Recently I was invited to photography a friend’s wedding, I also received an invite for my family and myself for the same wedding. Am I going to photograph the wedding? The answer is sadly no.
I firmly believe that to photograph a wedding and photograph it well, I need to be an observer, a fly on the wall, and not involved in any way. I need to move about, explore the venue, look for angles, capture candid moments. Shooting a wedding is hard work – and only made harder if you have other responsibilities on the day. Can all this be done as a guest? I don’t think so.
OK, I admit I will be taking my camera along, but only as I would for any family event. I’m even considering just taking a compact. I have no problem taking a few shots for the happy couple, but I wouldn’t dream calling myself the official photographer.
So turning it around the other way, can guests be photographers? I must say right from the start, I haven’t got a problem in guests taking photos weddings, in fact I encourage it. Guests can capture wonderful candid moments that a photographer will never see, and other guests are truly relaxed around them. I do however think there is a clear distinction between what a wedding photographer is being paid to provide, and what guests can achieve on the day.
With the proliferation of iPhones and SLRs it does seem that every guest now comes armed with a camera. As I said above – I don’t have a problem with that – but I do think it’s sad fact that so many guests spend the day peering into their beloved smartphone. As a reportage style photographer, I love seeing the reaction of a congregation as a couple make their vows, the mother crying and the proud father. Sadly this is so often lost behind their phones and compacts.
Perhaps though as photographers that’s what we SHOULD be capturing, if guest have phones and cameras so what? After all we are there to record the day – including Uncle Bob holding aloft his iPad 32gb (in black). I personally like the shot of the bride and groom facing the sea of ‘paparazzi’ whilst signing the wedding register. Everyone wants to take a little bit of the day away with them (and probably post it on Facebook).
So ban guests from having phones and cameras? Absolutely not, but I do think that guests should put their phones down and take in the day, be involved… and enjoy everything the bride and groom have meticulously planned for you.