Unplugged Weddings, or Please Put Down The iPad
May 18, 2013 4:33 AM   Subscribe

Guest Photographers or: Why You Should Have an Unplugged Wedding

Pro photographer Corey Ann explains, with examples, what causes her so many problems in getting the wedding photographs her clients have paid her for: their guests.

Pushing in front of her, standing in the frame of posed photos, flooding pictures with flash, and above all assuming that their invitation entitles them to take precedence over a photographer who is being expected to get a perfect record of the couple's perfect day.

Her proposal: politely, but firmly, ask your guests to enjoy the highlights of the wedding themselves, and leave taking photographs of those parts to the photographer.
posted by Major Clanger (96 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
This is an argument against hiring professionals.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:45 AM on May 18, 2013 [31 favorites]

The guests have the benefit of not charging to send the digital files over, of course...
posted by jaduncan at 4:46 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Call me old fashioned, but I feel events such as weddings are there for my nearest and dearest to enjoy themselves, not to create a perfect photographic record. If guests enjoy themselves by taking photographs (mystifying though I find that) that is fine by me.

That said my loathing of professional photographers at private events, and complete disinterest in wedding photos, is clearly not shared by others.
posted by tavegyl at 4:47 AM on May 18, 2013 [16 favorites]

the now terrifies me so i have to document it for future retrospection
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:48 AM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

The guests have the benefit of not charging to send the digital files over, of course...

This depends on what photographer you get.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:49 AM on May 18, 2013

This is an argument against hiring professionals.

Have you seen most people's photos? They suck. I'd be annoyed if I was paying a talented person to take a good lookin picture of an important event and they can't do their job because my uncle's badonkadonk is in their way.

Of course, I absolutely loathe having my picture taken and would vastly prefer one limited and edited professional set of my wedding than 900 million flash-washed out of focus snaps of half my wine-blushed face slapped all over Facebook.
posted by Diablevert at 4:55 AM on May 18, 2013 [35 favorites]

At a friend's wedding, I couldn't see half of the ceremony because the photographers were there "creating a perfect record" aka blocking the view of everyone in the (quite small) chapel.
posted by jeather at 4:57 AM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

As someone who is hired to shoot weddings and someone who wants people to be happy, I am kind of nonchalant about this issue. A photojournalistic record of the day should include what happened, even if it means you're taking pictures of guests holding iPads and blocking your shot now and then.

I would prefer if they stayed in their seats for the ceremony but I don't mind if they snap a few photos. They're guests, and if that's how they want to participate, that's fine.
posted by bugmuncher at 5:09 AM on May 18, 2013 [12 favorites]

I thought the statement:

“Welcome, friends and family! Good evening everyone. Please be seated. Dan and Jennifer invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology. If Dan can do it, then so can you.”

was a very classy way of telling people to sit down and have some manners. I am very sensitive to the photographer's gripes here. How quickly we forget who hired them to do the job in the 1st place. Ultimately, the actions of these guests are most disrespectful to the bride and groom.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:10 AM on May 18, 2013 [26 favorites]

We've avoided this problem among my siblings by all just living in sin. It's lovely once you're in.
posted by Abiezer at 5:12 AM on May 18, 2013 [27 favorites]

Ironically they ARE "documenting the day". This is what our modern life looks like- people watching weddings (and museums, and street events and parties and ....) through viewfinders.

I did it myself at a friends wedding and I am terrible at taking pictures- and I realized- what the hell, I am not even "watching" my friend and her new husband walk down the aisle, I am just trying to take a picture and getting pissed off in the process. Crazy.

But this photographer saying "please tell your relatives not to take snapshots so I can get paid to do my job of documenting your wedding from my perspective as a relative stranger to the bride" is also weird. So...I don't know.
posted by bquarters at 5:19 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think a lot of this could be solved by requesting no flash photography. Reasonable people would probably get frustrated with their dark/blurry photos and give up.
I also feel kind of good that I've never been to a wedding where someone jumped out into the middle of the aisle for a photo.
posted by starman at 5:33 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

My son's wedding was full of this. Ugh.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:37 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was at a choir recital (and adult club not a kids school event) about a year ago and it struck me as odd and a bit tacky when half a dozen friends and family pulled out ipads to take pictures. They were holding the things up over their heads to get a clear shot and obstruct the view of everyone behind them.

I think the smart move is to leave the cell-cameras out of any formal ceremony but let your guests do whatever they please at the reception. I'd take pros for the show and who gives a shit at the after party since I don't need a professional to get pictures of my dearest friends and family when completely intoxicated.
posted by cmfletcher at 5:40 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

The end of "professional photography" is upon us.
posted by spitbull at 5:40 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think a pro photographer should just handle it. That's the whole point of a pro over my cousin with a fancy camera and some REI lessons, right? As a pro, you should have a technical skillset, a social skillset, and an artisitic eye. The social skill set is as important as the others. I have to think there's a good way to be friendly but assertive when you absolutely need to (posed shots, father-daughter dance, whatever...), and otherwise just pay attention and wait for some good shots during the other moments.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 5:41 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

At most religious weddings I've been to, it would seem really tacky to pull out a camera (cellphone, iPad, etc.). I don't even remember that the "official photographer" was taking pictures during the actual religious service. I thought "wedding pictures" meant the carefully staged shots taken after the service.

We got married at the DeKalb Co. courthouse in a little room with just a grumpy judge. Nobody took pictures during our "ceremony" either.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:43 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Although everywhere you go now its like having a fly's eyes.... 10,000 iPad and iPhone images from all the idiots in front of you using their freaking head sized tablets to make movies, blocking the live action with all those retina displays.

When they find out Apple's proprietary crack cocaine interface juice causes nostril cancer maybe this will change.

Does anyone ever even watch all that video? When?
posted by spitbull at 5:43 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

The end of "professional photography" is upon us.

Meaning the end of good photographs is upon us.
posted by tommyD at 5:47 AM on May 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

I think a pro photographer should just handle it.

But even a skilled pro has limits in the face of lots of people with no manners, right? I mean some situations just become untenable. I think the photographer in this piece made that point. If my clients said "I want the best" then I think a conversation about this would have to come next.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:48 AM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

This has been an annoyance for decades... a few guests are so busy trying to take photos they're disrupting the event, and preventing the pro from getting the shots the couple are paying for. No, modern technology has not improved to the point where a snapshooter has the experience, eye and training to produce pro results... It's why the couple spent actual money on a wedding photographer. Sit down, relax, enjoy the ceremony, and enjoy the CD full of photos for every guest that comes with wedding packages these days.

Today, with modern DSLR equipment, wedding photographers are more unobtrusive than ever, or they should be if they know their business, and they're less nickle-and-dime about prints or digital copies than they were in the film era.

