Corey Talks • Why You Should Have an Unplugged Wedding

In the past I’ve blogged about being a photo friendly guest and also about guest photographers but I felt that this needed to be expanded upon a bit more… and of course I have some images to show to support why I think it’s best when the guests put their cameras down.

Last year one of my friends got married and I was so thrilled to be her photographer that day.  What was even more amazing was that she had an “Unplugged Wedding” after seeing pictures and reading my rants over the years about well-meaning guests whom have inadvertently (or heck, even completely on purpose) ruined images.  Prior to the ceremony, the officiant read this, “Welcome, friends and family! Good evening everyone. Please be seated. Dan and Jennifer invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology. If Dan can do it, then so can you.”  I can’t tell you how many happy leaps of joy my heart did when reading this!!!  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.

Recently “Guest Photographers” came up in one of the photography groups I am apart of online and someone asked what the big deal is, why wouldn’t we want more people capturing images for our clients?  I thought this was a great question!  I don’t have a single problem with guests taking images and sharing them later on with the couple.  It makes me happy to know there will be other pictures and photos of moments I may have missed or alternate angles that I couldn’t cover.  I also completely understand that some have a love for capturing images and enjoy taking pictures at weddings they are guests at.  However, my heart literally 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 slays me when this happens because while I am not remotely egotistical at all, I am fairly confident that my image would have been better than the one they captured.  In the past 6 years of being a professional wedding photographer, it’s also 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.  These are all reasons why I am elated when I hear of couples opting for an Unplugged Wedding – or at the very least an Unplugged Ceremony.

I also want to add this: if you are a guest at the wedding, please make sure to withhold posting pictures of the Bride & Groom online until AFTER the ceremony.  I can’t tell you how many “first looks” have inadvertently happened online before the wedding because a bridesmaid or groomsman have uploaded pictures to social media before the wedding and a Bride and/or Groom who were killing time by browsing Facebook saw their future intended before the ceremony.  Don’t do it!!!!!  Also make sure with the couple that it is OK to share the images on social media, sometimes people prefer to keep things quiet due to varying factors and you don’t want to cause undue stress.


guest flash ruining wedding ceremony picture

One thing there is absolutely NOTHING I can do to combat is a flash from a guest photographer’s camera.  There is rarely anything that will save the image and no repositioning will change the outcome.

guest flash ruining picture during processional during wedding

These are just two of the hundreds of images of the wedding processional that I’ve had ruined from a camera flash.

I also rarely, if ever, use flash for the ceremony so the light you see here is ALL from the one camera’s flash.

guest using nintendo ds to take pictures during wedding ceremony

This girl’s father literally shoved me aside and gave me grief because I was blocking his daughter from standing in the aisle to get an image.  This sanctuary only had one aisle and very little room to move due to a small space being full with guests.  I took this image to protect myself later in case the clients were upset that I had to stand slightly off center for a portion of their day.  Also?  The Nintendo DS made the LOUDEST noises when it took pictures.  It was crazy.

Since this image was taken 4 years ago the DS’s have been replaced with iPad, which are a million times worse when it comes to eyesores.

child using an iphone to take pictures during a wedding ceremony

This kid’s Dad yelled at my second shooter during a wedding and shoved his kid up in front to make sure he got an image with his iPhone during a destination wedding in Cozumel.  Note, he wasn’t a guest of the wedding, just a guest of the resort.

guest standing in the aisle to take pictures during wedding ceremony

This whole situation literally broke my heart.  In many churches, photographers are HEAVILY restricted as to where they can go for images and the Heinz Chapel is perhaps one of the strictest I’ve ever worked at.  We are only allowed to be outside of the sanctuary in the door opening where the center aisle is and in the balcony.  We are not permitted to move during the service.  My second shooter thankfully was in the balcony but it didn’t make these guests go away but luckily he was able to get images of the service where you could SEE the bride and groom.  I argued, begged and pleaded for the church lady guarding me to at least allow me to go into the side aisle so I could get a clear shot of my clients when these guests jumped into the aisle but I was not allowed.  Instead I just had to take what I could get and cry a bit on the inside.

guest standing in aisle to take a picture during wedding ceremony in cleveland

Another image of a guest who jumped in front of me during a ceremony where I could not move to get around him.

guest flash ruining professional wedding picture

The flashes don’t quit for the service either and with the white dress there isn’t a lot I can do to save these images.

guest standing in front of photographer during wedding ceremony

This almost made me cry.  Not kidding.

