Do you love photos as much as I do, so much so that you’ve encouraged your friends and family to take as many photos as they can throughout your wedding day? I know. To say I wasn’t one of those people I would be lying. I wanted every photo taken from our wedding day. I wanted people to take their phones out, post things to Facebook and send it all to me. At the time I did not realize that those phones and camera’s would be in some of the professional photos we paid for. While it did not bother me much then, looking back, and now being a photographer, I wish I had everyone unplug and be in the moment as we said our wedding vows.
If you are someone who doesn’t want the phone out, and from the start want people to enjoy the day and not worry about taking their own photos, I applaud you. This I know can be hard for some people, but its wonderful to see hands free of devices while I am photographing a ceremony.
There are strong arguments on both sides. There really is something special seeing your wedding day unfold from your guests eyes, but many photographers have noted that having “guest photographers” often compromises how your professional photos will be in the end.
Not too long ago I was talking to my sister about her wedding and if she wanted guests to be taking photos in the church they will be married in. She told me she did not think about it too much yet but she did see some signs that talked about being unplugged. She asked me what I thought about it and if I thought having an unplugged ceremony is a good idea. Now, my sister loves to have her photos taken. She is so beautiful and so confident that being in front of a camera is easy for her. Wouldn’t she want more people capturing images of her and not just the photographer?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not have a problem with guests taking photos and sharing them later with the couples. I encourage this! It makes me happy to know that there are other pictures and photos of moments that I may have missed. I also whole heartedly understand that some guests may have a love for capturing photos and enjoy taking pictures at weddings that they attend.
However, my heart breaks when a guest ruins an otherwise lovely image or jumps in front of me when I’m capturing a key moment from the day. It completely destroys me when this happens because, while I am not remotely egotistical at all, I am pretty confident that my image would have been better than the one they captured. Over the years of being a professional wedding photographer, it’s been sad to watch the progression from seeing smiling, encouraging and happy faces as the bride is escorted up the aisle to faces hidden behind the backs of cameras and cell phones that line the aisle.
Here are the reasons why I am happy when I hear of couples opting for an Unplugged Wedding — or, at the very least, an Unplugged Ceremony.
- During a few weddings, I have had guests shove me aside or step in front of me to get the shot. When a guest steps in front of me or is standing in the aisle, I always get sad. The end result is that your attention immediately goes to them and not the real subject of the image. I have so many photos of the bride and grooms first kiss or while they are walking down the aisle and there are cell phones in the air, iPads out in the aisle and again, guests standing in front of me.
- If a guest photographer is using a flash, there is nothing that can be done to save the image I take. The type of camera does not matter- the flash from it is almost always way too bright to work with once it goes off.
- I usually do not mind when guests are there taking photos of the family portraits and bridal party behind me however at this time on the wedding day, I need to get those portraits done fast. Eyes tend to wander around to anyone and everyone who is not me when I am the one setting up the shot. Sometimes guests will be standing a little in front of me, but close enough to me where they are in the frame and I’ve had to ask them to move for me explaining that they are in the photo.
My #1 priority the day of the wedding is on my Ali B Bride and Ali B Groom. I pour my heart into the quality of the portraits, and if there is a lot of people chatting behind me, it can slow down the timeline a bit. A tip for you is have your guests go directly to cocktail hour, put their camera down and enjoy the party. I will take care of the portraits of the special people in your life and then they can take all the photos they want after that.
HOW DO YOU ASK YOUR GUESTS TO PUT THEIR PHONES AND CAMERAS DOWN?
At one wedding, prior to the ceremony, the officiant read this: “Welcome, friends and family! Good evening, everyone. Please be seated. Michael and Kelly invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. Ali B Photography is here and she will capture amazing photos how this moment looks and I am sure she will share them with you— I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology.” The guests all obeyed, and even after the ceremony, many decided to keep their arms down and their hearts open and enjoyed the day, instead of being an observer from behind their cameras.
You can also add a sign to your ceremony entrance or a note on your invitations or program!
Where to purchase a sign: