The Unplugged Wedding : No Cell Phone Cameras?
As a wedding photographer, I have watched with sadness as technology has infiltrated ceremonies over the last decade or so. I’m not talking about the use of audio equipment to ensure all the guests can hear, or television monitors to project photos of the couple’s courtship. Those are both great advancements that can add a lot to the right ceremony. What I am talking about, unfortunately, is how the advent of camera phones and Wi-Fi connectivity has completely altered the landscape of weddings.
Think I’m being a bit dramatic? I suppose it is possible. But 10 years ago I could have taken photos of an entire ceremony where the guests would have been staring intently, with a tear in their eye as the nearly newlyweds declared their love for each other. Now, I’m lucky if I can capture a single photo of guests that doesn’t show at least 5 people distracted in the moment of trying to take their own photo, or even worse – eyes glued to the screen of their smartphone as they check their e-mail or Facebook account in the middle of the “I do’s”.
People have forgotten why they attend weddings in the first place. Their constant connectivity has made it difficult for them to simply be in the moment.
From a photographer’s perspective, this can be especially frustrating because it makes it difficult to catch those images of guests aglow with happiness for the newly betrothed couple.
I also can’t tell you how many times an amateur photographer from the guest list has ruined my shots with an ill-timed lean into the aisle. The problem is that while most couples probably appreciate being able to see the wedding from their guest’s perspective, when it comes to those big moments (the first kiss, the father-daughter dance, and cutting the cake – just to name a few examples), they are paying me to capture those images. They hired a professional photographer because they wanted those pictures to come out flawless. They are invested in the outcome. And when one of their guests contributes to the ruin of what otherwise would have been an unbelievable photo, they are often just as heartbroken as I am.
Sometimes it seems as if guests are convinced that only THEIR photos are the ones that count. I always wonder if the photo is really for the Bride and Groom or is the incessant iphone/pad-ography simply a way to show-off and grab some seconds of attention and a few “likes” on Facebook.
I don’t mean to sound like a stickler. It’s just sad to me, watching how our obsessive connectivity has spilled over into even the most intimate of affairs. Hashtag #sadface.
Which is why I have been excited lately to see a new trend appearing: unplugged weddings.
More and more brides and grooms are making the decision to ask their guests to keep their phones turned off and their eyes turned towards the action. This is accomplished in numerous ways, from quick notes on the invitations to a brief set of instructions from the officiator up front. The message is clear though: we want guests to experience this moment with us, not be caught up in capturing it for us.
After all, in most cases the couple has already hired a professional to do just that. When it comes to the friends and family they loved enough to want to share this big day with , they would far rather they actually be a part of the action.
So far, it seems as though these unplugged events have been relatively well received. People almost seem to appreciate being given an opportunity (even a directive) to unplug and remain in the moment. From my side of the camera, the pictures are better as well. You can see people truly enjoying themselves, and no one is jumping in front of my lens at precisely the wrong moment in order to capture an image of their own.
It’s something to think about, even if the next wedding you attend doesn’t explicitly request that guests remain unplugged. Is taking a few pictures of your own or tweeting updates at every turn really worth what you might miss? Or could it be kind of nice to just power down for a few hours and truly enjoy the event?