I had my eye on this gentleman since he was standing up on the altar with the bride and groom during the service but I was able to zoom and crop around the couple so that he wasn’t in too many of the images.  Then after the pronouncement of the couple and he swiftly moved and stood RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME during the first kiss.  I jumped quickly to the side but I missed the quick kiss and luckily still was able to capture the hug after but I still am SO SAD that I missed their first kiss.  I sure hope he got it…

I also felt doubly awful because I had to jump in front of guests view of the couple and during a ceremony my goal is to never block a guests view.  I apologized profusely after the wedding and thankfully they all were very sweet and understanding.

guest flash during wedding ceremony

While this image wasn’t completely blown out, the shadows are bothersome from a guest’s flash.

guest in aisle during wedding ceremony

Back to the Heinz Chapel and as you can see, the guest did not move for the majority of the ceremony.  I’m still sad when I look at this image.

guest flash during wedding ceremony

It doesn’t matter what kind of camera – how big or how small – the flash is almost always too bright to work with once it is fired.

guest standing in aisle to take a picture during wedding ceremony

Standing in the aisle always makes me sad because your attention immediately will go to that person and not on the subject of the image.

guest flash during formal portrait of family during wedding

I really cringe when guests try to take pictures during formals because not only am I generally under a time crunch but the flashes ruin at least one or two shots for each batch I take.  Eyes also tend to wander and rarely do I get everyone looking at me at the same time when there are multiple cameras present.  This is the only time that I will sometimes tell guests that they have to stop taking pictures and I have been told off more times than not when I’ve had to do this.  However my priority the day of the wedding is on my clients.  I don’t care about the sale of the portraits but I do care about the quality of the portraits and if there is a circus going on behind me it rarely ends well for everyone involved.  So, trust me when I beg and plead for you to tell people to put their cameras down and go enjoy the cocktail hour while we take some portraits with the special people in your life.

guest during first dance

The reception generally is a time when I can quickly move if a guest decides to take pictures but when I can’t move around it?  The special dances.  Although I have to say, this little old guy does warm my heart a bit.  He was pretty cute with his disposable camera even if it was a bit distracting with the winding.

guest during first dance

Another guest deciding the first dance is a great time for that portrait of the bride and groom.

guest during father daughter dance

This is another one that makes me a sad panda when I look at it.  This guest came up at the last bit of the Father/Daughter dance and there was no where I could go to get her out of the picture.  Luckily I have numerous beautiful images from the dance but the last hug is always my favorite.

guest red focus beam

Another pet peeve of guest cameras during the wedding?  THE RED (OR GREEN) DOT OF DOOM!  These focusing beams are quite irritating because again, there’s not a lot that I can do to get rid of it outside of turning the image black and white (which still will leave a light circle).  There’s quite a few images that I’ve had to toss due to these beams, this is just one of the many.

Bottom line:  my priority the day of the wedding is on my clients.  They have paid me their hard-earned money to make sure I document their wedding and when an overzealous guest gets in the way, it makes me sad.  I think often people don’t realize what they are doing and my writing this post was in hoping to educate even a few people that will take this advice and either have an unplugged wedding or think of the professional before jumping in the aisle for that shot.

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liz Haeberlin - GREAT post! I hope this starts a new trend of “unplugged weddings!” I’d also like to blog about this with a link to your post. My blog is

Jen Parke - I LOVE this post! The pictures are wonderful! I hope that brides/grooms and wedding guests are listening!

The Proper Setting - Thanks for this completely honest review of ruined images by wedding guests interfering with paid photographers. Most are done innocently without knowing the consequences, but great advice!

Platinum Party Planning - WOW! I cannot tell you how many times, as a wedding planner, I have had to ask guests to step aside so the photographer can get the photos for the bride and groom’s wedding album. Thank you for posting this!

Miss Darcy Photography - Thank you so much for this post Corey! I’ve posted the link on my FB page because it says it so well! My upcoming clients are also thanking you in advance because it’s so well put and persuasive! Again thank you! Keep up the awesome work!

craig John - THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! For putting this post together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to fight my way through guests jumping into the aisle to get a shot of the bride and groom during the recessional. And if it wasn’t bad enough people were using DSLRs, point and shoots, and phone cameras… they’re using GIANT iPADS! to take photos, which can entirely shield the bride and/or groom.

Maybe this is proof positive that everyone is LONGING to be a wedding photographer. LOL

Great post, Corey. :)


Scott and Kristin - WOW, great article, finally a photographer who took the time to create a well defined blog post about the troubles we all endure at weddings. :-) Thank you

Emma Lawson - wise words indeed

Brilliant Weddings & Design - Lovely, yet straight to the point blog from a professional wedding photographer, explaining why guests should leave the photography to the professional and enjoy the event camera/phone-free.

Jete Devisser - This is a fantastic post!! I shared it on my Facebook page to show couples the benefit of an unplugged wedding. Loved all the photos. Thank you!

Daniel Venter - I’m not sure if this is just luck of the draw but after 80+ weddings none of the above has ever been an issue for me. Get into the right position from the start and this won’t happen. E.G down the isle. You start in front of the Bride and father and back yourself down the isle people will know you are doing your job and 9/10 times dont step in the way. The reverse works when you’re coming from the alter. If you start shooting from the back people won’t see you and they’ll step in front of you and all sorts will happen!

Linda - Thanks for sharing this info. I don’t mind guest taking photos, but I hate when guests get in the way of me taking the professional photos. When I got married, it was an unplugged ceremony (including no photos of the ceremony) due to religious restrictions, but I will always have those happy memories of the ceremony in my heart. I do not need a bunch of amateur photos taken for me to remember the beauty of it.

Rachelle - Thank you so much for sharing this! My wedding is coming up in a few months and this has been a concern of mine.

