Every year, there is a set of conversations that pop up in the wedding photographer and wedding community in general about the concept of the Unplugged Wedding. That is to put a title to a wedding where the guests are banned from using their cameras and are to give the photographer have space to do their thing. Since this is such a hopping topic and is the beginning of the wedding season, here are my thoughts on it.
Before I begin, I have to share that Erika and I actually did have a wedding like this. At the bottom of our programs, we had a note that said “We’ve hired a talented photographer…” I hope the sentiment of this comes across. It was not that we didn’t want people taking pictures, it is that both of us are firm believers that when you have a camera or phone in your hand, you’re not as present in the moment as we’d like you to be. Erika gets after me when we’re walking along and I get caught up instagramming something because I’m not focused on the moment as I should. In the same vein, we invited people to come and celebrate for a reason, we really wanted their joy and spirit of support to be fully there as well. Specifically, we had a time in our ceremony where we were blessed by the attendants and we really wanted that to be a sacred time to share with all who were there. That being said, I hate the term unplugged wedding. It just sounds pretentious. Can we call it something positive, like the “here and now wedding?” (I’m open for suggestions)
That all being said, I really disagree with a lot of the thoughts I’m reading from other photographers. The thought is that it really makes our jobs easier when everyone else doesn’t have cameras. That is true. I will agree that there have been moments when someone stepped out in the aisle and blocked a photograph I was making. There are times a photo was made too bright because someone else’s flash fired at the same time as my shutter. I have rolled my eyes at the iPad photographer who is at every wedding too.
But, I am a professional photographer and so is anyone else who you may be hiring for your wedding day. We have seen all of those things and we know how to deal with it. We’ve had people shooting over our shoulders while taking bride and groom portraits. I know how to ham it up with “Uncle Bob” (the term that the community has dubbed to the family member who has photographic leanings) so that he has a blast. And realistically, I’m going to mess up, overexpose, underexpose, mis-fire or something else way more than anyone else will. I take 3,000 photos on a wedding day, but will deliver a few hundred of them. I guarantee that few of those are because someone’s camera was in the way.
So, don’t let the needs or desires of the photographer get in the way of the vibe that you want to create. This is your wedding. This is your day to be with your friends in your own way. If you and your friends love sharing instagrams of your food and shoes, make sure that they all not only take those photos, but come up with an awesome hashtag beforehand so that you can all compare. There are some really cool apps out there that collate the photos from one date together so that you can easily get the different angles. Maybe you could even get the wedding party to pull out their phones to video the first kiss and make a Matrix style bullet-time kiss (seriously, someone do this!). If you are getting married in the a cathedral, maybe it would be best to let people know that your pro has it covered. But, no matter what you choose, make that decision because it’s what you want to do. Then, you’ll have happy guests and I guarantee a photographer who is going to capture your day in your own style.