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Wedding Advice: Going Low-Tech

Here is some free wedding advice for couples out there planning your wedding. I’m talking today about the benefits of “Low-Tech Weddings”. If you have gone to a wedding in the past three years, you probably have noticed a significant increase in the amount of technology intruding upon your ceremony. Let’s say you have 100 guests watching you tie the knot. They are there for you, supporting and loving you, and are there to share in the joy of your wedding ceremony. Of those 100 guests, it is very likely only about 60 of them are actually there with you. The other 40 are watching something else: their tech.

Don’t get me wrong. I love technology. I am on computers and smart phones and iPads all day. As a wedding photographer, I find it difficult to attend someone’s wedding without having my brain wrapped around how I might see that wedding through the lenses of my own cameras. Despite that temptation, I unplug for the wedding. I want to be fully present there for the couple I am there supporting. I want to actually experience their wedding day and celebrate it with them. I want to create a memory in my heart, not on a flash memory card. Some officiants have started including advice prior to the commencement of a ceremony, to ask the guests to be “present” and not view this beautiful ceremony through the view screen of a smart phone. Sometimes I wish I could stop in those moments and run up to give those officiants a huge hug and thank them.

As a professional wedding photographer, it is up to me to educate my couples (and sometimes their guests) on this very real problem. I don’t have anything against guests taking photographs at a wedding I have been hired to photograph. Heck, I encourage it and I frequently help guests with photography questions. The vast majority of guests have enough respect for the couple getting married that they will not jump out in the aisle in front of the photographer, or worse, walk around the actual ceremony with their iPads pretending to be Steven Spielberg. Unfortunately, there almost always seems to be one who does not share that same respect. This has happened more than once! Please understand that you are there as a guest. You have not been hired to capture photographs or video. The couple has spent thousands of dollars to make sure their wedding day is documented. This is not the place to finally use that expensive camera you bought and barely take out of the bag! In fact, your repeated use of that cheap flip-up flash can even ruin the professional photographer capturing a moment that the couple might have treasured forever. Think about that one for a moment. You could be ruining their wedding photographs!

I took the following photograph so that I would be able to tell the couple why I might have missed a given shot, if this gentleman decided his iPad movie of their ceremony was more important than my photographs. This was a guest, not someone asked to do this. In fact, there was a professional videographer present. This was a very tight space, but Spielberg here wandered around the ceremony altar itself, in and out, with utter disregard for the sanctity of the couple’s wedding.

Now, one might think this is a phenomenon exclusive to the young and their technology. It is not. Brides and grooms, may I respectfully and lovingly suggest that you let your guests know you have hired a professional photographer, and that they should have no need to stand or kneel in the aisle during the entire ceremony? If I were shorter, I would have missed this couple’s kiss shot, because the gentleman in the photograph below decided to camp out there and capture his own take on the ceremony from a kneeling position about eight feet away from the couple. Even so, the only shot I could give the couple was a close-up, because I didn’t want Eager Beaver in the shot.

Wedding photographers have to walk an incredibly tight rope between establishing and holding the positions and angles you hire us to get, and rubbing the wrong guest the wrong way. Thankfully I am 6’7″ tall and most guests stay out of my way. Sometimes they even get under me and shoot the same shot I am shooting. I don’t really care about that, because I know my shot will be better. But what if I was not this size? Most wedding photographers (and people, for that matter) are not. Please educate your guests. Let them know that if they jump in front of a photographer in order to get a shot with their cheap point and shoot camera or smart phone, they are likely ruining a professional photograph with high quality camera equipment and the skills your professional photographer brings to the table. If you are a guest at a wedding and you think it’s okay to jump in the aisle because the photographer is not standing there in that moment, take a look back up the aisle. Chances are, the photographer is getting a wide shot and you’re about to get right in the way.

This is not just consideration for the professionals hired to document the wedding day, it is consideration for the couple getting married. Weddings are not inexpensive, and we have been hired for many reasons. Your iPhone shot is not more important. Please have enough respect for the couple getting married to actually watch them get married instead of using their wedding day in order to play photographer for an hour. I promise you, the couple will appreciate it.

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