Snapshooters "scooping" the pros has been with us since pocket-sized 110 cameras with the flip-flash bars - we forget that photography was just as ubiquitous before camera phones. No, the quality really, really hasn't improved.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:49 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

//I think a lot of this could be solved by requesting no flash photography.//

Firsst you'll have to teach 50% of the population how to turn off the flash on their camera.
posted by COD at 5:50 AM on May 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

I see the well documented downside of having rude amateurs get in the way. But they will also come up with a ton of views of things you'd otherwise miss, if you give them the chance (and aren't rude to them as well).

I think that having some place that everyone can send their photos to share after the ceremony would be a good thing. Flickr isn't it, I'm not sure what is.

Here's an experimental photo of a bride that no professional is likely to do. (Too hot, odds of it working too poor, etc)

In regards to our own wedding in 2000, the photographer had a faulty flash, and only my sister's photos saved the day.
posted by MikeWarot at 5:50 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

The end of "professional photography" is upon us.

I don' think so. People with no skill had cameras long before iphones and ipads. We do remember that, right?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:50 AM on May 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think there's a difference between guests taking photos at the reception and during the ceremony. People are unlikely to get in the way much during the reception and are much more likely to take pictures of things the pro is missing, but I don't think it's asking too much to ask people to put away their cameras/cellphones/gameboys(???) during the ceremony and just pay attention already.
posted by quaking fajita at 5:56 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, tricky. The wish to have guests concentrate on the event, rather than their 'phones, versus the desire to get some photos after the event that I can use without copyright restrictions.
posted by alasdair at 5:58 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

You all know I'm taking screen shots of this thread, right?
posted by HuronBob at 5:58 AM on May 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

We requested no photos during the ceremony. Not for the photographers sake, I just get sick of the hordes of people worrying more about documenting an event than enjoying it
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:00 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

A good friend of mine is a professional wedding photographer in San Francisco. If I recall correctly, she takes 4000 - 5000 shots per wedding, often using two photographers. That's over thirty years of combined photography experience, in everything from technical shooting, to composition, to 'liaising' with guests to set up shots.

Watching her practice her art is inspiring, the way she focuses, sets up the shot, shoots, and moves on. Immediately taking another shot in seconds. For hours. In a variety of lighting conditions and settings. Her hands are a blur as this happens, it's like watching magic really.

And that's just shooting. There's also the process of making sure there are photographs of everyone. Good photographs. That people like. Making people smile. Getting groups of friends together. It's just as much about building memories as it is about taking photographs.

I know a few other wedding photographers, and this really started with the theme of leaving disposable cameras on tables for people to crowdsource imagery. Any wedding photographer or couple will tell you that those photos are generally useless. They may make a great outtakes reel, but they don't really capture the event the same way a photographer does.

I had some friends that had a wonderful wedding. Amazing setting. 75 guests, both friends and family. All parts of their lives individually and their life together represented. All years. A really unique experience for them to see all those people in their life in one place.

They relied on the crowd for photos, thinking it would be fun for everyone take photos and share them on a dropbox. Two friends were professional photographers (not wedding photographers). One took amazing pictures of their friends. So one group from the wedding has the best photos – yet only a few include the bride and groom. The family is generally absent. The other photographer is a chatty individual. Amazing photos... when they took photos. They took heaps of the venue and the start of the wedding... and then nothing after that. They actually put their camera away, because they "wanted to enjoy the moment".

There are so many cameraphone and point and shoot photos from the day. iPhone 4 photos, many with HDR on. The point-and-shoot photos have dates on. Most were set to automatic. The bride was so disappointed when all the photos were collected. Family members were left out. Out of thousands of photos, there was less than a handful that they could scrape together in an album. Which then printed with a lot of artifacting and colour shifts.

I think everyone was disappointed by this as well. It was an amazing weekend. There were old couples, new couples, people that have since passed away. We were there for many days, and there's just lots of OK pictures. Actually, there is one literally amazing photo. We all have a copy. But nothing else. "That was the worst money we ever saved," they both say.

My photographer friend can make an iPhone photo look absolutely amazing. Because the tech is one part of the equation, but the other part is skill and art. Just because everyone can buy a 9MP prosumer rig for a few grand doesn't mean they have all of the training and capabilities as a professional photographer. And that ranges from the technical capabilities to managing the crowd.

Just another example of "the high price of low cost." I'm not saying everyone can afford a wedding photographer, or it's a requirement, but each wedding is a unique experience and so much energy and planning goes into it.

These moments are our shared history, and their being captured on tiny little sensors in piecemeal fashion. Plus, to the point about actually interfering with the photographer, it is so relaxing to go to wedding with great photographers. To leave the phone in the coatroom for a while and go out and celebrate. To not be looking for great facebook moments. To have the photographer come by every fifteen minutes and grab a photos.

Weddings are about celebration and being together, not about generating heaps of low-grade content.
posted by nickrussell at 6:07 AM on May 18, 2013 [53 favorites]

When we pull out our wedding photos, we start with an album taken by a talented guest, who did a beautiful black-and-white set. But this was 20 years ago. The number of amateur photographers at our 100+ guest wedding could be counted on one hand. I tried to do the same for friends over the years, with some success.

However, I'm going to my nephew's wedding today and leaving my DSLR gear safely at home. It's no longer easy to unobtrusively document nice moments at such an event. I'm not passing judgment on it, things change, but when everything is 10 seconds from an Instagram... your guests are both capturing and perhaps performing continually.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 6:11 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm 100% in for "Guests should unplug to be fully present for the wedding". I'm only about 45% in for "Guests should unplug because they get in the way of the professional photos". How terrible, that the love and excitement of the people who know the couple got in the way of the photographer's perfect souvenir of the day! I get that everyone wants nice wedding photos (I certainly did), but a wedding is much more than just a photo opportunity. The people there (all the people, not just the bride & groom) come first. The photos are the celebration of the day as it happened, not the day perfectly curated by a professional. That's just my opinion.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:15 AM on May 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

A wedding isn't about respecting the guests or allowing them to "participate". If you're a guest at a wedding, fucking behave yourself.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:18 AM on May 18, 2013 [18 favorites]

I guess I had a pretty small wedding (about 75 guests), and my family are closer to the "talented hobbiest" end of the spectrum than the "annoying iPhone owner" end. And it was an outdoor wedding on a gorgeous summer day, so no flash really necessary. It went really smoothly and there was a lot of courtesy between my pro and my family during the ceremony/reception, and a lot of compliments on both sides afterwards. I suspect that the incredibly rude behavior the photographer in the OP experiences had more to do with, well, rude people than with amateur photographers.