Ryan Parker - Are you serious ?
Maybe you should use the burst mode to avoid capturing moments when others are flashing/red dotting. If my friends or family wants to take pictures, they can..I have no problem with it. They at least share the pics in a day or two unlike you guys who take 3-5 weeks. As a customer, I pay you to take pictures. You have to find ways around problems by moving closer or climbing a ladder or get creative. Move Heaven and Earth to get a great shot; the day is not about you or your photography skills, it’s about the bride, groom , family, friends. Its a constantly changing environment, you can either politely ask the guests to move out of the frame or patiently wait until they are gone.

“Dont Complain, just work harder” – Randy Pausch

Shelbie - I think you did a fantastic job with the conditions your had to deal with, besides that you expressed how every other photographer feels during these wedding situations. It can be frustrating when people are so inconsiderate/forgetful about who’s day it is.

Anyways thank you :)

P.s. I thought I would let you know,
“Standing in the aisle always males(Spelling error) me sad because your attention immediately will go to that person and not on the subject of the image.”- Oh and I agree with this as well.

Good luck on the next wedding you do!

Brooke Price Photography - It’s not that we ( the photographers) are trying to be rude, or make sure you can Only get photos from us to make more $$$ (<– oh yeah, had that little gem thrown my way) It is simply that, you have already hired us to do a job, and we’re dead set to make that happen. But some things are unavoidable. And that is sad. You’re guests aren’t snapping to be rude, they are excited to share in your day too, we just run into some speed bumps along the way.

Tom Cahill - Every wedding photographer should show this to their clients.

Amanda Dennie - Thank you for posting this! I honestly don’t think the most of people realize what they’re doing. I recently had to deal with an uncle Bob this past weekend. Jumped in front of the groom making his entrance and due to the seating arrangement (it was really weird), I had no where else to go at the time. Not that it would have mattered. Uncle Bob was in their face the whole time. And then as the wedding party was leaving, he jumped in front of me several times, so I have a couple of shots where the bridesmaid and groomsman aren’t looking at me, they’re looking at HIM! I wanted to scream “LOOK AT ME!”. Ok, end rant.

Catherine - It’s one thing to explain it…but for people to SEE it…this is AWESOME!

Patrick - I’m curious how you are catching so many of the guest’s flashes? Are you dragging your shutter to really long lengths that allow more time to catch their flash? If your shutter is around 1/250 – 1/20th of a second then there is such a small chance of you taking a photo at the exact time a flash goes off.

Having shot over 200 weddings myself, I don’t know that I’ve ever catch a guest’s flash during a key moment. The times I have caught a flash it’s been a throw away image or in a few cases it has come out really cool.

It’s def annoying when guests stand in front of you though. The best way to combat this is to use at least 1 second shooter who is getting a completely different angle. That can save you in the event that you miss the first kiss or someone stands in front of your way.

Corey Ann - Generally I shoot ceremonies around 1/125 or so due to the lighting (unless I’m outside), these are just a few examples over the many years I’ve shot weddings. I’ve had some really strange results too, I just didn’t post them. I’ve been saving these images in a folder for years and finally brought them out. I definitely shoot more than one image and the clients still had everything covered (save for the first kiss) by alternate images that I took that weren’t ruined.

I don’t always work with a second shooter but often due to church restrictions (which is when I have the issues) having a second shooter really won’t help combat the issue. Especially when they are in the main aisle during the “key” moments that clients tend to want the “traditional” shot of.

Corey Ann - Thank you! The bottom line is that clients paid good money for these images and it makes me sad when guests think they are the pro and get all crazy town during the ceremony. MOST of the time I can shoot around it and do but sometimes there’s not much we can do to avoid the guest.

My favorite may be the uncle that brought a ladder and set it up in the aisle. I shot around him but that was a curveball I didn’t expect!

Corey Ann - I don’t shoot in burst mode but I do have a quick camera and still generally get the shot. The images here are throwaways I saved from 6 years in the business.

My clients have their images to them within 3-5 days generally. I also still haven’t seen hundreds of images from my wedding – and I’m sure many clients have the same issue. Just because a guest took the image doesn’t mean it’s more likely to get into their hands.

I do not bring a ladder because that is just asking for a lawsuit and it is also crazy obtrusive to a wedding. As is asking a guest to move out of the aisle once the service has started. I try to be as unobtrusive as possible during a service because this is a time of worship and to focus on the love that brought two people together.

My bottom line goal is to make sure my clients have the best images from their day but it isn’t at the expense of their wedding.

Tyler Ingram - I always have tried to stay out of the way of a photographer during a wedding. ie I check to see where they are before I try and take a photo. I also try and bring something that will work in low-light without a flash or focus-assist beam (such as bring the 50mm 1.8 and shoot with a higher ISO).

I can totally see how this can happen during a wedding but I do like how you have shared your images of what happens when people are their with their cameras etc.

The last wedding we attended, they told people to refrain from using the flashes on their cameras/phones etc.

Patrick - My thought on Church restrictions is this: While it is my job to capture as many great images as possible, I don’t particularly need any images for my own use. Sometimes Churches have strict rules like only photography from outside the closed window doors, or only photography from this specific spot in the balcony, or sometimes even no photography during the ceremony at all. In my mind, my clients have to respect those wishes and I’m not going to break the churches rules either. I simply try to capture what I can and capture it as it happens. If a little flower girl stands in the isle or a guest is in the isle the whole time, well then that’s the photo my clients get. Obviously it’s not as “picture perfect” as they probably would have wished but it’s also the way it happened. I’ve had catholic ceremonies that are over 45 mins long and they do not allow photography at all….so I just sit in the back and play on my phone for 45 mins. I’m not going to break the church’s rules.

