anything!

When introducing the cake cutting, remind guests that the space is reserved for the photographers to get the shots they need, after they are done, the guests are welcome to take their own photos. Many cakes are set up in front of mirrors or windows, and the reflections of guests with cameras is NOT flattering. The couple will also be very distracted and not look in the right direction. Consider this for the return-to-altar shots (photos after the ceremony) as well.
Speaking of RTA photos, and especially if it’s outside, bring some water to the bride and groom AND photographer. Remind guests lingering or slowing down the process that the party has already started in the reception room OR announce that you need everyone inside, as you will be lining up the wedding party shortly.
Basically, get people to leave the photographer and wedding party ALONE.

This is common sense, but ALWAYS keep the photographer in the loop. Use 20, 10, and 5 minute intervals and ALWAYS check with them the moment of. When a photographer disappears, it’s not due to incompetence but usually wedding guests and the couple pulling them aside to get photos of this person with that person. When setting up the bouquet and garter removals and toss, and even the Anniversary Dance, ask the photographer if they have a preference on position (AKA stage blocking). You may not realize that putting the bride against your bright Source 4 monogram projector will create a terrible backlight effect on photos.

BE CREATIVE! If I have a monogram projected on the floor, I mark a spot with a small piece of tape. This spot shows the couple where to start their first dance, and it allows the photographer to get a nice photo of the couple dancing IN FRONT of their monogram.

Last, but not least, line up the wedding party so they are the backdrop of the first dance. Photos look MUCH better this way. Remind them to look at the couple at all times. No hands in pocket, no chit-chat, and no stupid faces.
These few tips will make the photographer LOVE you. I can guarantee that! Your job takes on a whole different vibe when you realize that the mood and ambience that you as a DJ and MC create will be captured forever in the coupleÕs wedding photos. Try your best to make everyone’s job easier and your WOM between vendors will grow exponentially!
Should you have any questions about photographers VS DJs, feel free to contact me anytime. MB

Arnoldo Offermann Arnoldo Offermann (40 Posts)

Arnoldo Offermann is the president of 4SchoolsOnly, a national phenomenon in school dances. In a market where DJs cry about $500 school DJs, 4SO sees 10-20x that price tag per event. Arnoldo is also the creator of Master School Dances, the leading educational tools for DJs wanting to get into this great market. He is a sought-after speaker, reviewer, and DJ tech-writer. You can learn more at

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