I don't think my family was a replacement for the pro (she was well-worth her fee, and I could gush about her for ages), but it made them happy to also be documenting my special day, and they did get some great photos that the photographer didn't. There's also a great picture the pro took of my mom, holding her camera, flashing the most natural, unguarded smile I'd ever seen of her in a photo. It's definitely one I cherish from the day.

(Also, it can takes weeks and weeks for a pro photographer to get their photos ready to send you, even if she is awesome and gives full rights to her photos. I was grateful to my friends with cameraphones who got pictures that I could put up on Facebook/other social media right away, and send to family members that couldn't attend.)
posted by muddgirl at 6:18 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was a few beers in to a friend's wedding recently when the photographer started making her rounds for candid shots of guests. Hard to remember why now, but at the time I found her annoying, so I decided to try to shoo her away using the most passive-aggressively obnoxious means at my disposal. To her eternal credit, she ended up including the resultant picture in the wedding album anyway.
posted by saladin at 6:19 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't see the pic, saladin! Maybe it's set to friends only?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:21 AM on May 18, 2013

People who use iPads for snapshots drive me nuts. A little digital camera isn't too intrusive, but a great big tablet sure is.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:21 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

they can't do their job because my uncle's badonkadonk is in their way

My uncle's badonkadonk is so spicy hot, every guest would ask the photographer to cut a Viewmaster slide of it so in their private moments they could gaze upon its superfine glory in stereoscopic splendor.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:22 AM on May 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

The problem for me is that whenever we hear from wedding photographers on the internet they're complaining. If The Onion had a story in which a wedding photographer complains at length about a guest who wore wrong-color socks and ruined everything, you'd be able to convince me it was real.
posted by jepler at 6:23 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a tangent, but this reminds me why I loathe weddings. All this high dollar pomp and circumstance to shut the traps of the whinging old family members and the meticulously brainwashed next generation, performed with either grim familiarity by the celebrants or turned into another excuse for the tiresome trend of the flashmob youtube day of happiness that we've waited for for our entire lives up to this point.

What? Your wedding wasn't the happy ending to all your childhood dreams and now you're dissatisfied with the hum drum everydayness of married life?

A relationship isn't real unless it is celebrated with a five figure church nightmare and capped off with a drunken free-for-all among friends and relatives that you love so much you only see them at weddings and funerals, and a moment, however beautiful, isn't real unless you interrupted it with the intrusive process of being a fussy amateur photographer in the herd of other fussy amateur photographers. Your vacation isn't real without pictures, your home isn't real without pictures, the graduation of your niece isn't real, the purchase of your first car isn't real, your killer goal isn't real—

The mean side of me revels, at least, in that the photographic record of a whole generation is going to be sweetly erased from history because digital media are not archival, cloud storage is not archival, and the everyday amateur photographer has none of the diligence of file management needed to work around the long-term issues of post-film image storage.

My father was a professional-grade photographer, and my brother is one still, and photography is a wonderful, amazing artform, but my dad used to catch me fiddling with my Instamatic and would occasionally say, "use your eyes for this one," because there is a distinction between what is worthy of frozen evidence and what is a moment, never seen before and never to be seen again, to be savored as a moment in all its pleasure.

He did not live to see sponsored official photo spots marked with colorful signs and hints on how to perfectly capture Cinderella's Castle in popular destinations, or to see the marriage proposals in which the quiet instant when two people reconcile their desires to be together for as long as they can turned into shambling exhibitions of high school drama club-grade theater.

"Are you here right now or in your camera?" he'd ask, back in 1978, catching me in that sort of stultifying trance of trying to capture the image of a steam train rolling in. It's something that's so small through a tiny plastic viewfinder, and so riddled with annoyance as you try to get it framed just right so you can always revisit this moment in which you were not there, being lost in the process instead. "Just listen, son."

I let my Instamatic dangle from the little plastic loop and listened. The dark bulk of the old steam train chuffed and hissed and announced itself with a symphony of clatter and a low thunder rolling in like a parade of elephants. It rose up from the distance and you could just take in the mass and presence of the thing with your whole body as it sidled up in a way that made you step back involuntarily and let loose a hissing roar when it stopped. I still have my first shot from the Instamatic, a perfect square composed reasonably well, and it is a reminder, I suppose, but more than that, I will never lose the experience I had when a photographer with a soul told me to put the camera down.

What do we keep from a wedding photo?

Oh, hey, look, we got married! Oh, hey, this is when Marnie and Chad got married!

Is it such a risk that we'll forget?

It seems, and I'm told that I'm a crank, so this may obviously be taken with a grain of salt, that we just don't believe anything is real anymore without forensic evidence, like we're all preparing ourselves for our eventual brutal unwinding in Alzheimer's, when we'll only find memory in those shoeboxes of triggers, or, for the future-minded, in the sorting through tens of thousands of images filed under DCIM/IMG7831.

Maybe we'll just forget, once we realize that real life is ragged and unpredictable and full of frustration, that it wasn't supposed to be that way, way back when the grown-ups started the drumbeat of the wedding as that perfect happy ending before the credits roll and everyone's happy forever. Maybe we worry that we'll forget our one way mission and just live our lives.

"Jesus, Joe, you're just bitter because you're single."

"Or maybe I'm single because I'm bitter, but really? You don't find this boring and silly?"

"No. Now stop talking."

"I'm not talking. I'm listening with annotations."


Sadly, the wave of legal gay marriage is killing my old excuse for avoiding weddings ("I refuse to participate in a bigoted institution") and forcing me to either invoke my real excuse ("I hate weddings even more than golf and shrimp.") or to just shut up and go, and to wit, I will be riding my motorcycle a thousand miles to attend the super gay wedding of an old friend in Vermont, but my camera will be at home and my phone will be switched off. If there's something to see, I will see it, and store it somewhere in the back of my brain.
posted by sonascope at 6:23 AM on May 18, 2013 [66 favorites]

You know what is the worst? Always thinking about what is the worst.
posted by srboisvert at 6:30 AM on May 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Here's an experimental photo of a bride that no professional is likely to do.

It's a good idea, but your execution is flawed.

1. the giant fountain in the background, the horizon is squint.

2. the whites are overexposed, you're too far away from the bride, people want to see the dress, the textures, the folds etc etc

3. you have too many out of time shots of the bride and shes looking at the camera at the start. not the end of the picture - everyones eyes go to the fountain and this leaves the bride looking like she's clumsy - please tell me a bride that wishes to look clumsy in front of an audience on her wedding day.

4. there's no groom - is he in the bar with his pals while this is being taken ?

maybe you can see how much prep would have to go into pulling off a successful concept shot like that - learning photoshop, scouting a location before the day , thinking up a narrative, pitching the narrative and executing it successfully with the participation of someone thats got better things to do .....with reshoots etc - it really does have to be bang on in a very small window of time - maybe 5 - 10 mins at most.