That being said, it is kind of frustrating when the church says no photography, or no flash photography and then the guests are able to break those rules without punishment while I have to sit with my camera on my lap. Again, it’s not really my problem and the clients should know that choosing that church has photography consequences.

On another note, this article was brought to my attention by our Fstoppers writers. Would it be okay for us to summarize this article and link back to your full story? I think a lot of people would find this topic interesting.

Twain Newhart - I had to snicker at some of this. Sad yet true that the guests will get in the way from time to time. Luckily I have only had a few bad moments. I document them and then show them to the couple afterwards. The restrictions on the churches is a tough one. Thank you so much for blogging about this. I hope all wedding planners read this.

Keesha - SHARED!!! Very well written!

Be a Guest Not a Photographer ;-) » Bella Photography Fife - [...] I just read the most fantastic article on Wedding Photography and Guests being unplugged ( [...]

Jean Chartrand - Well for me you are too polite. I have no issues telling guests to get out of the way and out of my shot in a polite and assertive way. There is no way I would let someone position themselves in an aisle for a period of time to block me. As for when you are doing the formals I usually never let anybody else shoot my setups why should my composition skills be used for their images. We have a section in our wedding contract that states that no guest or other photographer can hinder us while we are working and if we are, we will let the couple know and they will need to ask them to stop and if the person does not stop we cannot be held responsible for any missed shots.
I think a lot of photographers are afraid to confront these people, we are hired by these couples to capture one the most special days in their life and we need to provide them with the best images we can deliver to them so if that means telling the “friend photographer” to get out of the way or don’t shoot while I’m shooting I have no issues because if I was the bride and groom and you missed my first kiss picture I would be pissed at you and not my friend that got in your way. Just my 2 cents from a photographer with 33 years of experience.

Lydia - Now I don’t feel like such a jerk for all the times I’ve pushed my husband out of a photographers way.

Ashley Durham Photography - Fabulous article, and great pictures (well, err … You know what I mean, haha). Dealing with Uncle Bob and intrusive wedding guests is part of the wedding gig, I am definitely going to talk to my future brides and grooms about it and show them this article.

Kimberly Hudson - WOW! Totally makes me think twice about taking a camera to a wedding and also about asking for a camera free ceremony for my own wedding!

Celebrations of Tampa Bay - A big Amen! to that. Finally someone said, what all of us professionals have been afraid to say!

Ashlee Hamon - Thank you! It baffles me just how rude and oblivious people are! I hope everyone ever sees this and Rembrandt it the next time they are a guest.

Will Koeppen - Right on, of course. Though I can see why it happens, and the common wedding photography model contributes heavily to people wanting to take their own photos. A) People want to share something immediately, and that’s not a bad thing. B ) Most guests don’t want to have to buy photos from a photographer to have a visual memento of the wedding. C) Many people have a desire to capture those moments as they experienced them (though sadly they will probably never look at those photos again). Both A and B could be supported in part by small changes to the way that professional wedding photographers do business.

Allen Arrick - My favorite thing that happens ALL THE TIME at weddings: We have 10 minutes to take 20 different family groups before the sun sets(many of which include family members who are already at the open bar), all while 3 people behind you take photos, adding in their flash and distracting eyes. The moment you ask for people to kindly hurry or stop taking photos, it’s “OMG that photographer was a DICK.”

“Unplugged Weddings”: Preventing Guests From Destroying Your Photographs | Fstoppers - [...] You can see many examples of failed photographs caused by guests overstepping their boundaries on Corey’s full Unplugged Weddings Blog Post. As a wedding photographer myself, I can attest that there have been times when “Uncle Canon Charlie” has not only become an annoyance at my own weddings, but he has also been responsible for me deleting images that would have been album worthy. I guess dodging guests who intrude on your hired responsibilities is just something that comes with the territory. [...]

Tomasz Wagner - I approve of this post!

Michelle S Hanks - Your insight is great and from the heart. As I start in this business, I can learn from you guts, the more experienced ones, how to handle these situations. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable.

Guest Photographers or: Why You Should Have an Unplugged Wedding - [...] About the author: Corey Ann is a wedding photographer based in North Canton, Ohio. Visit her website here. This article originally appeared here. [...]

Barbed Wire and Begonias Photography - What a well done post! I love that she has shared so many real photos. Every wedding we see this. I totally understand family and friends wanting to take pictures at the wedding. But it is something that Brides and Grooms and their families need to be aware of. They need to decide who they want to be the “main” photographer during key moments? The guest with the ipad or cell phone or the one they are paying that has the appropriate camera and lens? As wedding photographers we do the best we can to get the shot but I have had my fair share of aggressive guests shove me out of the way and or step in front of me at a key moment. Whatcha going to do?

Carol Corey Creeger - Thank you for posting this review of images. There should be a class for wedding guests to take, well intended but in the end they can really ruin your images.

