It’s a whole new ball game for photographers when it comes to weddings…. gone are the days when one “Uncle Bob” shows up with a nice camera wanting to take photos of the same wedding the photographer is getting paid to cover. Now every person attending a wedding has a pretty decent camera in their pockets in the form of a “smart phone” and for some reason this has given wedding guests the idea that the photos taken from such phones are wanted and/or needed making it more difficult for the actual paid professional to complete their assigned duties! A couple years ago it was a nuisance at best, however in 2018 if you have not asked your guests to refrain from taking photos at least during the ceremony it can become an all out war fighting guests for the best spot to photograph the happy couple.
Now you may be asking yourself “What’s the Big Deal? Why wouldn’t we want more images from our wedding that can be provided by our guests?” And that is a great question because I have seen some great photos taken by guests over the years, and maybe they capture something that the photographer has missed while he or she is photographing other things. It makes me happy knowing that others have captured other angles or events that I may have missed, but it literally breaks my heart when a guest ruins a perfect photo opportunity by jumping in front of me when I’m capturing a key moment of the day; mainly because I know that the photo that they just had to get will more than likely be blurry, low resolution or perhaps the couple will never see because it doesn’t get posted or even given to them! If I had been able to get the shot that I had prepared myself for than my clients would be happy. Shots like I knew we were just seconds away from like “the first kiss” that would’ve been a key element in their wedding album!
I’m including some photos from recent weddings that I’ve covered in this blog post with the faces of the couple and guests blurred out because my objective is not to shame these people, but rather to inform the public the benefits of an “Unplugged Wedding” or at the very least an “Unplugged Ceremony”. I’ve been in the business for 18 years. Not to make myself look old, but I started out assisting my mother who was a pro in the days of film. It’s been sad watching the progression of seeing the smiling faces of wedding guests during the ceremony when the bride walks down the aisle to seeing faces hidden behind cameras and tablets. It really looks like the guests are more engaged with their phones than the actual wedding.
The most recent wedding I covered I literally had to push between at least four woman all vying for a position to photograph the couple. How was I ever to get the photos I was getting paid to take without having to be a little rude to guests. One time I was covering a Jewish wedding and I and my 2nd cameraman were both positioned for a crucial shot. When the rabbi got to the end of the ceremony and the couple were about to smash the glass an important Jewish tradition. Suddenly, a big guy sitting up front jumped up with his iPad blocking both of our views and so you can’t see the groom stomping on the glass at all! It’s not like I could yell, hey you up front move! Guests standing in the aisle of the photos also makes me sad because no matter what when you look at the photo your eyes go directly to the person standing in the aisle taking the photo and not to the actual subject of the photo.
I also really cringe when guests try to take photos over my shoulder during the formals. Usually, we are already under a time crunch so this extra interference doesn’t help. Flashes from others cameras can ruin my photos and the eyes of my subjects tend to wander to whomever is trying to take an additional photo and so they won’t be focused on my camera. And it can make guests angry if I have to tell them to put down their cameras. It’s better just to leave these photos up to the professionals. I’m not even interested in making money off print sales as most of my clients are getting all of their high resolution digital files anyways. I just want their photos to be the best that they can be, so the respectful thing is to let the photographer do their job.
So for the distinguished couple comes the new trend that is actually kind of sad that it has to be done… “The Unplugged Wedding”. Other than having your guests surrender their phones at the door to the venue like they do at some comedy shows now to protect the artists’ routines, some wise person came up with the idea of the “Unplugged Wedding”. The idea is plain enough in that it’s a simple request from the couple to their guests to turn off all of their electronic devices (even if it’s just for the actual ceremony only) and to be present in the moment for their special day. To facilitate this couples will not only write this in their wedding program, but also create signs to have displayed at their event and/or ask their wedding officiant to make an announcement during the opening remarks before the processional begins. I’ve only actually been to a couple weddings so far that put this idea into practice and I can tell you it was completely worth it! The photos and video during the ceremony that we took at these events were all amazing and the guests look like people participating in something rather than screen zombies!