I hate the word professional and i hate when people want to be seen as such, but when i got married I just let the 2 people get on with it and did what they said to do, which freed us up to relax a bit more on the day - at the same time as my own photo show was opening 1000 miles away, they're the people who know best on the day and its best to trust them.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:34 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

We did this at our wedding in a fairly compromised manner; no one but the photographer (who also happened to be a dear friend) and her employee were allowed to take photos during the ceremony, but everything else was free game. We got some pushback from certain family members, but not only did it make the ceremony pleasant, but most people commented on how mug they loved that fact. It was great.

Oh, and if her bookings are any indication, wedding and event photography is not coming to "an end," but in fact becoming more common.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:36 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

The end of "professional photography" is upon us.

I've noticed that when an amateur dabbles in any kind of art-type-thing, their respect for professionals goes UP. I used to pretty much have contempt for all photography of all kinds, got nothing emotional out of it, just generally thought photos were documentarian and lacked any sort of emotional value whatsoever. As I started taking photos of my own, I developed a grudging appreciation for the truly talented professionals, and once I started working with, like, actual camera equipment, I started seeing pictures taken by professionals that truly blew my mind.

Practice leads to experience and experience leads to appreciation.

What? Your wedding wasn't the happy ending to all your childhood dreams and now you're dissatisfied with the hum drum everydayness of married life?

Respectfully, I think this is an issue of your friends/acquaintances "doing it wrong" and not an issue of marriage in general.

Two of my friends got married immediately after graduating college, big Southern wedding and all that, and for all I am incredibly skeptical of people declaring true love at 21 and people having big ceremonies to loudly tell anybody anything, it was pretty evident that these two people were as close to being a single person as you can get, and the entire wedding emphasized that in ways both beautiful and sublime. Having a sense of humor helped, too: their wedding cake was the Companion Cube from Portal, and the bride's dance with her father abruptly shifted to Kung Fu Fighting halfway through so they could duel each other with swords and then break a bunch of boards together. Plus, there were little kids! Little kids are the best.

And seemingly the everydayness of married life isn't bothering them whatsoever. They seem delighted, or at least amused, about the process of co-owning pets, helping each other look for work, complaining about their living situation, supporting each other's hobbies, playing League of Legends together, on and on and on. It's been genuinely delightful to watch. And neither one overshadows the other: they each come off as pretty distinctly themselves, but it's like they've got a certain weight off their shoulders that comes from knowing somebody's got their backs.

The "everydayness of married life" is the good part. The wedding is just an excuse to have a party, I think, and to take pains to ensure that, for one damn day, reality is as perfect and looks as idealistic as it does in your daydreams. That's a noble endeavor if the people embarking on it aren't complete fools.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:39 AM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

My sister-in-law had a friend take her wedding photos, and they were terrible. Oh, there were plenty of pictures of the bride, the groom, their families and friends, but the photographer took crappy photos. For example, there were photos of groups of people half in the shade and half out, so people were either washed out or too dark.

My wife's parents insisted on a professional photographer for our wedding, and we thought it was a great idea. We found a lovely lady who had two college students as assistants. While the assistants were less skilled, they took a lot of great "b-roll" photos.

But we also gave our family and friends "disposable" cameras to shoot any pictures they wanted. Some people started getting "monster" faces from wedding guests (we sort of had a monster theme, with an active volcano cake, a graveyard cake with custom bride-and-groom zombie toppers, and our wedding glasses had a wedding monster of our own design -- you get the idea). Some people took nice photos of other elements of the wedding. But the flash in those cameras was miserably underpowered.

We had an outside wedding, with the reception inside. Many of the photos from inside were too dark to be of any use, but the outside photos were great fun. They captured something that the professionals didn't, in their thousands of photos - our guests having fun.

Sure, it was "our day," and the professional and her assistants took a bunch of great photos capturing us, but it would have been incomplete without the guests. The pros took some nice candid photos, but we really like the goofy, fun photos our guests took.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:44 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

A wedding isn't about respecting the guests or allowing them to "participate". If you're a guest at a wedding, fucking behave yourself.

Maybe I'll just go somewhere I can participate and be respected and let you enjoy your perfect wedding.
posted by crayz at 6:52 AM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

You really don't need that many photos of a wedding. Weddings are like babies: you think yours is beautiful and special but honestly they all look about the same.
posted by Legomancer at 6:54 AM on May 18, 2013 [13 favorites]

I took this picture at the last wedding I went to. This was just the front row - basically the entire crowd looked like this. I would have been happy to leave it to the professional photographer. I felt embarrassed about having brought my camera anyway.
posted by flora at 6:57 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

I absolutely agree with that photographer, but I couldn't finish her essay. Something in her tone made me completely unsympathetic to her and her position, despite my thinking that she is right.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:00 AM on May 18, 2013

ThePinkSuperhero: sorry about that, not sure why it's not working... here it is on Flickr.
posted by saladin at 7:00 AM on May 18, 2013 [9 favorites]

it's up to the hosts, perhaps in conjunction with the photographer, to set the expectation here. please do not take photos during the ceremony and allow the photographer we hired to do it seems simple and reasonable enough. the hosts should know enough about their guests to know what to expect and what tone to set.

i'm not really a fan of professional wedding photographers. my husband and i, as a favor, did some wedding video for friends, who really liked the results, and so we've been asked to do it a few times over the years. we're not pros, so it's something we've not charged for, and it has been at weddings that are more on the casual side; usually it's our gift to the couple and something we do only at their request--just two of us with HD cameras, as unobtrusively as possible, trying to capture a few moments. we stay out of the way of the pros, and we've tried to make it clear we're not part of the wedding industry or getting paid for it. in every case except for one, the pro photographer (and any assistants) turn out to be total dicks who do whatever they can to fuck up the video--stepping directly in front of us at key moments, running into us, standing next to the video camera and whispering some needless crap or having a spontaneous coughing fit--during the ceremony. at one i left the camera stationary and spent the ceremony watching one particular assistant intentionally position herself at various points in the ceremony--not taking photographs or otherwise engaged, but closely assessing video line of sight and then casually strolling over to block it. the one dude who wasn't a dick was really cool to work around and explained that this is indeed a common pro strategy.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:04 AM on May 18, 2013

Haaaaaaaaa, that's funny, saladin.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hasn't the author tried snatching the guests' cell phones and throwing them?
posted by orme at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

We had around $1800 as a budget for our entire wedding. So we encouraged *everyone* to take pictures. That's what served as our official photos. Of course, our friends included some professional photographers, graphic designers, photography hobbyists, and the like, so we knew in advance we'd be getting a lot more out of this approach than most.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:09 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some elements of professional photography is changing. Our wedding photographer offered to sell us all of our digitals, or one of the usual wedding photo album. My wife and I were not fans of the wedding books, because that's not our style. We went back to her to shoot some family photos, and we loved what she did, but she wouldn't sell us the digital files, unless they were less than full sized, and at a steep price per image.