Stephanie Hammer - This is so important to address!! Thank you for sharing these images and for being so willing to share your feelings and insights. I think that the further we get into technology we will see more and more of this, but education is key. This is such a fantastic article and should be shared everywhere.

Richard Klein - @Ryan Parker: You are a first class clown. You have no idea of what a professional photographer goes through to create memorable images. I have shot nearly 1900 weddings in my career. I have dealt with almost all situations that can occur, including many mentioned in these posts. I have had people jump in front of me in the aisle in church, fire off during my altar formals, and outdoor portraits, and all the rest. I have seen uncountable cell phones, I-Pads, and other devices used to capture events that I am shooting. Your suggestions as to overcoming these obstacles are ludicrous. But I will say that in all my years as a pro, dating back to the days of the cavemen, I only invoked my wedding contract’s exclusive photographer clause only once. I had to tell one guest that either stopped getting in my way or I was packing up and leaving. He was rather irate but when I began to put my gear into a case, he stopped and I finished the job. Rest assured the bride and groom and their families were told of this and I shot a candid of him getting in my way that they saw. I am hired because I deal with these distractions in my own way. I get the shots I need to get, and have no fears of telling interlopers to move, stop, or otherwise stay out of my way. I am paid good money to document a wedding and refuse to let the amateurs get in my way under any circumstances. But if you wanted to hire me to do your wedding, there would be 2 chances: slim and none, and Slim just left town.

Armma - Your post makes a good point; I’m probably guilty of this occasionally myself, though I’ve never been so rude as to step into the aisle or use a flash. Part of it is that, as guests, we also want a record of the events. Rarely are the wedding photographer’s shots shared with the guests (beyond maybe a few on Facebook), either because the newlyweds don’t want to go to the trouble or because the wedding photography does not allow it (at least that’s getting rare these days). I bet an announcement that “All photos will be shared on Facebook/Flickr/etc” would quell a lot of the overzealous guest photography.

On the flip side, an intrusive wedding photographer can ruin it for everyone, too. I’m glad you’re very careful to avoid that, because some are not: The last wedding I went to was an Indian wedding, where most of the ceremony took place inside a mandap (essentially a gazebo). The two photographers and a videographer spent the entire wedding right in the middle of the aisle and the other mandap openings, blocking the view for just about all the guests. We spent most of the wedding watching photographers shuffle their read ends around (see and Disappointing, to say the least, but I’m sure they got great photos…

Chicago Wedding DJ - I think this is a brilliant idea. I can’t tell you how many moments that would have made for amazing pictures I’ve seen ruined by guests walking right in front of the professional photographer at the exact wrong moment.

Craver-Vii - Brilliant post! I admire your skill in the photos you picked as keepers, but I absolutely love how you’ve redeemed the throwaways by compiling these frustrations in a somewhat light and humorous manner. I’m a hobbyist that gets referrals when people can’t afford a true professional. Most of the time, I successfully talk people into hiring a pro, and this is partially due to my desire to keep photographing for fun, and there’s sometimes stuff like this that make a wedding shoot less-than-fun for me. I probably would like being a pro’s assistant, but I feel like I’m not ready yet to bear the full responsibility. Again, you have my respect and admiration for what you do and how well you do it!

Nicholas Scott - I suppose it is better to mention up front to the guests that they need not take pictures than me stopping the minister mid ceremony so I can go tell them to get out of the aisle. I think we’ll take that suggestion to heart.

If I am paying for a professional photographer clearly I am trusting their work so nobody needs to get in their way. The only people with freer reign at my wedding will be the bride and me.

dav.d - Amen! People can put their phones/cameras down and live in the moment! This should also apply to concerts, musicals, restaurants, bar/bat mitzvahs.

Samantha Renee - Great article! It’s sad to see the ruined shots. As a wedding planner, I sometimes have to get really assertive and tell people to MOVE!

Joyce Isellessentialbodyoils Hudson - I shot a wedding in April that had me irritated, at one point. There was a guest taking flash pix with her cell phone at the same time That I was taking them of the bridesmaids coming down the aisle. Her flash ruined EVERY one of those shots… UGH!

Greg Thompson - Sad? Wrong word. For me this would be absolutely INFURIATING! And yes I think every wedding should be unplugged – it’s a great idea to get back to the roots of what makes attending an event in person enjoyable. If everyone is living through the lens on their phone while AT the event, then is anyone truly there at all?

Sabina Lorkin - Thank you for your post. It wonderfully illustrates the problems encountered with enthusiastic amateurs who think that they are helping the married couples. Thank you for sharing your ‘ruined’ photos :-)

Guest Photographers: Why They Should be “Unplugged” | music city events - [...] About the author: Corey Ann is a wedding photographer based in North Canton, Ohio. Visit her website here. This article originally appeared here. [...]

Smallwood Photo Class » Wedding Photo Probs - [...] These are the problems a wedding photographer must endure. [...]

John Smallwood - Just shared your article with my high school photography students. Thank you very much, well done.

Noticias breves de la semana (20) - ALTFoto - [...] habla de los invitados molestos de las bodas. Flashes, luces de enfoque y familiares entrometidos arruinan cualquier [...]

Getting Married: 2 Weeks – I Don’t Even Know | Xapa to the World - [...] the failed photos before. There are some truly heartbreaking photos on this blog. Go check it out here. Ok, here’s one example from the [...]

