With the technological advances of the past decade, the means to photograph digitally have been made available to everyone, and at a reasonable price. Be it a consumer-grade SLR, a compact point and shoot, or an iPhone or iPad, we can all snap pictures whenever a photo-op presents itself. And that’s a great thing! For the most part, I’m a proponent of anything that bolsters creativity.But when it comes to weddings, there are some problems that can arise when everyone in attendance thinks they’re Annie Leibovitz. An unplugged wedding basically just means that your guests are asked to put away their devices during the wedding ceremony itself. More and more couples these days are doing this.
1) Guests with cameras get in the way.
When everyone holds up their smart phones and iPads, it interferes with your photographers’ ability to do their job. If I had a dollar for every time a guest stepped out into the aisle with their device, I could retire today.
I remember when I first started shooting weddings in 2008. One of my favorite photos to capture was the guests’ reaction to seeing the bride for the first time as she walked down the aisle. Well, not anymore. These days, everyone has a phone stuck in front of their face. Instead of seeing all of the happy, smiling people, you just see a bunch of Apple logos. It almost feels like product placement in a movie.
2) You’re paying a professional to do this job.
And not only are you paying a professional, you’re paying a professional a lot of money for a quality product. You don’t bring hot dogs to a fancy restaurant. You don’t bring watercolors to the Louvre. You don’t… eh, two analogies are probably enough. The point is, leave it to the professionals. They know what they’re doing.
This segues nicely into number three…
3) iPhone pictures suck.
I realize there are a lot of people out there who might disagree with this, but it’s true. You just don’t have the creative control with a smart phone that you have with professional gear. You can’t shoot shallow depth of field (and no, “portrait mode” doesn’t count). You can’t sync with off-camera lighting. You can’t use filters (I’m not talking about Instagram). High-ISO performance is atrocious. Don’t even get me started on lens optics.
And these are just the technical aspects of photography. Never mind the years of training and professional creativity wedding photographers have worked their whole lives to perfect.
4) An unplugged wedding allows your guests to be in the moment.
We’re constantly plugged in these days. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, SnapChat, etc., are right at our fingertips 24/7. Instead of talking, we text. Instead of experiencing a concert, we watch it on our tiny phone screens. Instead of being present at a wedding, we take photos and video and immediately post it to social media. We are all guilty of these things and I think we should make a concerted effort to be a little more in the moment, especially during important events like weddings.
5) You’ll miss out on photos if you don’t have an unplugged wedding.
Sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s not. Here’s a quick example: after the ceremony, there’s a very short window of time to do your family photos and couple’s portraits. If there are seven people standing behind your photographer all taking pictures of their own, it’s going to take seven times longer for everyone to get their shots. So now, you either have to cut out some of the photo ideas your photographer had in mind, or start the reception late and, as a result, lose valuable shooting time at the end of the night when the venue kicks you out. Either way, you’ll miss out on some of the professional wedding photos that you’ve already paid for.
6) It can wait until the reception.
There will be plenty of time for photo ops during the dance party. There’s no time crunch and everyone’s relaxed and having a good time. This is the when you should be taking cell phone pics and posting to social media.
Despite all of this, there are still those who would say, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do!” Well, that’s an understandable notion. I don’t presume to be anybody’s keeper. But I’m not writing this article for me. I’m writing it for you, the couple-to-be. It’s your best interests I have at heart here, not my own. It saddens me when newlyweds miss out on photos that they really wanted because of the actions of an inconsiderate few.
So when planning your wedding, I urge you to consider having an “unplugged” ceremony. You’ll thank yourself later. I promise.
I’ll leave you with quote I once overheard from a savvy groomsman during a wedding at the Dunafon Castle: “We hired a professional photographer and you’re taking pictures with your f–in’ Blackberry?!”*
Well said, sir. Well said.
* This was back in the day when Blackberries were still a thing.