We moved, and in looking for other photographers, we tried out a few Groupons. One studio did outdoor photos or studio photos for about the same price. They seemed to be younger ladies, one photographer and an assistant. Without asking us, they took us, they took us to a great outdoor area, and spent maybe 45 minutes in total with the photographer and her assistant. The photos were great, and we were able to buy more than 100 digital images for less than $800 because the studio had a flat rate for purchasing all your photos.

The second place was a sole photographer and her assistant in a professional studio. When we arrived, the assistant was there and got our information. Then photographer came in, ushered us to the studio setting, which had some weird seats that were great for group poses and such. In 15 minutes, we had a bunch of photos, and that was that. The photographer also did all the printing in studio, with some printing serious gear. We could buy the digital images, but they were ridiculously expensive. I felt like we were subsidizing the photographer's gear. We could have bought more than a hundred images, but for a few thousand dollars.

Of these three studios, my wife and I liked the 2nd, where we were treated well, if by junior photographers and not the head of the studio, but the photos were great. And they understood that we wanted all the images, instead of a select few.

In this time when more people have computers and a modicum of skill at photo retouching, and there are a ton of online printing services, some photographers are trying to keep control of the images they capture. I think this is the losing battle, and photographers who don't offer their customers the option to buy the images outright at a reasonable price are the smarter of the lot. Otherwise, my wife and I will take a few images and never come back to your studio. We don't care that you can do some great touch-up work, or even face-swapping to get everyone looking at the camera. I can do that to, if not so well. We don't want professionally printed books or posters, because we don't place as much value on the fine details a professional photographer can provide as compared to the decent results we can get from digital processing companies, who can put images on cards, books, shirts, mugs, or whatnot.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

We just took the tape from the security camera. (Which, as it turned out, was a necessity anyway. Thanks a lot, Uncle Willard.)
posted by pracowity at 7:29 AM on May 18, 2013 [23 favorites]

I literally cannot stand this wedding photographer. She is complaining in the service of promoting an outmoded style. Most old-school wedding photographers do not do wedding photography for the art, but they do it because any service with "wedding" attached to it has a ridiculously high markup. Now that iPhones and uploaded photos to social media are making a lot of this business model obsolete, she complains.

For my own wedding, my wife and I went with a local "wedding photojournalist," who you can find through the Wedding Photojournalist Association. Wedding photojournalists see themselves as artists/photojournalists first. They focus on capturing candid shots, not on forcing the wedding party to go through three hours of poses, where you can't spend any time interacting with your own guests. They can do poses if requested, but typically do them quickly and painlessly. In addition, they have the photojournalist skills to capture great photos in any environment and not throw a hissy fit, just because your auntie wants to capture a photo on her iPhone.
posted by jonp72 at 7:30 AM on May 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

Screw it, I'll say it: The emperor has no clothes.
posted by Flunkie at 7:39 AM on May 18, 2013

This issue highlights a problem with our photo obsessed culture. It is now almost impossible to enjoy any public event without a crowd of people taking pictures. One would think they had lost the ability to enjoy an experience other than through a lense or in retrospect by looking at pictures.
posted by BenPens at 7:47 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I literally cannot stand this wedding photographer.

There was this time commonly referred to as The Incident when I showed up to my best friend's wedding and was yelled at by the wedding photographer in front of the wedding party. She said if I snapped literally one more photo she would quit. It was such a jarring meltdown that I looked around and said, "Who, me?"

Later that night, sans camera, people were coming up to me and laughing about what happened. Apparently she was going around the reception telling people that were dancing to "have more fun" and putting people in positions.

She was a top-of-her-field Indian wedding photographer, among the highest paid in the business. As a professional photographer, that was literally the day I swore off wedding photography. The most charitable thing I can say is that I appreciate the amount of pressure that someone in that field has to deal with. Client expectations, managing a crew of second photographers, working with non-models on a very strict time table and getting wide coverage. It's basically everything studio photography isn't. You kind of need to be a total dick.

They focus on capturing candid shots, not on forcing the wedding party to go through three hours of poses, where you can't spend any time interacting with your own guests.

You'd actually be surprised by how much thinking goes into this and how many varied approaches there are. Most wedding photographers do have (potentially a number) of posed shots that they hit during the day. While possibly one of my least favorite presenters of all time, Doug Gordon has a technique called "flow" where he basically lets the bride and groom dance together and he can capture a large number of intimate, "candid looking" shots in a short amount of time.

The end of "professional photography" is upon us.

There's also this tendency (let's go ahead and call it a rule) among people new to professional photography to:

A. vastly overestimate their abilities and underestimate the abilities of others, and
B. make really sweeping statements.

As you gain more experience in the field, thankfully this levels off. Pro photography is a beautiful, varied field and there's plenty of money to be made. Maybe not the "traditional" way of the generation before us, but still. Photo education, for example. Absolutely booming.
posted by phaedon at 7:59 AM on May 18, 2013

Oh man, iPad as camera for group events just floor me the first time I saw it at one of daughter's school concerts. It was all I could do not to yell out at the guy with an iPad in the second row "Are you KIDDING me?!?". Not only is the iPad a head sized view blocker but everyone has cases for them that would cover the lense so you have two head sized view blockers side by side.

Having shot a few weddings, though luckily pre digital era, I can sympathize with the author. Especially on guests blocking sightlines standing where you weren't allowed to and also with guests screwing up the formals by dividing attention. The first there is nothing you can do. The second though is usually handled by the photographer allowing guests to copy each of the poses after they've taken their pictures.

Also I sometimes wish cameras were less user friendly and defaulted to the flash being off so people would a) not take flash pictures accidentally and b) would be forced to know how to turn the flash off and on.
posted by Mitheral at 8:10 AM on May 18, 2013

Seriously, we paid you all this money to photograph our wedding and all you got was frames of Uncle Wilbur's ass? What the hell is wrong with you?!?

The problem I see is that you have to either deal with entitled wedding guests or an entitled couple, but you don't hear from the couple until after the event and the check has cleared. I think that's the real issue the photographer is trying to avoid here. Her hands are tied in a lot of situations, so what the hell can she say to the clients?
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:21 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just got my wedding photos from my photographer so I'm getting a kick out of this thread...