Marc - Great article. Found it on petapixel today.
Lovely ruined pictures!

john - Everyone is a professional wedding photographer… didn’t you get the memo?

Nicole Roche Nichols - As a photographer trying to document this sacred time in people’s lives the worse for me is when the parents in the front row or fiddling with their cameras instead of paying attention to what is going on right in front of them. Isn’t taking pictures what they hired me for? I’ve also been saving a collection of ruined shots by guests jumping up and getting in the way and am planning to do this same type of write up, but glad you beat me to it, it needed to be out there! Thanks for putting this together.

SHAWN BAZIL - I can relate yo this article, sinc I experience all if what you wrote just teo months ago, I took 299 immages and had to destroy anout 66, from the renainder I was forced to turn anout 20 into black and white, the good new is the couple was please but had they known how many awsome shots had to go , it might have been a different outcomes.

first pearl jam, now your wedding - [...] probably been two years since I first read a blog post about unplugged weddings. Most recently, this one from Corey Ann photography crossed my path. Even as a fully-wired child of the internet, I [...]

Sandra Ace - I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I feel like a failure if I don’t get the shot because of guests getting their shots. It is really heartbreaking

Wetgeving fotografie => Communie, optreden, .... van eigen kinderen - Pagina 2 - [...] zie hier.…lugged-wedding BD2361BE Nikon D90 + grip – Nikkor 18/105 3.5-5.6 VR – Nikkor 70/200 2.8 VR – Nikkor 28/70 2.8D [...]

Paul Stakvik - Thank you for your post. It´s really a heartbreak to read and see the pictures.. This post will be a reference for future photo, not just wedding.

Thank you, again. Paul in Norway.

A Wedding In Galveston–Thoughts And Hindsight | rebeccalatsonphotography - [...] issues about that with this wedding.  So, why am I even mentioning this? Awhile back, I read a  blog post about a professional wedding photographer who had a number of  key shots ruined because the guests [...]

An "Unplugged Wedding" - Emily Weddings - [...] some time to read the full article and also see some of the photos taken by this photographer that were ruined by guest [...]

Alan Chin - I absolutely agree with how annoying this is, but, echoing some of your other commenters, a word of advice here: Ever wonder how 35 photographers cover Obama (or whoever), one on top of each other, all with 28mm lenses, and yet there’s hardly ever a photographer in the frame? It’s a ballet. Dance around the other photographers. Be aggressive, but also frame better. Be on your knees in front of the standing guy. Shoot through elbows and legs…that can help framing too. Don’t use your long lenses…I see that you’re overly reliant on them. You need too much room for them, that’s why you’re getting into these issues. Your 35mm, 28mm, 24mm, 21mm will do the job better. I only use a 100mm for close-ups during the ceremony, and only a few frames of faces and rings at that. And if venue rules or staff are too restrictive, ignore them. Ever see how we fight with the Secret Service and the police for access? Chances are, we’ve already gotten the shot. If you’re quietly aggressive, even against the “rules”, most people will not confront you. Don’t be shy about delicately, but firmly, moving guests out of your way too. They understand that and will usually cooperate once they’ve been made aware. It’s a great idea to not have to deal with any of this as you say, “unplugged”, but if you have to, it’s not the end of the world. It never bothers me, because I’ve learned how to move and yet seem almost invisible. Believe me, it becomes second nature and after a certain point, no crowd of cell-phone-cameras bothers you any more. I’ve shot probably close to a hundred weddings over the last 10 years this way.

Reading this week | 17th Street BBQ - [...] someone whose event photos have been compromised by multiple “photographers,” I found this to be dead on and kind of sad. Let’s all try to be more courteous and let event [...]

Tom Hall Photography - This might seem harsh, but I’m gobsmacked!

I can’t believe you’ve actually posted this blog! How do you think prospective clients will react to seeing that you can’t seem to adjust to the fact that weddings involve guests and that guests take their own cameras?

I know one thing is for sure; if I was looking for a photographer and saw that that they had such a problem with their client’s guests, I certainly wouldn’t book them.

I agree with so many of the photographers below who say they’ve shot copious weddings and never run into this issue. If you know what you’re doing, it never becomes a problem. For those of you who somehow keep snagging other people’s flash bursts, go back and learn a little bit more about photography.

If you’re a professional you should be completely capable of adapting! If you’re not, then you’ll most probably post blogs like this and publicly draw attention to the fact that you can’t cope with the ever changing and unpredictable environment a wedding creates!

Sheesh, that’s just one of the many reasons shooting a wedding is so damn fun! Embrace it – don’t publicly moan about it! You may’ve create a buzz around your brand, but in my opinion; for all the wrong reasons!

Quoted in the New York Times » Corey Ann Photography - [...] me were so useful when they were planning their wedding.  A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog about Unplugged Weddings and that got a lot of peoples attention for some reason – I’m guessing because [...]

Joe - You used the word ‘literally’ three times in this article, and got its meaning wrong twice. Other than that, nice piece.

NEWS! SUPER-/HYPERSYNC – AUCH MIT SYSTEMBLITZEN | - [...] Corey Ann: Eine Hochzeit könnte so schön sein, wenn denn nur die anderen Gäste nicht wären. Man leidet richtig mit ihr mit, witzig: [...]

