I know what you’re thinking: “Oh here comes another photographer complaining about everyone having a camera and taking all the jobs.” Nope, not even close. This isn’t a rant, complaining area, or even something I’m mad about. This post is for those of you planning your wedding – in hopes to ensure everyone involved enjoys the day and memories, captured by the wedding photographer.
With all the planning and deciding, there certainly is quite a bit to consider for the big day. Parents are always a big player in the game with the planning and it’s radical when they help things run smoothly. So the day arrives; everything looks amazing; the young love expressed is indescribable and breathtaking. You just have to be there watching and taking it in to even get a glimpse of how special this moment is. But all of the sudden, the bright, yet dull glow of an electronic screen is now between the moment and your parents’ adoring eyes. Your parent thinks: “Gah! They’re much more blue than what I just saw…hmm, kinda blurry, grainy, ugh why is that sun so bright? Ick.” Moment gone.
In this post I will give some pretty dang obvious, not so obvious, and deeper reasons to leave your camera in the car. More than just a flash ruining the lighting or a photo-taking guest in the shot; there are even psychological reasons to be aware of this topic. I will then go past just stating problems and offer some solutions. Or at least some tips that may get you started on your journey to a picture perfect (literally) wedding day experience.
I am sure no one means to get in the way of a shot. Well, photobombers excluded (I totally bomb peoples pics at weddings all the time. Your welcs.) It happens. Especially just getting caught up in catching a moment, sure. Now, think about if guests were told to not even bring a camera. As in, it’s not even an option. I bet they’d be sitting in their seat, just enjoying the special event. Right? Unless they had too much cake and get the jitters. Totally understandable then.
I am usually a polite person…you can totally take a picture over my shoulder for your own keepsake. I won’t say no as you’re already clicking away. However, now I am at war for their (the bride, groom, wedding party, family) attention like a three year old trying to interrupt their parent for a gumball. Yeah. The bigger the group of people, the more chances someone will blink, talk, or look somewhere else. If I’m the only photographer and attention grabber, the people in the wedding will only be looking in one direction. And besides, not to sound conceited…I am pretty sure I will have the better picture. Unfortunately we live in a McDonald’s type of world: Even if it’s a crappy burger, I want it right now rather than waiting for a good burger to be cooked. By getting your camera out and jumping in front, that’s exactly what you’re getting. Instead of waiting a few more days (I post a preview of the wedding within a day or two), weeks or a month for the best quality picture, you’re getting a grainy, probably not as color correct or as sharp image. Just so you can have and show people the next day at your work. If you get something better than me, feel free to fire me on the spot. :P
Hey I’m over here yo!
Wait wait wait. Stop thinking too far into this. I can tell…I can feel it already. No, having just people in the background of a candid moment is awesome. I love it. It actually is some of what I look for on the wedding day. For example, when a mom watches on to her daughter getting her make up done and her face just GLOWS with adoration (she was trying to move out of the picture!):
Literally makes me tear up. Even right now as I just posted that. Isn’t she the sweetest??
What I’m saying is seeing some electronic face that puts you in the cyborg family tree is what’s distracting. It actually can reduce the intimate feel to an image. Without going crazy deep in the psychological reasons (I really just don’t want to dust off this one communications book that nails this down to a T), seeing other cameras in an image makes it seem less like its just (the viewer) and the moment. There are other cameras and media capturing other moments that make THIS specific image more commonplace (therefore less special). Not to mention, you can’t quite FULLY enjoy the moment when you are fidgeting with the digital zoom on your iPhone WHILE the bride is walking down the aisle (for the only time in her life).
Don’t worry guys, I’ll have all their pics online for you to see!
I touched a little bit on this at the beginning. The idea that you are not seeing the moment actually happen, you are seeing an electronic interpretation of the moment when you have a phone/camera in front of you. Now please bare with my Communication Theory geekiness. Social Presence Theory mainly focuses on relationships conducted over a virtual world…that doesn’t limit it to just computer to computer, it is saying that there is electronic gatekeeper, so to speak. In this case, I’m focusing obviously on a camera/phone/ipad(clipboard…you’re taking pictures with a clipboard) etc. The combination of Social Presence Theory, coupled with Social Penetration Theory, you can quickly be removed from the moment. A camera or phone acts almost as a window; you’re now outside just looking in. You are not including yourself in the experience and the moment, you’re just an outsider. You might as well be home at your computer watching the bride come down the aisle or the couple’s first dance. This is probably my most important reason why we as professional photographers are hired to be that person looking through a window, so you don’t have to. (besides the art reasons, business ethics, organization…blah blah blah) We got it covered so you can even be IN the pictures, let alone be a part of the moment.
True story: I went up to a guest (one that was ripe with camera) minutes after the ceremony and asked “What did you think of the bride’s flowers…so cool right???” No joke, she said “uuuh..hang on…” and pulled out her camera to look.
At a 100% level: you can’t. We can’t avoid the age we live in with cell phones, iPads, and millions of digital cameras. HOWEVER, you can make them more aware of how that can affect you as a couple. I would suggest three different things…you can do one, or all three if you wanna go really bonkers.
Just drop a little love note that there will be a professional photographer to take on the role to capture the memories for you. Leave the camera in the car please. :)
Being creative with decor is soooo in, (choose a seat not a side signs, I’m looking at you) that this would still be a fun stylistic announcement. Same idea, kindly inform the guests “For your viewing pleasure, we have hired a professional photographer to glue a camera to their face so you don’t have to. Be respectful of our memories, and be a part of them.”
This has also been going on with cellphones and pagers (I leave my pager at home now) being more common accessories already, just include that the cameras should be stored away. Or at the very least to remain in your seat. (oh man, those aisle jumpers are tough to battle sometimes)
I know this will be tough to do, and we can’t expect this situation to just go away. It’s understandable that people want to apply their own EarlyBird filter to your first dance and hashtag the daylights out of it. That’s oooookkkay. At least by using these few little tidbits, there is a fighting chance. Cameras won’t jump out in the aisle for the first kiss, all group shots are done so quick without distractions, and mom&pops get to sit back to enjoy the entire night with your guests.
Being a wedding photographer is all about problem solving and using what’s available…even IF it’s the flash of a guests camera. :)