This is a wonderful time of year for planning a wedding; Designers showing off the newest dresses. Photographers jockeying for position and attention; bridal “showcases” every weekend; venues offering tours; caterers offering samples! Like I said it’s a great time of year.
No doubt, by now you’ve seen articles and posts advising you to have an “unplugged wedding.” Briefly, at an unplugged wedding guests are asked (at least for the ceremony but often for other parts of the day) to turn off their phones and tablets and just sit back and enjoy the day.
There may be a number of reasons for this. Possibly the bride and groom actually DO want you to watch their ceremony. Another reason, the sound of a cellphone ringing or other various electronic chirps add nothing to the ceremony.
There are other reasons. Photographers frequently rant online about how their pictures were ruined by insensitive phone-wielding guests. Frequently their rants are accompanied by a photo ; a masterpiece worthy of the Louvre’ but for the clutter of cellphones.
As a photographer, I could tell you stories about guests taking pictures at weddings. All of them quite amusing, yet….it’s never been a problem for me for a number or reasons.
First and most important: The digital revolution has made photography available to people in ways that nobody could’ve imagined. There’s a good chance that you’re reading this on a device right now that has two cameras on it. It’s just a part of the world we live in.
Second, when people use their camera-phones to take your picture during the ceremony (first kiss, coming up the aisle, whatever) it’s because they love you. It’s sort of like giving you a hug and it helps them feel like they’re a part of and enjoy your celebration.
Third; Let’s go back, let’s go waaaaaay back to when I was a news photographer, first in Chicago, later in Indiana. The idea of returning to the office and explaining to the editor that you didn’t get the picture because too many other photographers were in the way was NOT an option. If someone with a camera, or a street sign or a limo or whatever was in your way, it was your job to find a position to get the image to tell the story. That’s one of the things that made us professionals.
It never occurred to us (and it still doesn’t occur to me) to manage the behavior of those around me to make my job easier. These people are your wedding guests. Your family and your closest friends. They are part of the day and the photographer is there to capture it not control it. I say let the guests enjoy themselves. Let them BE themselves. And to tell you the truth, people are going to take pictures anyway.
The same article offers this verbiage: “We've hired an amazing wedding photographer named _________ who will be capturing the way the wedding looks and we’re...” To all my future couples, PLEASE don’t post this at your wedding. I love that you have a high opinion of me as your photographer, but I’d rather not have attention drawn to myself in this manner.
Are there things I would change at weddings to make my images better? Sure and within reason I manage those things to make our images the best possible. Is someone between the bride and me with a camera? Take a step to the left and they’re no longer a problem. Is there a trash can in the background as the bride and groom share their first dance? Move so it’s not. It’s what we do as professionals. But we really don’t feel like we need to manage the behavior of your guests in order to “create masterpieces.” It’s nice to take yourself seriously, but only to a point. Take a look at the work on our website. Does it really look like cellphones are a problem for us? You'll see people having a beautiful time and couples who trust their guests.
We realize our view on this is different from that of almost all other photographers. But, you see, your wedding day is a genuine and real experience for you to enjoy and the people closest to you to share. Let them be themselves. They’re so much better when they are. The day is not about pictures, the pictures should be about your day.