A photo studio from the USA recently put online a video that made quite a stir in the wedding community. The video makes the case for unplugged wedding showing the impossible difficulty wedding photographer have to go through because of guest taking pictures during the ceremony. This motivated me to share my thought on the matter and discuss the ins and outs of unplugged weddings.
Before anything I invite you to check the video for yourself
The wedding is not about the photographer
The video has been relayed a lot in my network of wedding photographers. I’ve read outraged comments about how guest ruin their work, about how they should be the only one taking pictures and how it devaluates their art. Well. Dear colleague I am sorry to say that you are selfish and short-sighted. The wedding is not about you. The wedding is not about your art. The wedding is not organized to feature your work. The wedding is about the bride and groom.
Guest taking picture is part of it. They are happy to be there, they want a souvenir, a memory or something to share about this special day. If the bride and groom don’t mind them taking pictures, let them be
Wedding photography is about documenting the day
I like to embrace documentary/photojournalistic philosophy as much as I can. In this light, I don’t mind guest doing…whatever they are doing. If there is guest taking pictures I will document that too. I will not transform the wedding day into something that it is not. If uncle Bob has been standing the whole ceremony next to the bride recording with his ipad I am not going to change that fact. I am going to document uncle Bob documenting. Of course I will try to hide him as I can to produce refined and clean images. But documentary photography is about embracing the chaos not trying to control everything. So go ahead Bob.
Wedding documentary is done up-close
When I am hired to photograph a wedding I am entitled to go up-close and personal. The bride and groom has paid me to be the one documenting their special day and by such they trust me to be physically closer, they trust me to position myself in the very best spot.
Often times this best spot is not at the back of the aisle. Most of the time it is right next to the couple. Physically close. If I am the closest to the couple, guests will never pop up in front of me. I will always be in front of them.
Guest can mess up my work though
Although I prefer not to push for an unplugged wedding, couples should know that sometimes guest can make me miss a moment. This is stated in our contract that I am not responsible for failure due to guest behavior. Guest can mess up in a lot of ways :
- Passing in front of my lens at a critical moment
- Firing flashes at the very same time I shoot a picture (that happens more than you would think)
- Shooting above my shoulder and confusing subjects about where they have to look or which camera they have to be aware of.
Guest do look better without an ipad in front of their faces
That is the biggest reason why you want to do an unplugged ceremony : be able to actually see people’s faces. It is true that nowaday the bride and groom turn around only to see a crowd of people with phones and tablets in front of their faces. So much for connexion and shared emotions
In one word
Do an unpplugged if you feel like so. There is very legitimate reasons to do so. But do not let your photographer bully you into doing it. Wedding guests taking pictures are not an excuse, they are part of the story and should be embraced as such