My husband and I were just discussing how much wedding photos must have changed in the modern era, where now pictures of guests are commonly pictures of guests with cameras, and there are artsy creative shots taken of other people taking pictures. Some are kind of cool looking and it does pretty accurately represent The Way Things Are. On the other hand, when our immediate families and we lined up for one or two formal photos and 10 people with their own cameras (with flashes on of course) lined up to take the pictures, interfering with the professional photographer's ability to capture a well-lit shot, I got pretty pissy.

We did get a few nice shots from friends. But our professional photographer's shots are genuinely awesome. Well-framed, interesting filters and depths of field, well edited and curated. Absolutely worth the money.

Also, I'm an American and I'm used to hearing the complaint that photographers won't give you the original digital files, but getting married in southwest England, literally every photographer I researched for our wedding included DVDs of all the photos and full rights to them in their packages. I think perhaps things are a-changing in the wedding photography rights world.
posted by olinerd at 8:25 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a tangent, but this reminds me why I loathe weddings. All this high dollar pomp and circumstance

You know what cuts down enormously on pump and circumstance? Having your wedding in hospital...
posted by MartinWisse at 8:28 AM on May 18, 2013

I will say this, to add to my comment above. Hands down the best pictures took at my son's wedding were made by a fellow mefite's brother, one of my son's best friends. So he gets a pass for every single photo he took. His were better than the "official" photographer who was the priest's son. (Not that priest's son did a bad job, just that Mefite Brother was awesome. But yeah, everybody else should have put their camera away during the ceremony...but hey, if even the priest didn't mind, what was I to say???? I never thought photography would be ALLOWED in an Orthodox ceremony in an Orthodox church. )
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:29 AM on May 18, 2013

Yeah, professional photographers are not going away. A fast car does not make you a Formula One driver and a fancy camera does not make you a good photographer.

But it's a safe bet that professional photographers will drop their prices some more to discourage couples from depending on their friends to do it for free. I wouldn't want shitty pictures of my wedding, but I also wouldn't want to pay 4000 dollars for nice ones I'm not even allowed to copy.
posted by pracowity at 8:30 AM on May 18, 2013

I guess I'm lucky that my first cousin is a professional photographer. Not that we'd ask him to shoot our wedding, but everyone in our family has the luxury of his company/partners who won't charge us into the poor house for classy shots.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:33 AM on May 18, 2013

All the things that this pro photographer wrote about weddings are what make them great to me, and even what I'd say makes real candid wedding photos later. The unpredictable nature of the guests is the interesting part, and sorry pro photographer, the world is not a perfect studio.
posted by mathowie at 8:33 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

We had the luxury of having a professional photographer who is not a wedding photographer and turned out some phenomenal, but unexpected pictures. We also took no pictures during the actual ceremony; that's for experiencing not documenting. We've got pictures of getting ready and arriving and leaving, which is nice, but I don't miss the ceremony pictures.

The best pictures are probably the ones the photographer's husband took when she started dancing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:45 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hired help vs. invited guests.

posted by blue_beetle at 8:56 AM on May 18, 2013

My wife and I hired a professional photographer who specialized in weddings. She brought along 2 assistants who took care of people placement, rounding people up, and exercising a bit of crowd management as well as helping with equipment. They would set things up, allow guests to take shots, then take her shots. She was patient and gracious in asking people to hold off momentarily while she got her shots in. The pictures turned out very nicely. I don't know if the the pastor said something, but I don't remember anyone except for the photographer taking pictures during the ceremony, and it was only a few shots.

I can't overemphasize the importance of hiring someone with experience, and I think using assistants is very important as well.

I've never known anyone who used an amateur photographer whose pictures turned out well. Even people who have good equipment and can take a good picture are sometimes just overwhelmed by the wedding.
posted by coldhotel at 9:16 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Taking pictures during a religious ceremony is inappropriate, though now commonplace; using flash is really not okay. A good wedding photographer will be unobtrusive and very quiet during the ceremony. Apparently *The Kiss* is considered a required shot. It's great to get pictures of family groupings, since everybody's dressed up, hair combed, etc. A good photographer will ask questions about the family, and make sure to get a shot of 92-year-old Auntie Wendy with the bride, and any other special guests. This photographer might benefit from some Dale Carnegie training, to enhance her ability to persuade people to take their turn for the formal shots. I used to be married to a wedding photographer; he's able to joke with the volunteer photographers and get them to give him room to work. He also gives people the digital files, partly because he hates the administrative work of dealing with prints.

Getting your picture taken?
- take a deep breath, let it go, and consciously relax your shoulders.
- Brides and bridesmaids, hold the bouquet a little lower
- Women, think about where your feet are
- If you hate seeing yourself in pictures, go take a picture of yourself, and look at it in the mirror. You're used to your mirror image, not your true image, so it will always look a bit 'off' to you.
- Smile. Really. Unless you're hiding a dental disaster, smiling is usually more attractive

Real life is much more important than pictures of real life. Put down the camera and pay attention.
posted by Mom at 9:23 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

mathowie: "All the things that this pro photographer wrote about weddings are what make them great to me, and even what I'd say makes real candid wedding photos later. The unpredictable nature of the guests is the interesting part, and sorry pro photographer, the world is not a perfect studio."

I guess I have some pity for the author of the piece, because if this is true: "We are only allowed to be outside of the sanctuary in the door opening where the center aisle is and in the balcony. We are not permitted to move during the service." I can imagine them getting a lot of shit from the customers once things are finished, along the lines of:

"Why didn't you get a better photo?!"
"Well, I couldn't move, and your uncle stood up and blocked the one good shot from where I was ..."
"I can't believe you're billing me like this for this shit!"
"Well, we agreed to the hourly rates and you knew I was locked into one position, and ..."
"I'm gonna sue the shit out of you, you fucking hack!"
"Damn you, Uncle Ernie!!"

I could see how this could get quite annoying, quite quickly.
posted by barnacles at 9:27 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

jonp72, YES. I found my wedding photographer through the Wedding Photojournalist Association, and she was absolutely wonderful. Guests mentioned how incredibly unobtrusive she and her helper were throughout the entire ceremony and reception--and she worked with my desire to have as few formals as possible. I think finding a good professional comes down to figuring out the right "type" of photographer (photojournalism in our case) and meeting with them to see if they're a good match personality-wise. I feel terrible for everyone doesn't manage to find their perfect photographer match--a fussy, obtrusive professional could go a long ways toward ruining the party...no wonder there's such bitterness about wedding photography.
posted by Baethan at 9:31 AM on May 18, 2013

I could see how this could get quite annoying, quite quickly.

