An Open Letter to the Permanently Plugged
I never really got this modern desire to photograph every single thing happening in front of me, which you may find strange coming from a photographer… I often just get so caught up in the moment that I don’t even think about grabbing my phone/camera from my bag. I prefer to enjoy the moment as it unfolds, without distractions, as it won’t happen again. After attending many weddings over the years I realise I’m in the minority though.
It’s during moments like the ceremony that I’m sometimes astounded at the amount of people all wielding phones, ipads (!) etc, all desperately trying to take the same photo. Some of them stepping out into the aisle, blocking the professional photographer (and more importantly the groom’s!) view of the bride entering. Some of them ruining the pro’s capture by using their DSLR’s pop up flash.. A moment that can not be repeated now lost.
(Instead of ‘naming and shaming’ I’m including some images from a few beautiful ‘unplugged weddings’ throughout this post.)
I understand more than anyone the importance of documenting beautiful moments (it’s why I do what I do..) but when it gets to the point where you’re openly frustrated, pushing others to try get a better shot, you need to take a step back and consider what you’re doing.
If the wedding you’re at has a professional photographer – do you really need to also take a photo of the bride as she walks in? Of the vows? The first kiss? Courtesy aside, at the very least it’s highly doubtful your iphone will be taking a better image than a professional camera. Many ceremony venues like registry offices/churches are especially known for having poor light meaning your the images will probably be grainy and blurry. Professional photographers are trained to work in all light environments and carry all the gear needed for this.
The couple have trusted, and likely invested a lot of money, in booking their professional photographer. Your should please respect the couple’s choices and let the pro do their thing. Enjoy watching your loved one walking down the aisle camera free (I know for a fact they would rather see a sea of smiling faces beaming back at them instead of phones.) When the couple share their first married kiss, stand up and applaud them. Be present in the moment. Fully soak up all the joy of the occasion.
I’m not saying it’s never acceptable to take any photos during the day – everyone should share the joy of capturing moments during happy times. Just please pick your moments, think before you act. I always offer an opportunity for guests to take photos when possible, like the signing of the register. Also during some family group portraits where everyone is lined up nicely. Al I ask is you kindly refrain from snapping away behind me, just put down the camera for a second while I get my shot, then they are all yours. The same goes for the cake cutting. The rest of the day will be filled with plenty of opportunities to get your personal snapshots so please don’t worry.
Most photographers these days make it very easy for couples to share their wedding images with guests. I upload them all to an online gallery and send an email with log in details to the couple to forward on. Guests can order prints directly from the gallery, and I allow my couples to share their digital images with friends & family so they have a copy too. I also blog a selection on my own website, post previews on my social media. You’ll see the images and be able to have a keepsake of the day.
This wasn’t meant to come across as a lecture, or to single people out, more just about making people aware – giving them something to consider. If you’re a couple getting married and like the idea of having an ‘unplugged ceremony’ it’s very simple to organise:
- Get your celebrant/minister/etc at the start of the ceremony to ask guests to please not take photos during the ceremony
- Write it on a chalk board/make a pretty sign detailing this as they come in
- Put it on your wedding website, get guests prepared before the day
- Make sure to share the professional photographer’s gallery with everyone as soon as they’re ready
Let’s learn to be more considerate to each other, choose to be present in the moment, and make the day enjoyable for everyone involved.