We live in an increasingly documentative society. Most of us have smart phones, and the cameras on our electronic devices are better than ever. It’s quite usual for us now to take a snap and post what we’ve been up to on social media, sharing all our experiences. But do we ever really consider the thoughts of others when posting, particularly at weddings?
I feel I’ve been talking a lot recently about this subject, having been asked to discuss it on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, when a bride recently told me at her wedding reception that there was ‘already’ a shot of her on Facebook ‘pulling a bad face.’ It was only just after dinner too. Who are you people who do this? I’d never post an image of someone looking bad online anyway but I have had people put awful ones of me up. You know the people, the ones that have to share everything they took, even the blurry ones. Can we not stop our desire to share, even when it comes to someone’s wedding day? This is why I felt it was time to write this post!
Kate Bush made the headlines recently by not allowing pictures to be taken during her gigs and we totally see her point. I’m sure we’ve all attempted to take pictures with our phones at a gig and let’s be honest, they look like utter garbage, so why bother missing the moment to look through a screen? It’s this same thought process which we need to consider for weddings too before we reach for the Instagram, and I’m sure as a guest it’s something you’ve never considered. Picture the scene, our happy couple say their beautiful vows and exchange rings. Those magic words are spoken, ‘I now pronounce you…’ and they kiss. Beaming at each other, they turn happily to their guests… and are faced with a sea of phones pointing at them. Not quite how they imagined it would be I’m sure.
Now I’m not just being trite here, we have seen this happen! To be honest, this isn’t so great for the couple. Their guests are physically in the room with them, but not actually ‘with them’ at one of the most important moments of their lives.
So how does an unplugged wedding work? Don’t worry, you don’t have to go all Kimye and seize phones at the door, just ask whoever is officiating your ceremony to make an announcement that you only want the official photographer to take photos until the signing. Most registrars we’ve seen actually do this anyway as they don’t want the disruption. The harsh reality is that many guests aren’t as considerate as a professional wedding photographer, they usually use flash, some have focus beeps enabled on their cameras, they step into the aisle, and even worse, use the red focus light which we can tell you does not work well with a white dress! Want some examples? A frustrated US photographer recently posted a blog showing some of her failed shots, as a direct consequence of guests going for theirs. It makes for an interesting read, and provoked some discussion on our Facebook page when we posted it, asking how people felt about cameras and phones at their wedding. Recent bride Katy said, “We are SO glad that we opted for an “unplugged” ceremony. We asked the registrar to request that everyone turned off their phones and cameras, and we put up signs welcoming guests to our unplugged ceremony. It meant everyone was WITH us for those 20 minutes of solemnly declaring… and it was AWESOME.” We can concur it was indeed, awesome.
So it’s not us photographers being high and mighty here, guests can, and have, disrupted our work. Saying that, we are much more casual about guest photography than many photographers we have been told about! During the rest of the day, shoot away folks, we really don’t mind. But there is definitely an argument for having your photographer be the only one shooting your ceremony. After all, you paid us your hard earned cash to capture it for you, so surely uncle Bob shouldn’t get the best shots over us?
At the time of the Kate Bush gigs, I was interviewed on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire about it, which you can listen back to here and do let us know your thoughts on this one!
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Lastly, we were going to put a couple of our own fails in here, but we have decided not to. The point of this post is not to embarrass anyone but merely provoke discussion and possibly educate – so we shall leave it to your imagination, and if you look at the American website you’ll get the picture!