Especially since there is the pressure to get it right and you only have one chance at a lot of moments.
Anyone who has worked in professional photography or videography knows you can stress, pull your hair out, put in hours of prep work only for Uncle Ernie to ruin your perfect shot (that the couple has paid a lot of money for) with a flat-flash point and shoot.
It's more about wanting to please your client than being angry at the guests for taking their own photos. It's not about making the guests buy yours (well, for some it might be).
And if you are a photographer, and you are good, there is a market for you and that isn't going away (at least from the steady stream of photos coming in from the pros I follow).
posted by starman at 10:01 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is a tangent, but this reminds me why I loathe weddings. All this high dollar pomp and circumstance to shut the traps of the whinging old family members and the meticulously brainwashed next generation,

Sonascope, are you my long lost twin?

I have long referred to the big spectacle weddings as "sugar coated nightmares", and absolutely refused to have one when Maus and I got married. We got married at home, just close family and close friends in attendance, and MIL and I had cooked all the food for lunch after. (It still ended up being bigger than I wanted, because he has six siblings.) Took a lot of flak for doing it my way, including one brother in-law and his hateful shrew cornering us not five minutes after the officiant left to tell us that we weren't "really" married, and we'd be lucky to make it six months, because we didn't have a "real" wedding. In our home, on our wedding day, not five minutes after all the legal bits were handled and the officiant had gone home!

Can I tell you how satisfying it was to, on the morning of our 20th anniversary a couple years back, to ring their house and say "Oh, hey Shrew. It's Missy. Do you know what today is? Oh, it's our 20th wedding anniversary. I'll bet this has been the longest fucking six months of your life!"

Now Elder Monster and the delightful Monsterette are being pressured to get married. Not by her parents. Certainly not by us. By her grandmother, who is getting up there in years, and has informed Monsterette several times that she would like to see them married before she dies, and they need to hurry up, she's pretty sure she's going to die soon, and besides, they've been together long enough that if they don't hitch up soon, people will think something is wrong.

They've been together for 5 years, and they do intend to get hitched eventually, after Monsterette graduates from college, finds a job, and they figure out where they're going to settle, and they are adamant about this. They don't want a sugar coated nightmare, either, no matter how hard Grandma keeps pushing. (She's even whining about wanting a great-grandchild!) She has implored Monsterette's mother to "do something". MamaMonsterette maintains that she IS "doing something" - she's letting Monsterette make her own decisions, like the adult woman she is. (I love MamaMonsterette a lot.)

I suspect they'll end up eloping in a few years, with no worries about either professional or amateur photographers.
posted by MissySedai at 10:05 AM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

At our wedding in 2007, we did the disposable-cameras-on-every-table thing (remember those?), but our pro photog's shots were still better than 99% of all guest shots, disposable or not. Then again, the best shot of the whole day was by a friend (with prosumer gear, granted), so there's that.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:14 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

HuronBob: "You all know I'm taking screen shots of this thread, right?"

I wasn't going to say anything, but I am hiding in the shadows in my apartment across the screen from this thread and taking pictures of it with a telephoto lens whenever it looks like there's movement.
posted by chavenet at 10:45 AM on May 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Mr. Roquette and I had a very simple ceremony. My son filmed it. The lady who helped arrange things for us took very lovely pictures. One of the best was me handing Mr. Roquette the key to my place. We've kept our own places because it works for us.
It wasn't a fairy-tale wedding weigh professional anybody involved, but I have photos of Mr. Roquette looking really hot. He has nice ones of me.
We really could not afford expense.
Our daily life just works, because he is a really good guy.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:53 AM on May 18, 2013

Our wedding photos were a mix of both. A friend I used to work with was a budding young pro photographer, and seeing as how I had admired her work for a while, I asked if she would be our wedding photographer. She said sure and her fee was a steal. The pictures she took were amazing. They were fun, gorgeous, and everything we--and our families--wanted. But we only hired her for the ceremony (which was tiny anyway; I'm sure there were people there trying to get their own pics but honestly I was so focused on saying my vows I really don't know).

But our reception was all friends and family just snapping away. And that's perfect. As someone upthread said, I don't need a pro taking pictures of reception as I'm downing cocktails and eating sushi. Or sneaking around back to grab a secret cigarette.

So the best of worlds.

To agree with something sonascope wrote, my husband mentioned that when we go on vacation we don't take many pictures and we should. My reply was "That's because we're busy having a great time."
posted by Kitteh at 11:15 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have any wedding photographers been savvy enough to start taking wedding GIFs? This is 2013, people, let's start talking about the future.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:50 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

My brother's wedding photographer was intrusive to the point when, during the ceremony, he was standing close enough to the wedding party that the officiant turned and asked him "And do you have a reading prepared as well?"
posted by Spatch at 12:09 PM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

I hated the professionally taken photos from my wedding. We're too stiff and too self-conscious, and her poses didn't help. If it hadn't been for my friends' photos I wouldn't have any I like from that day.

I got married back in the days of film cameras, though, so less than half the guests had cameras on them and they were never intrusive.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:24 PM on May 18, 2013

This also reminds of that MeFi or Ask MeFi thread about the overall uselessness of wedding DJ's and how many of them will insist on playing Kool & the Gang's Celebration no matter how many times you ask them not to.
posted by jonp72 at 12:44 PM on May 18, 2013

Related: I went to a show last night for the first time in ages and the tiny venue's front row was taken up by (tall, male) choads trying to record it on their iPhones. They weren't dancing or even bobbing to the music- nothing! Eventually we formed a slow and rather geriatric mosh pit and they were shoved slightly further back so as to not let their iPhones get joggled.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:53 PM on May 18, 2013

The neat thing about wedding pictures is that it's the one time family all gather in their best clothes and line up to take pictures. I find them fascinating to look at at wakes and funerals when people display all the family photos. It is lovely to see someone who has become old and frail in a beautiful gown and the people gathered all remarking on how beautiful she was as a bride. And who knew George was so good looking as a young man?

My youngest was dusting in prep for our annual Mother's Day party and she took down a picture I have of my mother as a bride. She was fascinated. How little her waist was! How handsome Grandpa was! It's something that transcends cultures and the ages and is best appreciated after thirty years or so have passed.
posted by readery at 2:17 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

//I think a lot of this could be solved by requesting no flash photography.//

I have epilepsy and flash photography is a serious issue for me. I'ver seriously considered makng a tshirt for photo heavy gatherings that says "No flash photography allowed of this exhibit." I initially asked a local photographer friend if he was interested in shooting my wedding (while he is a friend, this was an offer of a paying job because I like his work) and when I mentioned no flash, he balked. (Direct quote: "Are you TRYING to make my life difficult?!")

