A sacred moment when two people’s lives will be forever changed as they become one. With dignity the celebrant helps guide the couple through this most special time. It’s a time of reverence as the closest family and friends look toward the altar; just the couple, the clergy….and the photographer? Really?
It doesn’t have to be this way and when I see it happen, I want to beat my head on the back of the pew in front of me. But see it I have. I’ve seen photographers on the altar moving around the couple like a doctor performing a thorough physical exam, their auriscope a 150 watt second flash.
We’re sure that the photographer on the altar is doing a bang-up job but upon reflection we ask ourselves, is it really worth compromising the dignity of the event to get that close? The simple answer is no.
When photographers behave in such callous fashion they’re a distraction for the guests, the couple and the clergy. There are other ways to tell this story. The day is not about the pictures, the pictures are about the day.
That’s why we go to wedding rehearsals. Actually there are several reasons, but this is the first. Going to the rehearsal helps us understand the choreography of the ceremony. Knowing this helps us to know where to be during the ceremony (and where NOT to be) so were well out of the way of the ceremony on the altar and at the same time able to capture these most important moments.
While we’re there we can introduces ourselves to the clergy. The clergy does not own the church, synagogue or venue of the wedding, but they are still the one in charge. At this time we ask them if there are any guidelines they’d like us to follow while we’re documenting the ceremony. Courtesy.
A second reason to attend the rehearsal is to more closely understand and know the people we’ll be working with. We can see how people respond to each other and this helps us document those relationships. If I see a bride consult with her grandmother numerous times during the rehearsal, I know that’s an important relationship. What about the groomsmen. Does the best man who’s also the groom’s brother hang with the rest of the groomsmen? Are they cohesive as a group or do they each have individual relationships to the groom? Knowing these things makes a difference in what we’ll look for the following day. The wedding day is about people and relationships so we try to be aware.
So we’re at the rehearsal. We’re familiar with the people, with the venue, with the ceremony, just about everything. The last perk I’ll mention is that by coming to the rehearsal, we’ve made the bridal party and family familiar with ourselves. I find it so much easier to work in an environment where people know me. It only follows that people will act more natural and feel more comfortable around a photographer who they’ve seen or met before. It’s a special day with a number of intimate moments. It’s hard to image people opening up as much to a stranger.
Cheers. And remember, don’t be that guy.