From the title alone most of you probably have no idea what this article is about, though some of you do, I am sure. It’s about guests… at your wedding…. with cameras, cell phones, tablets, etc. Yeah, another of “those” articles. This one is also a suggestion, call it a plea if you will to brides everywhere to take control of your wedding, tell your guests to be a guest. You hired people to record the event, you invited your guests to eat, drink and be merry…..
Anyway, at a recent wedding, while photographing family groups, a guest was off to my right taking shots as well, making me wait for them in-between the groups. Now, I don’t really mind someone shooting next to me during these things, but…. they were holding up the works. At best, we get an hour for family, bridal party, and couple’s photos…. This guy used up I’d say 10 minutes of that time, just for himself. After a few minutes I said politely, with a smile, “You know they get everything I shoot, right?”, his response, “But I need to get mine too!” gave me a world of insight into today’s wedding guest.
It appears to me we have an interesting situation. It’s not enough to simply be a guest anymore. We all have cell phones that can do photo and video capture that was only dreamed about a little over ten years ago. Many people document every single moment of their everyday lives (seen the food photos on Facebook? ugh), so why wouldn’t they want to capture a wedding for a loved one, right? I get it, I really do.
Here’s the problem, it’s impossible to capture the day without impacting the day in some way. This is why I don’t believe in true “photojournalism”, simply being there impacts the way people act. For guests with cameras, it seems innocuous enough, snap a shot here or there. On the surface, it IS harmless, but let’s dig deeper.
Here’s a little test to take for yourself… be honest with your answers. Imagine you are getting married, which would you rather:
When you walk down the aisle (or see your bride walking down the aisle), would you rather see….
a) Your friends and family smiling, crying, cheering, screaming for the two of you…..
b) Your friends and family’s phone, camera, or worse… tablets, staring you down…
During the romantic couple photos of you and your new spouse…..
a) You’d want this to be a mostly private moment, with only the hired photographer/videographer present
b) You’d want a dozen people crowding in with cameras and phones to “get their shot”
During your first dance as husband and wife…..
a) You’d want your hired professionals to photograph discreetly, keeping the attention on you, since it’s YOUR wedding
b) You’d want everyone to approach you and say, “smile” so they can get a shot with their phone
When the wedding is over, you check your Facebook page and….
a) Are thrilled to see the Professional Photos your photographer chose to show as a sneak peek mere days after the wedding
b) You’d rather see all the less than professional photos guests took in various stages of inebriation with their camera phones
When you think back on your wedding day…..
a) You like to think you hired good vendors and trusted them to do their job
b) Were so glad everyone took thousands of photographs and butted in, preventing your hired professionals from doing their job properly… hey, you have more photos!
For your wedding…..
a) You tell your guests to enjoy your day, and leave the recording to a pro, after all, you PAID them, and their photos will be better because of being able to do their job
b) You tell your guests to have a ball and take all the photos they want, knowing this will interrupt the Professional you hired, and likely lower the quality and quantity of photos you receive from them
Sound a little sarcastic? Perhaps. I don’t really mean it to be. I simply want to point out the obvious: Every time a guest gets out of their seat, gets in front of the photographer, makes the photographer stop, etc., etc., etc., they IMPACT your wedding. Enough impact and the professional is severely crippled at doing their job properly. Every little thing counts at a wedding, we all know that. So, when Aunt Mary stands in the aisle as you are coming down it to meet your groom, she just ruined a photograph that cannot be reproduced. When Uncle Bob walks onto the dance floor during your first dance and tells you to smile at his camera phone, he just ruined a moment that could have been forever captured by your photographer.
Some of you might be thinking, “Hey! You’re just two people! How can you capture EVERY moment at my wedding?”. Here’s a little secret: You don’t want EVERY little thing recorded, you want the story told, and you want it told well….. Here’s the scoop… for YEARS before everyone had cameras, photographers were telling wedding stories, most times with only one camera and until fairly recently with under a hundred images of the day!
So here’s my request: Tell your guests to leave the cameras at home. Tell them to shut off their phones. And, for goodness sake, leave the tablets anywhere but at the wedding, they are ridiculous. IF they simply MUST take photos, tell them at the reception, after the dances, cake, and other things are done, have at it. Those are the “people” moments, and they will undoubtedly photograph things your professionals won’t, simply because there’s no way for us to intimately know the workings of every family in just a few hours.
If your guests actually do this…. We can do our job better, provide you with better photographs, and…. here’s the best part… YOU, your SPOUSE, your FAMILY and your GUESTS will ALL ENJOY YOUR WEDDING! In addition, the photographs you invested in will be even more precious, more meaningful, and ultimately, more valuable for years to come.