Today’s post is half mental note to myself, and half tutorial. One of my very dearest friends is getting married this weekend. We’re the kind of friends that you can’t remember when you met and became friends. We’ve been friends so long, the word “friend” doesn’t really grasp our relationship, and “sister” seems to fit better. I am blessed enough to have a few friends that are more like sisters and fit this description, but only this one is getting married this weekend. I am not her photographer. It would be difficult for me to be the photographer while also being a bridesmaid, and I can be there and enjoy the weekend as a whole more as a bridesmaid. I’m excited about the festivities upcoming, and can’t wait to see my sister marry the love of her life. I am also already having an internal struggle with not being the photographer. It’s a terribly selfish struggle, but a struggle nonetheless. When I see a perfect moment, I have the irresistible urge to photograph it, and get a sick pit in my stomach when I can’t. Like so many other guests at a wedding, I’ve pulled out my camera to grab that moment, even when not being paid for it, just to have that moment to look back on later.
So, my tutorial for today is how to not be a photographer. This actually means, how to stay out of the photographer’s way at a wedding, or other event where someone else is being paid to shoot that event. This does not mean don’t pull out your camera. I’d be the biggest hypocrite if I said don’t shoot anything at all. What I mean is, be cognizant of where the photographer is, and what your camera may do to that perfect shot if the photographer gets you in the shot, leaning out into the aisle with your iPhone. Will the bride and groom have their perfect moment recorded by the person they’ve hired, or will they always have the back of your head and your point and shoot in the middle of the shot? Here are some tips to make sure you’re not engaging in the biggest 21st century wedding faux pas, and that your friends don’t regret inviting you to their wedding:
Tip 1): Always know where the (paid) photographers are. Make sure you’re not in their shot with your camera. I’m not telling you to be paranoid and always look around for the photographer. Photographers like to try to blend in so that guests don’t even know they’re around. This is different. This means that when the bride and groom are having their first dance, you don’t stand up from your table directly in front of the photographer who’s about to take that perfect shot of the couple together. Just as you do in public when walking the street and see a person with a camera, you don’t walk in front of them, you walk behind.
Tip 2): If you’re inside, turn off your flash. These days, cameras and even camera phones have a setting to allow you to turn off your flash. You know how you feel blinded after having an unexpected flash go off nearby when you’re at a concert, show or just out in public? Pro photographers have flashes that can point toward the ceiling or be diffused with another piece of equipment, so you don’t have that bright, everything-disappears-in-a-flash-of-whiteness that you get from a camera flash that is pointed directly at the subject.
Tip 3): (Probably the most important) – Never run down the aisle from the back of the room to grab a shot you think you need to get. You think I’m joking, but I mean it. Allow the photographer (the paid photographer) to run down the aisle, if need be. He likely will have a telephoto lens as part of his equipment, that will allow him to get the shot from the back of the room, but only if you’re not running in front of his lens. Besides, you’ll just look silly in front of all those people.
The point I’m trying to make here is as much for myself as it is for you – when attending a wedding as a guest, be a guest. Enjoy yourself, and your time, as a guest. It’s fine, great even, to take photos – you want those memories as much as the next person. But when you’re not the hired photographer, allow the hired photographer make all the crazy moves to get the perfect shots for the bride and groom. That’s not your responsibility. (Remember, Allison?)
PS: One final tip: Don’t ask the photographer to step out of the way so that you can get the shot you want. That’s a no-no.