Should the photographer call the shots?

How many times have you attended a wedding and felt like a prop at a day-long photo shoot? In what has become a serious case of the tail wagging the dog, one of our culture’s most sacred ceremonies has been taken over by the desire to look good in pictures.  The purpose of a wedding photographer was originally to document what happened at the event.   Now we have “fake leavings,” and staged, mock events set up by the photographers, and hour long waits for food until the portraits are taken and the bridal couple make their (well-documented) entrance.

Have you ever missed the couple’s first kiss because the photographer was standing between you and them? Have you even been distracted from witnessing the vows because a team of photographers were darting here and there throughout the ceremony? Have you ever felt like the wedding photographer was actually the wedding coordinator?

Your friends and family will spend a lot of time, effort and sometimes money in order to participate in your wedding. They will not likely spend much time, effort or money to look at your wedding album.  If getting good photos is more important to you than entertaining your guests, then you will be missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Weddings are one of the few events in our lifetime that draw friends and family together from near and far. You will treasure more a photo of you and an old friend, or you and an aged aunt, than you will the 13th pose of you and your new spouse after the ceremony.

In order to ensure your photographer isn’t calling the shots at your wedding, you may want to keep the following in mind:

  • The photographer should not be standing in the aisle, or be right in front of the couple, at any time during the ceremony.
  • Flash photography should not be used inside a house of worship during a religious ceremony.
  • Your photographer should not block the view of any of your guests during any moment in your wedding or reception.
  • You should have as many photographs of your guests as you have of yourselves.
  • Your guests should not feel that you value photographs of yourself over time spent with them.
  • There should be one person calling the shots with regard to the order of events during your ceremony and reception. That person should be providing instructions or guidance to the photographer.

There will be a lot you will want to document during your ceremony and reception. You will want to show the beauty of the place where you were married, document the wedding party itself, and of course have portraits of yourself and your new spouse while you are looking your very best. Just as important, you will want to have photos of you and your friends celebrating one of the most important events of your lifetime. Your reception will hardly feel like a celebration if you are only moving from one photo shoot to the next. You will, however, be able to have fun at your own party if you are able to simply enjoy the events you’ve been planning so long, while your photographer discreetly documents them as they happen.