Wedding season is among us. As photographers we are hired for one and one reason only, to creatively capture intimate moments between you and your new spouse. So when its comes to “guest photographers” its understandable that as photographers we have mixed feelings. Lets begin with what is a “guest photographer”? A “guest photographer” is a person who is a guest at an event and takes it upon themselves to photograph the event and its highlights. Now lets be clear. We do not have anything against “guest photographers”. I mean after all, you would think that the more people you have taking pictures the better because you would have more pictures. It makes us happy to think that your guest may have captured a image that we may have missed or an angle that maybe we weren’t able to get for any reason. I understand that there may be guest in your wedding that are aspiring to be photographers/videographers or just so happy for you that they want to capture memories of their own. However, our world comes crumbling down when a guest ruins a picture or gets in front of our lens when we are capturing an important moment of your special day.
Stephanie and I, don’t by any means feel a sense of entitlement or want to come across as prideful but we are fairly confident that our picture would have been better than the one that your guest took with his iPhone/iPad or even their DSLR. I remember the days when guest came to a wedding to celebrate and just enjoy the emotion of the union between the bride and her groom. With the advances in technology the dilemma is only getting worse. Last year during one of my favorite weddings, I just couldn’t believe that every single guest I’m not even exaggerating, had their phone up in the air some even had iPads. During the bride and groom lighting their candles I couldn’t even get shots because uncle Tom was literally about to tackle me because he wanted to record with his iPad. I just couldn’t believe it. I mean what were we supposed to do? Fight with a guest at the alter? Of course not! We were able to capture the moment but definitely not like we wanted. Not the angle or crop that we wanted that would have made that picture epic, editorial, magazine worthy. Just recently I had to actually ask guest to clear the isle during the vow exchange so that we could capture it and get the kiss without seven people in the way with their phones. Oh and don’t even let me get started on the guest that is flash happy. Many people don’t know this but any flash besides the one your photographer uses will ruin the pictures. The pictures will just be over exposed and now that first kiss as husband and wife is a faint memory. I could post examples but I rather not do that to my brides. Just google images “wedding pictures ruined by guest”. I dare you not to cringe.
So the question becomes how can you, the bride/groom, set your photographer up for success? After all you are paying us, the professionals, to capture your day for a reason. One option is to consider an unplugged wedding. This would be a photographers dream but we know its a bit extreme. You can determine how unplugged you want it to be. You may decide that you don’t want any pictures during the ceremony but are okay with them snapping candids during the reception. You may want to prohibit pictures all together. I would definitely recommend that you request that your guest remain seated and out of the isle and away from the alter. Whatever level of restrictions you both agree on, the next step is to deliver the message to your guest. There are couple of ways that you can do that. If you have a website setup for your wedding day communications, post it on there. You can have it on the wedding program, or have your wedding party spread the orders. You can even have a sign at the entrance. Regardless of which route you go, I would recommend that you have your officiant make an announcement prior to the ceremony beginning. The last step is to have someone there to enforce whatever you and your fiancé agree on. Don’t underestimate that sneaky determined guest thats just itching to get a picture of you looking your best.
What about the moments that you allow your guest to take pictures? What restrictions should you put in place to make sure that they don’t ruin any pictures for moments like the first dance or the cutting of the cake. The number one thing that we recommend is to have them stand behind the photographer. Moments like the first dance or moments like your dad shedding a tear when he dances with you cannot be staged and I’m sure you want it captured by us and not your guests phone. You should also ask that your guest not use flash. As for the photographer that is reading this. Just as you would like your brides guest to be courteous to you and the brides investment, it is essential that you understand that the guest are there to watch someone that they love on the happiest day of their life. Keep in mind that just like you want to capture those moments, they want to SEE those moments, so try to be mindful of where you stand so that you aren’t contributing to the dilemma.
Help us. Set us up for success! We love what we do for a living and we are committed to tell your story through our lens. In writing this blog our only hope is for you to be made aware of the pros and cons of having guest photographers and how to tackle the problem. We wish you good luck and we look forward to working together to capture amazing moments. Moments that you will be able to cherish everyday for the rest of your life.