Mike Togle - Thanks for posting this, Corey. If you don’t mind, I’ll write about your blog post in our website and just add a few of our own pet peeves about “plugged” weddings.

Sheila Juan Catilo - We have a lot of churches here in the Philippines too that have very strict rules regarding where photographers are allowed to shoot from and which parts of the ceremony we’re supposed to minimize our movement. We understand and respect that rule because it applies to EVERYONE – both official photographer and guests with cameras. What bothers me is why the church you mentioned specifically restricts the photographers and not guests from blocking the view of the altar. Someone should tell them to seriously reconsider that rule.

Jean - Thank you for sharing such a heartbreaking phenomenon. I’m sure once everyone has seen this or a similar post detailing the disadvantages of having too many guests wanting to capture the moment in their own gadgets then we will gradually develop a more conscious atmosphere.

I think I’ll be implementing the same rules on my day!!!!


Wedding Details – Ceremony | Xapa to the World - [...] At the bottom, there is some text that I think was very helpful. It says, “Please do not use any flash photography during the ceremony. Be respectful of our hired photographers. Also, please put your phones on silent. Thank you!” We commissioned everyone at the rehearsal to mention it to guests. I had originally planned to have some sort of verbiage like this, but that was only strengthened after reading this. [...]

Wedding Party App | Our Geek Unity - [...] We do ask that you refrain from taking photos during the ceremony, we are going to have an amazing photographer to do that for us. Feel free to take social and candid photos throughout the reception though, we want as many photos of all our friends and family but we don’t want anything like this to happen. [...]

K - Great article! Can you add a Pinterest button to link to this specific post? I clicked the Pinterest button on the top of your page but it took me to your profile, not to pin this. I would love to save and share it with my friends!

Honey Bee Weddings - Thank you for this wonderful post. I am linking it in my blog post today!

Yvonne Donaldson - That’s the one area I wish we had spent more money. Our photographer was a joke. He missed key moments and was terrible at placement and posing. I have pictures that people took at the reception showing him sitting at a table with his assistant, just sitting there. My friends said he sat there for the longest time. It’s not like we had a six hour event and he needed a rest. It was a simple ceremony with a modest reception. The whole event took 2, maybe 3, hours. I’ve never shown anyone any of the pictures he took. The video they shot sounds like he’s chewing aluminum foil behind the lens. I am extremely grateful for the pictures my friends and family took.

Smartphones at Weddings: Potential Distraction! | Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG - [...] Article: 7 Ways To Ruin A Wedding With Your Smartphone Guest Photographers or: Why You Should Have an Unplugged Wedding Wedding Photos: When Snap-happy Guests Go too [...]

Brenda K Patton Campbell - This is awesome article I hope you do not mind if I repost this on my site.

Samantha - love this. I’m not a professional but I want to go to school for it one day. but I do better pictures then other people can’t stand when I’m in the wedding or my kids parties and I let somebody else do my photos and they turn out all messed up. and when people stand right in front of u or walk through ur shot. so going to do this at my wedding and make sure everyone knows the photographers are so they don’t block shots. I will be bridezilla on my day.

Karen Gaither - I wonder if some of the wedding/bridal magazines would print stuff about these problems in their publications? Or online sites for brides. There’s got to be a way to get this info OUT THERE to let the couple and their parents know what’s going on and what the couple needs help with. If you hand out a printed wedding guilde then put it in there. We have got to get the help of the couple and the wedding coordinator by any means possible.

Paul Koziorowski - Thank you for writing this article. I couldn’t agree more with you and will certainly implement a lot of this when I meet with my couples and explain this to them. Thank you again!

An “Unplugged” Wedding – A Photographer’s Point of View of Guest Photography | The Perfect DIY Wedding - […] I came across this really fantastic article written by photographer Corey Ann, discussing the etiquette for an “Unplugged Wedding” […]

Should you “Unplug” your wedding? | Michelle's Bridal and Tuxedo - […] have been made by professional photographers like Corey Ann Photography of North Canton, Ohio to have an “unplugged” wedding. Corey Ann addresses the issue in […]

Ashley WaltersPhotography - I myself have ran into these problems with weddings I have done. So to all my soon to be brides out there, please, please, PLEASE read this and consider having an unplugged wedding.

Mike Puhrmann - Great article! Makes me thankful that we had our wedding before digital photography became so ubiquitous

Why You Should Have An Unplugged Wedding | And After the Storm - […] Why You Should Have An Unplugged Wedding […]

Dear DJ AJ9: Should I Have an Unplugged Wedding? | Something New Entertainment - […]  Corey photographs weddings in Northeast Ohio and beyond through Corey Ann Photography, and she recently published a blog on the topic that attracted about 150,000 views in just two weeks. A typical blog post of hers, she told us, […]

Tiffany - This is a good read. Really love it. And everything is so true.