I know selfies are a thing now and so are wedding hashtags, but if I were getting married today instead of 12 years ago when I did get married I would be going for a fully unplugged wedding with the reception included. Smart phones were around when I got married, but they weren’t as prevalent as they are today. My mother has always been the photographer in our family, but I ordered her not to bring her camera to my wedding because I wanted her to be present, to enjoy herself and to not be concerned about whether or not she was getting enough photos. And for one of the few times in my life I saw her at an important event in our family’s lives without a camera in hand and she was loving it! I also ended up with some beautiful photos with her in them which are few and far between because she was always the person taking them. I researched my photographer thoroughly, I had seen his work and I spent more money on that then almost everything else (besides food) because photos were that important to me. And I didn’t worry about a thing. He covered every moment of our big day, nothing was missed. I saw maybe two people pull out other cameras that day. I received one disk of photos from one of those people and almost every image was either blurry, over exposed and just not up to my standards. The other person posted a few on Facebook and I never saw the rest. I’m so grateful for the photographer that I hired and happy that I got married in another time!
I loved working with Angelina & Darrin to create their dream wedding in the mountains! This was another case of less is more! This couple planned a destination wedding here in Colorado from their home state of Illinois. Angie and I spent quite a bit a time on the phone discussing the special places that she wanted to go to do some of their photos, colors, and more. I even ended up fielding a call for where they should look to rent chairs! I just enjoy helping couples plan their big day and having seen almost every kind of wedding imaginable over the years, I can almost always point them in the right direction for their needs. This couple had camped in Golden Gate Canyon State Park many times prior to their wedding so having it here just seemed like the best idea! It was a simple affair with I think with no more than 20 guests. They utilized the Harmsen Guest House in the park where their parents were staying as the getting ready area and held their beautiful ceremony at Panorama Point. On most days this location yields a beautiful 180 degree view of mountain peaks, but unfortunately, the mountains were fogged in during their ceremony. Luckily, the clouds parted right after the vows and we were able to get quite a few photos with them in the background. After the family photos we did a couple mini hikes to a couple more spots with amazing views for photos and then afterwards headed to Black Hawk which is just a short drive from the park. The Saratoga Casino houses The Mill Chophouse on their top floor where the small dinner was held. The food was amazing and abundant! I think each person present went home with a “to-go” bag! It was a beautiful day and I’m glad I got to spend it with them!
Reception Venue: The Mill City Chophouse at Saratoga Casino
Chair Rental – Area Rent Alls
Officiant: Edwin Ward
My hearts are with Kelly & John as they spend some of their last days together as a married couple. While I was really happy that I could be at their wedding ceremony to document this special occasion for them it was also not without sadness. I absolutely hate cancer and it’s devastating effects on people’s lives and I can’t wait until the day a cure is finally found. The Ranch Country Club did an amazing job accommodating the couple’s last minute wishes to move their wedding ceremony up a few weeks and while it wasn’t quite as large as it was originally planned it was still a beautiful event with touching moments, amazing people and an outstanding view. Thoughts and prayers and all my love ~Jamie
Venue: The Ranch Country Club
This wedding took a while to happen! We were originally booked to cover Denise & Tauna’s wedding in 2017 and due to some unforeseen circumstances the ladies had to postpone their grand affair until a year later because of this they had to downsize their plans to a simple ceremony held at the Genesee Mountain Park Picnic Shelter just a little ways up in the mountains outside of Denver. I was pretty amazed at what can be done at this affordable venue with beautiful picturesque views! The shelter comes with access to electricity so they were even still able to have my husband, Michael with Digital DJ provide music for their event. The couple made this a complete DIY event by do all of their own decorations, silk flowers, and even all their own cooking for the event! Denise told me she was up to the wee hours of the night creating their amazing taco bar for the wedding.
The bride’s decided to incorporate a lot of LGBT friendly colors having the wedding party wear rainbow colors. And combining rainbow sand for their family blending ceremony during the actual ceremony.
A lot of fun was had by the guests that attended… and you could definitely feel the love these two shared! Congrats again Denise & Tauna!
Disc Jockey: Digital DJ