The only way for us to get pro photos was to hire another photographer friend (being an artist myself, I have a lot of friends-who-happen-to-be-professional-artists) who also has epilepsy and thus can't work with a flash herself. We flew her in to Vermont from Michigan for this and it was 1000% worth it.

(Self-link to her photos on my Flickr) Here is proof that anyone who says they "need" a flash for a daytime wedding simply doesn't know how to use their camera.
posted by sonika at 2:31 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

my best friend had a lovely outdoor wedding where she asked that all the guests wear white (which was a lot of fun, I wore a nurse's uniform, and my boyfriend wore a matching straightjacket) the photographer, despite being told about this, showed up in a black suit, and proceeded to take terrible pictures, while doing clever things like blocking the groom's mother's view for the entire ceremony. Luckily her sister-in-law is a great photographer, and took lots of good pictures at the ceremony. My favourite picture from that day, though, was when she had snuck around the back of the guests during the ceremony, and caught me grabbing my boyfriend's butt. good times.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:18 PM on May 18, 2013

I think anyone who is not the hired professional/designated photographer who is using flash is a jackass. Conversely, I have zero problem with someone holding their DSLR up to their eye the whole time if that's what makes them happy. Just no flash.

That said, taking pictures with cell phones is just plain rude to everyone behind you. Yeah, great, you turned your flash off so at least you're not blinding the subjects of your photo, but you are still blinding everyone behind you if the venue is at all dim.

As far as flash goes, it's almost never absolutely necessary in any halfway reasonable lighting, but it can save one the need to buy fast glass that costs more than I make in a quarter. It is necessary in most outdoor situations. Fill flash is basically a requirement to avoid deep shadows.
posted by wierdo at 4:57 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh dear, by "professional photography" I meant "of the hometown wedding photographer variety." I should have said so.

However the reconfiguration of the arts in the digital era proceeds apace, and what being a "professional" photographer means, ranging from the technologies one must command to the ways one works with collaborators to how one gets paid, is changing as fast as it is for musicians, authors, and everyone else. The world will presumably still want beautiful, difficult, and technically perfect images. But the ability to create such images in software from less than professional originals is well advanced. You may dispute whether that's a photograph. Many composers I know dispute whether a lot of sound design is "music" too. But something is shifting.
posted by spitbull at 6:17 PM on May 18, 2013

Metafilter: about celebration and being together, not about generating heaps of low-grade content.
posted by beukeboom at 6:58 PM on May 18, 2013

>: "I've never known anyone who used an amateur photographer whose pictures turned out well."

I'm a technically proficient amateur photographer and the pictures of the handful of weddings I've done have turned out just fine. I got the pictures required (including on one occasion over fifty different family groupings), properly composed and exposed (twice on Kodachrome). It's not impossible.
posted by Mitheral at 7:28 PM on May 18, 2013

I find it seriously annoying to go to a wedding and there's 40 iPhones (and IPADS!) being held aloft. It's like we're incapable of enjoying a moment unless we're simultaneously viewing it through a 4 inch LCD screen. Which always confuses me by the way, because when is the act of recording the image of the real thing ever better than the actual 3 dimensional experience of the real thing? But then I actually don't really understand picture-taking as a "thing" so much so maybe it's a bit outside my realm of understanding. I have like 3 photos from college.
posted by mermily at 4:46 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a pretty poor memory for people/places/things but a single picture will trigger hours of memory. So I take pictures a lot, I've been carrying a camera with me 24x7 for 20 years now, and use it as a memory extender. This has become easier now with digital files and my latest camera is the size of deck of cards, is water/dust/shock proof, and embeds GPS location into the file while it sorts the pictures into folders by date. It's bloody beautiful.

The flip side is with hundreds of hours of practice my picture taking is pretty unobtrusive. I do things like turn off the display and/or flash, position my back to wall and shoot from the waist. You won't see me in the front row of an event waving my camera around over my head. Also I don't have to pay attention to my tool anymore than a hiker pays attention to their boots so I can experience the actual thing at the same time as capturing it.
posted by Mitheral at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2013

Just got back from a wedding that included 4 professional photographers on hand for the entire 8 hour event. I saw none of the toasts, the vows, the speeches, the cake cutting, the champagne pour, or the performers due to the constant up-close documentation by this group of pests. I should have just stayed at the hotel and watched it on YouTube.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:11 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Great seeing pictures of some of you guys. You don't look anything like I imagined...
posted by IncognitoErgoSum at 3:04 AM on May 20, 2013

Oh, wedding photographers. Such a mixed bag.

I'm a "semi-pro" photographer, which is an ultimately meaningless term, other than to say that I've had some regular paid work, but it's by no means how I make a living. I've done exactly one wedding. I have more of the photojournalism style - I didn't really do many posed photos, I did much more candid documentation, as this is the style I've worked in.

It's grueling work, if you do it right - You are constantly on your feet, and you have to really keep an eye on everything at the same time if you are trying to capture those candid moments. You spend even more time parsing your photos afterwards... It takes forever.

There's a TON of pressure on you, because if you don't get the moment, NOBODY does. It's all on you, and having the memories of a wedding squarely on your shoulders is a lot of responsibility. I have a lot of respect for anyone who does this.

During this session, there were plenty of people going around with cameras and phones of various descriptions, trying to grab their own photos. Sometimes they made it in the shot, sometimes they didn't. It wasn't a problem. It would have annoyed me much more if I was simply a guest, quite honestly. As it stands, some of those made for unintentionally amusing photos, and the occasional bit of recursion, but they were never really in the way as long as I was doing my job well.

The bride/groom were EXTREMELY happy with them. I say this not to say that I'm that awesome, I say that to underscore that the choice of photography style matters, and that there were no complaints about the people with cameras in the photos. It's an accurate capture of the event.

All of this being said, even though I'll drag the camera out to events to grab some choice photos, I find the proliferation of cameras at events beyond frustrating. Maybe that's because I believe personally in being discreet and unobtrusive and wish others would do the same, but more accurately, I think it's because I get too distracted by all of the damned screens in the way... It's total overload to me, visually. It's like combining the terminator-style info overlays with the eyes of a fly, there's just entirely too much to distract me from what's actually going on. I don't care about the person with an SLR at the front of the stage, I care about the thousands of screens that are lit up.

This was most apparent at one of the more recent concerts I went to that had some rather over the top lighting that was pulsing the audience (not quite a strobe, more intense and smooth) - Because of the delay on everyones cameras, you'd see the pulse from the stage, followed by a pulse from all of the audiences cameras that was bright enough to light the entire venue.

I think I'd prefer a "No LCD screens" rule to "No flash photography" - I have no issue with people getting pictures, and this happened for years with traditional cameras without bugging me, but the screens everywhere are maddening.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:09 AM on May 20, 2013

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