The Online Bride: Weddings in the Information Age | Wedding photo swap - […] photographer to capture your wedding day and with this in mind it would be worth reading this blog post by my friend Corey Ann over in the US for an excellent and well written counter argument. For what […]

Taking Too Many Photos Is Affecting Our Memories - […] set of comments – that obsessively documenting events ruins them. Been to a concert lately? How about a wedding? I’m a photographer and have worked many a wedding. Do you know what is ruining wedding […]

MDN BERGENE - As a friend or relative that has been asked to bring my camera and be the secondary photographer with the photographers permission, I have in 15 years three times been the only one who actually got photos to the bride and groom. All of the “pros” had been pre paid and recommended. Once the guy just disappeared BBB said he went bankrupt, 2nd time before digital thepros film did not advance for the ceremony! Third time the photographer had no clue how to pose people, beautiful outdoor setting flower garden….. “Please have everyone line up in front of this brick wall with signs and light on it”. The bride asked me to take over after 6 of those were taken, Mostly I try talk to the photographer and ask them to let me know if I’m in the way also to let them know I’m really trying noy to intrude. I have never had a problem, by being observant … When their camera is down I take mine. I also take photos of taking photos. It is an important part of the story of the day. I watch the photographer and what they are prepping for and get out of their way. I agree almost everyone should enjoy the wedding and view the photos from the pro later. Also most photographers are now providing couples with DVDs of their photos. B&G are paying for the expertise behind the camera and in the actual editing not the printing process.

Leaving the Camera at Home » On the Boardwalk with Beach Camera - […] be an especial problem at weddings (amateur photographers committing all kinds of faux pas caused this article to be written. Read it. Some of the guest photographer’s behaviors are beyond […]

Live-tweet your wedding for ,000 - X-Post - […] though we worry it could unequivocally simply turn a daze and interruption to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

Live-tweet your wedding for ,000 - […] though we worry it could unequivocally simply turn a daze and interruption to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

Live-tweet your wedding for ,000 - The Peoples 411 : The Peoples 411 - […] turn a daze and interruption to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

Lovely wedding, but did it trend on Twitter? - […] though we worry it could unequivocally simply turn a daze and interruption to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

Live-tweet your wedding for ,000 | Times of News | Online breaking and Latest News From NIGERIA - […] but I worry it could very easily become a distraction and hindrance to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

Hashtags vs Unplugged: The Great Debate | Letterpress & Lace - […] If someone had ruined my first kiss photo like this, there’s a good chance I would have killed them. Or at least stopped being their friend. What’s wrong with people? To get a photographer’s perspective on unplugged weddings, and see more pictures, click here. […]

kathy - I can understand why you would prefer this. I always try to be aware of the photographer and I keep my flash off. people that are so rude as to push out of the way will not follow the rules anyway. request no flash photography. on my side if I don’t take my own pics I don’t have any. I cant afford the cost of professional prints. taking photos helps me focus on the moments . many which I would miss if not trying to capture them on film. ive been at weddings where no flash has been requested and that’s worked out great.

2 weeks to go!!! | Kris & Steffie Gettin' Hitched - […] Corey Talks • Why You Should Have an Unplugged Wedding […]

Featured on » Corey Ann Photography - […] my unplugged wedding blog is on the wedding blog  Check it […]

WHAT IS AN UNPLUGGED WEDDING AND HOW TO DO IT - Chandra Keel Weddings + Events - […] sad, sad photo from Corey Ann Photography has been seen everywhere. I’m so glad that she has shared this photo with the world so that […]

have a great weekend! - Kate Uhry Photo - […] liked this post by a photographer  who speaks to why an “unplugged” wedding is the best (hint […]

Are "unplugged weddings" going to be the future? - Surrey Wedding Photographer - Ben Davies Photographic - […] can see some really great examples of these photos at Corey Ann’s  great blog covering the subject. I think so far I have been much luckier than most with this […]

Wedding day UnPlugged | Donna Eade Photography - […] was inspired by a fellow photographs blog Corey Ann go and take a look at her blog and see the images we all want to avoid on a wedding day and […]

Craig P. Hansen - As a wedding Dj I am adamant about finding the photographer as soon as I arrive at the venue. We go over the timeline and I let them know THAT I DEFER TO THEM. Photographers may only have a split second or a short window to get certain shots. If the first dance is at 6pm but the sunset is perfect at 6 pm… is my job to fill until the shots are taken then we proceed forward. I also invite the guests to enjoy themselves but remind them as politely as I can to keep their non professional behinds in the seat and OUT OF THE WAY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER. Because of this I have really great relationships with the photographers in my area………

Thinking About An Unplugged Wedding? - […] Recently, the idea of “guest photographers” came up in one of the photography groups I am part of online, and someone asked what the big deal is. Why wouldn’t we want more people capturing images for our clients? I thought this was a great question! I don’t have a single problem with guests taking images and sharing them with the couple later. It makes me happy to know there will be other photos of moments I may have missed, or alternate angles that I couldn’t cover. I also completely understand that some have a love for capturing images and enjoy taking pictures at weddings when they are guests. 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. […]

How to Say: “Hey, Wedding Guests: Don’t Take Pictures During My Ceremony!” | Social Weddings R Us - […] you’re well within your rights to ask guests to not take pictures. We’ve discussed how amateur photographers can ruin your wedding pictures by getting in the way of the professionals—plus, if your guests are snapping photos or […]

Helping Your Wedding Photographer Get Great Shots - Everyone's Wedding - […] Unplug your guests and wedding party […]

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