Camera Usage Etiquette
This is a blog post that has graced my page more than once in the past, but I have encountered it enough this year to make it a focal point once again.
I have learned that unless you sort of educate brides and grooms (thus educating their guests) on certain aspects of wedding days, then they are left in the dark. Until I became a wedding photographer, I didn't know half of what I now know about how to conduct myself as a guest at a wedding.
Professional photographers are hired for a reason. The bride & groom & their families spend money on professionals to come into a wedding day to capture all the perfect moments so that you (the guest &/or family member) can relax and take in the moment with your eyes, not your device.
Professional photographers are present from the moment the bride gets her makeup done to the time the tail lights of the getaway car are fading into the night. We are paid to have our eyes open at all times, know the right angles, know the right moments, etc.
We are the professionals for a reason. I have photographed enough weddings to know where to stand to capture moments so as to not distract from the moment being captured.
I know to stay to the side of the room as the bride and her father are having a tender moment, so that I don't detract from such an emotional moment. Yet I can still capture what needs to be remembered for years to come.
I know that when the bride & groom are having their first dance, that someone standing two feet from them with their iPad in their face is terribly distracting and sours the moment.
I could go on.
There is really no other way to say it..
Unless you are a professional photographer hired by the bride and groom to photograph their wedding day, you should keep your SLR (iPhone, iPad, disposable camera, etc.) in your bag while attending a wedding ceremony.
*There are lots of reasons why this is important. Its not just Michelle being a killjoy.
1.) The paid professionals do their best to stay out of sight during a ceremony. We wear dark clothing to stay out of sight. We use long range lenses so as to keep far away from the focal point of the ceremony while also capturing all we need to. When a guest uses their SLR or other camera device, it is terribly distracting, because then you add to the number of people moving around during the ceremony. Nothing can sour a moment in a ceremony worse than a guest moving around, making noise with their cameras when they should be sitting and enjoying the moment.
2.) Camera shutters typically make sounds when they are fired. So, when you have two professionals already using their shutters and you add guests using their shutters, this makes for a lot of unwanted noise during a ceremony. Particularly if the ceremony is inside a building that echoes; i.e. a church.
3.) Few photographers will use their on-camera flash during ceremonies, because that is terribly distracting. We do not use flash during the ceremony for that reason. So, if a guest gets up & uses a flash, it takes attention off the bride and groom for obvious reasons. The bright flash is distracting as well as the sound the flash makes when fired. This applies to smartphones and iPads as well.
This brings me to the topic of flash used by guests outside of the ceremony.
The main reason for not using a camera with flash during the getting ready photos, the reception, & the grand exit is flash pollution. Guests also tend to unknowingly physically block us from getting the shot we need/are paid to get.
When we, the professional photographers, enter into the room where the bride and groom get ready, the room where the ceremony will be, the reception site, & the grand exit location, there are several different things we note.
-The lighting is the first major aspect I settle before I get started. I check the amount of natural light that filters in (adjust the blinds, open doors, etc.), the color of the artificial light (yellow, daylight bulbs, etc.) because that will determine if I need a flash, what settings my camera need to be on, etc. When a guest (bridesmaid, family member, etc.) uses their flash (smartphone, iPad, SLR) it severely detracts from the shot I am trying to capture. Flash pollution is what I call it. I have had to dump so many awesome shots simply because a guest's flash interferes with my flash & overexposes the photo, thus ruining it.
This is NOT to say that I don't think these folks can bring their phones or even SLRs into the room. I firmly support family and friends documenting the day! Just be respectful of the bride and groom and the money your friend/family (the bride and groom) put into paying a professional to capture these moments.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T the space of the paid professional to do their job & we will respect your desire to capture shots on your phone so you can instantly post them to social media ;)
Pass it on, spread the word etc.