- 6 years ago
- Wedding: August 2014
Let’s talk about guests and their cameras.
I know this is something some bees are talking about recently but I wanted to give some perspective on what I have seen this season and how it’s affecting my clients’ images. At the last 6 or so weddings I’ve shot this year I have had at least one guest, often more, taking photos and video during the ceremony with their iPads. I have some beautiful wide angle shots from the back of the church with an iPad (with a hot pink cover) jutting straight out in the air in every.single.shot. It’s the very first thing you focus on when you look at the image and there’s nothing I can do to fix it aside from just not taking wide shots, which limits my coverage in a way that no couple wants. I have another shot where an iPad is stuck right out in the middle of the aisle as a dad walks his daughter down. It’s big and the first thing you notice and it’s going to date the photos in a way no one wants.
If a guest is particularly interfering with my coverage during a reception I usually have the opportunity to go up to them and discuss it and work it out so they can get the photos they want and I can still do my job and deliver great images for my couples. I can NOT do this at the ceremony. If people are jumping out in the aisle in front of me with the cell phones, cameras, and now iPads, I’m going to miss the shot of your groom’s face and there’s just no opportunity to talk to those people and prevent it (and I also have no way of predicting who is going to do it to try to find a different angle in advance). It breaks my heart to miss these important shots and I hate having to tell couples why this or that shot is missing because they usually have no idea what was going on.
Your guests mean well. They really do. And they all want their own photos and they all want to be the first to tag you in them on facebook. Most of the time they don’t realize they’re bombing your photos but it doesn’t change the fact that they are. The blurry, grainy cell phone/iPad shots you get tagged in are not an even trade for the images coming from the camera you paid for. They’re not getting printed, they’re not going in an album or up on the wall.
I urge you not to think that this can’t happen at your wedding. All of the couples who had guests with iPads had no idea their guests were bringing them and were incredibly disappointed to see them in their photos (this goes for cell phones and point and shoots too, but iPads are especially big and attention grabbing). It’s not about this person or that person having a camera, it’s the Instagram culture that has taken hold that makes it a big old mess at special events. It’s each guest wanting a piece of the action for themselves and not realizing that as a whole they’re actually doing you a disservice.
I shot a wedding recently where the couple asked everyone to please put their cameras and phones away and I was blown away by the images I was able to get at that ceremony because I’m SO used to fighting the arms out in the aisle and the little boxes up in front of everyone’s face. People were laughing and crying and really connecting with what was happening in a way that I know from experience can’t happen when you put a camera between yourself and what is happening around you. None of their guests were upset when the couple asked this. If anything it seems like there was some relief around the room because there would be no jockeying for the best cell phone photo of the processional. I’d honestly stopped even turning to the crowd during the ceremony at most weddings because I couldn’t get any camera-free, emotional shots and I didn’t want the couple to realize looking back at their photos that no one was paying attention to their ceremony. Everyone at this wedding had an awesome time, they all still took plenty of pictures at the reception that didn’t ruin a thing for the couple and I have so many more timeless images for them than I do for many of my other couples.
No photographers want you to ban all your guests from taking pictures all day. We just want the best images we know we can deliver and we’re not getting the opportunity to take them. There are many ways to have an unplugged wedding – you can ask your officiant to announce it, you can put it in the programs, you can ask yourself when you’re up in front of everyone, you can leave a sign in front of the door. If it’s important to you to have your guests present with you don’t feel like you can’t ask or it’s rude or people will be offended – it’s your wedding, your images – I’ve yet to see any guests upset when a couple asks and everyone always complies. It’s sort of just a reminder to them that this IS something special and worth being present for.
Here are some great ideas on how to spread the word to your guests: http://offbeatbride.com/2011/06/unplugged-wedding-templates