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.

Facebook comments:

comments

Comments

  1. […] 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 […]

  2. MDN BERGENE says:

    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.

  3. […] 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 […]

  4. […] though we worry it could unequivocally simply turn a daze and interruption to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

  5. […] though we worry it could unequivocally simply turn a daze and interruption to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

  6. […] turn a daze and interruption to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

  7. […] though we worry it could unequivocally simply turn a daze and interruption to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

  8. […] but I worry it could very easily become a distraction and hindrance to all involved,” wedding photographer Corey Ann […]

  9. […] 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. […]

  10. kathy says:

    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.

  11. […] Corey Talks • Why You Should Have an Unplugged Wedding […]

  12. […] my unplugged wedding blog is on the wedding blog Lover.ly.  Check it […]

  13. […] 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 […]

  14. […] 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 […]

  15. […] 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 […]

  16. […] 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. http://coreyann.com/blog/corey-talks/corey-talks-why-you-should-have-an-unplugged-wedding […]

Share on FacebookTweet this PostPin Images to PinterestBack to Top