This year I attended my first wedding as a guest since I started working as a wedding photographer. It was weird. Every 5 minutes I found myself in a panic and reaching for my camera. But it wasn’t there! I didn’t take my camera with me, much to the surprise of other guests, and it proved to be an incredibly liberating experience.
I chose not to bring my camera for two distinct reasons. 1) The couple had hired a very competent (and dare I say incredibly talented) wedding photographer. And 2) If I’m going to go out, I’m going all out. In the case of photography that means I’m bringing the big guns, and I just can’t justify the uncompensated back-pain from lugging around my equipment all day. Of course it is my first reason which I want to discuss here.
Wedding guests often become the bane of our (photographers’ and videographers’) existence. It is a common complaint that they ruin what would otherwise be beautiful shots with their cameras’ incessant flashing and by standing directly between us and the couple…
My friend Christy shared this video, and I think it sums up how most of us professionals feel about our amateur counterparts.
In some cases totally nerding out with your smartphone can make a charming addition to a wedding. Asha and Joel created an Instagram hashtag for their wedding and encouraged all of their family and friends to share their snaps. I checked the feed as the day went on and there were plenty of photos taken during the ceremony, cocktails, and reception which Asha and Joel will cherish for years to come.
To unplug or not to unplug, that is the question
There are plenty of reasons to ask your guests to leave their cameras at the door, but there are also some convincing arguments to encourage your snap-happy family and friends. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding to go unplugged or to let your geek flag fly.
Are you hiring a professional? By “professional” I mean someone who makes a living as a photographer or videographer. By hiring someone you trust you can feel comfortable asking your guests to leave their cameras at home. Your photographer will capture the important moments. If you are not hiring a professional you can have your bases covered by encouraging your family and friends to take photos.
Do you want your friends and family engaged in the ceremony? Do you want them in your photos? It is not uncommon for people to spend more time staring at the back of their camera than at the bride. Strange, I know. If the answer to either of these questions is yes, ditch the gadgets.
Are you ever going to see the photos? I sort through and delete dozens of photos from each wedding I photograph because distant family members insist on standing beside me, distracting Mum and Dad with their point-and-shoot cameras while I photograph family groups. The sad truth is the bride and groom will likely never see Uncle Fred’s photos. They will, however, receive a DVD of high quality photos from me. If you do not intend to receive photos from your family and friends it is perfectly reasonable to ask them not to take photos during your wedding. It is your wedding after all.
The best advice I can give you is to communicate with your guests about your wishes. They are all there to celebrate with you because they love you and want to see you happy. If you have a particular plan, share it in the invitation. Speak with your officiant about your preferences and have her or him make an announcement at the beginning of the ceremony.
What is most important is that you are marrying the one person who makes you the happiest bride or groom on the planet. At the end of the day, as you look at each other for the first time as husband and wife, all the other details will seem so insignificant in comparison. And that, love birds, is what this whole celebration is about!