It’d been a hot day. Karen & Tim both had rather large wedding parties of more than 8 people each. The group was a little bit shy, but warmed up through the formals we’d just finished shooting. We made great time, finishing up with formals a whole 15 minutes early.

Eager to get a bite to eat, the wedding party headed toward the mansion where the reception would be held. We headed inside and began to reset our gear for introductions when I got a tap on my shoulder. It was Kevin, the DJ Karen & Tim hired for the event. He says to me in a hurried tone “hurry up, we’re doing introductions now..” as he turned and almost immediately began addressing the wedding guests on the microphone. We were not ready.

The second shooter who still had a memory card in his camera dove into action in order to get something. As Kevin introduced the wedding party, he seemed to be rushing, giving very little time for one group to get out of the way of the next. When Karen & Tim’s introduction came up, Kevin’s speakers gave out a shrill ring obscuring the sound of their names and plastering a less than enthusiastic expression on Karen’s face. Our second shooter’s images of the entrance were mostly ruined, and mine were non-existent.

We shook it off and kept going. Deviating from our expectations, Kevin took Karen & Tim straight into the first dance. Without time to change gears, we were forced to lower our standards to keep up. And each time the speakers squealed, we had to fight to find nice images of the couple sharing their first dance.

The nonsense continued into the toasts. There was no microphone that would reach all the way to Tim & Karen’s table, so Kevin just asked each person to stand next to the DJ booth while they gave their toast, which had them standing awkwardly across the room. Luckily, between the two shooters, we could obscure the awkward distance by shooting each independently, but this left no really good images of all three of them in the same frame. Again, we shook it off.

After the toasts, we were finally able to switch gears into full reception photography mode. Tim had said that his groomsmen, though somewhat shy, would probably loosen up and dance and he really wanted some ‘wild’ photos. The reception went on and we kept waiting for the moment to come, but it didn’t. One second, we would look out at the dance floor and think to ourselves, “they were starting to get rowdy out there”, when just the right song would come on. Then suddenly, Kevin would change gears to something slower, or more romantic.

In the end, it never happened. The evening ended without Tim’s groomsmen ever really loosening up.  Kevin couldn’t read his crowd. He couldn’t see his role in the other vendor’s responsibilities. And as a result, we were forced to compensate in ways that didn’t meet our standards. Valuable photos never took place and were never captured.

This is a sad story, and though true, it is really several stories. Karen & Tim represent at least three distinct couples we’ve worked with over the years and Kevin is at least a half a dozen DJ’s. Some have been better than others, but all of them ended up costing their clients in the end.

The point of all this is that your DJ is more than somebody making a playlist on iTunes. If you think all they need to do is play some music, you’d be wrong. Your DJ needs to be able to read a crowd and help the photographer set a stage for great images. The Kevin almost seems as though he’s competing with the other wedding vendors for whose job was most important. That’s a very, very bad way for a wedding vendor to behave, and because of it The Karen & The Tim didn’t get some of the photos they were hoping for.

So do us a favor and hire a really amazing DJ. Us and our clients have had excellent experiences working with Mixing Maryland and Event Pro DJ’s, and you should definitely check them out, but regardless of where you are, there are plenty of great ones to choose from. Just make sure you do your homework.