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OUR TWO CENTS ON UNPLUGGED WEDDINGS

20th November 2017

Special occasions like weddings attract the photographer in everyone. Families and friends come together dressed up and looking amazing, and of course, there is that moment when the bride walks down the aisle. It’s only natural that your guests will want to document and share the events of the day, often instantaneously on their iPhones.

While this comes from a place of excitement and love, there are times when this can impact your professional wedding photos. Some photographers have delivered well-publicised rants on moments ruined because of guest conduct (see here) and there are a tonne of articles on how to have an “unplugged wedding” (i.e. how to tell your guests to switch off their devices – see here). It can be a touchy issue and we’re often asked for our opinion on this, so here go our thoughts:

When you hire us to shoot your wedding, we will do everything in our power to capture the critical moments in a beautiful and professional way. But we’re not party poopers – we wont stop anyone taking their own photos provided they respect our need to do our job. If they are competing for the little space that we have, we will (politely) ask them to move aside where we can. But, there are times when this is not possible, and one of those key moments is the all-important ‘walking down the aisle’ shot.


Note: at iconic Sydney locations like St Mary’s Cathedral, you might also get tourist paparazzi!

 

This is usually the first biggest ‘wow’ moment of the wedding day. However, it’s becoming more and more rare that people watch this as it happens – rather a typical aisle shot is now lined with screens. From a technical perspective, most indoor ceremony locations like churches have very difficult lighting conditions and taking a photo of a moving subject under those conditions is really hard. We have the experience and equipment to handle this but the standard guest with a camera phone does not. Creative ability (and our modesty) aside, their photo will never be as good or as sharp as ours. But their attempts to take those photos could get in our way and will most likely be in your shot.

If you’re a wedding guest who is reading this, please be mindful not to block the aisle. We’ve seen selfie sticks in aisles (see photo above), and guests who have stepped into the aisle and blocked the groom’s line of sight (as well as our clear shot of the bride). And pretty please leave the iPads at home! The bigger the screen, the bigger the distraction.

Some couples may want as many photos as possible and encourage guests to take photos at their wedding to give a varied perspective of the day because, let’s face it, the more photos, the better! But, if you’re concerned about cameras or guests blocking the view or if you’d rather see the unobstructed smiling faces of your friends and family, you may want to consider an unplugged ceremony.

In our opinion, seeing guests on phones during the ceremony can be distracting and screens in photos can sometimes mess with the aesthetic. If you’re paying for a wedding photographer or videographer, let those close to you know that they can relax and enjoy the ceremony – we have it covered. It’s super easy for guests to get tugged into tagging photos or liking others’ photos and it can take them out of the moment.

One of the reasons in favour of unplugged ceremonies is that it keeps the focus on the bride and groom, and those candid reaction shots that we love to get are more heartfelt. Photos of people staring at a screen or through a viewfinder are just not as special.

There are also times when guest photography can get in the way. We don’t use flash during the ceremony a) because its distracting and b) because we shoot natural light, however guests that are trigger happy with flash can cause our photos to blow out and there’s nothing we can do to fix that. We’ve also had occasions where an overexcited guest with a DSLR jumps in front of us during the first kiss, or stands in positions that we need to get the best angle. In addition, guests taking pictures over our shoulder can be distracting for people in the photo as they don’t know which camera to look at, so we may not get all eyes to camera for those important family photos. It can slow down the process too when we’re often strapped for time.

And it’s not just guests which can eat into time with your professional photographer. Sometimes other suppliers want to take their own social media photos. We know how important social media is to suppliers and we are more than happy to pass on our photos on request. We do this really quickly too – we normally upload a teaser gallery within a couple of days of the wedding and tag in your suppliers on our social media. So, if you’re being pulled aside and time is critical, let your suppliers know we will pass on our work.

Overall, it’s really an individual choice and we’ll always respect that. Couples should do what they are comfortable with, bearing in mind the need to be diplomatic to their guests who we know have good intentions. We always work in a spirit of cooperation with guests and suppliers, but if you do have any concerns, speak to us and consider going unplugged. Also, as an alternative, if you don’t want to make a song and dance about putting the phones away, at least tell immediate family, grandparents (often the iPad culprits) and the bridal party (i.e. those key people in the front rows) as they’ll be the ones we’re focusing on for candid reactions.

Have you had an unplugged wedding? Do you wish you had an unplugged wedding? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at info@markjayphotography.com with your two cents.

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