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How to Get the Best Photographs During Your Church Wedding

By Claire

Vicar: “You must be the pho­tog­ra­pher, I can tell because you look like you don’t know what you’re doing”

Me: (hav­ing picked jaw up from floor and men­tally counted to ten) “Hello, nice to meet you. I can assure you I know exactly what I’m doing, I’ve been pho­tograph­ing wed­dings pro­fes­sion­ally for over ten years. What are you wor­ried about?”

Vicar: “That you won’t do as you’re told!”

Me: (strug­gling now, but out­wardly the par­a­digm of pro­fes­sion­al­ism) “Ok.…What exactly would you pre­fer me to do?”

How to get the best photographs during your church wedding

He went on to tell me in no uncer­tain terms that I could pho­to­graph the bride enter­ing the church and the bride and groom exit­ing and that I would be allowed to pho­to­graph a set up shot of the sign­ing of the reg­is­ter (if I didn’t take too long) and for the rest of the time I was to sit at the back of the church and not move. Now the irony of this whole sce­nario is that, as I sat on the floor at the back of the church dur­ing the cer­e­mony inwardly steam­ing, I counted no less than seven mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion hap­pily snap­ping away on their phones through­out! One gen­tle­man even got out of his seat dur­ing the vows and took pic­tures from the aisle! I’m sure they were won­der­ing why on earth I was wast­ing time as the pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher just sit­ting there!

Clearly this type of sit­u­a­tion is ridicu­lous and is often borne out of the fear that the pho­tog­ra­pher is going to intrude on the pro­ceed­ings, stick his or her lens into things and behave in an unpro­fes­sional man­ner. This is a great shame as any truly pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher will be able to get some great shots dur­ing most cer­e­monies fairly much with­out any­one notic­ing. Most of us are experts at being non intru­sive, are wholly respect­ful of the solem­nity of the occa­sion and some of us are embrac­ing a new breed of smaller and vir­tu­ally silent cam­eras as well.

How to get the best photographs during your church wedding

There are a num­ber of things that can be done to smooth the way to great cer­e­mony pho­tographs including:

  • When book­ing your pho­tog­ra­pher dis­cuss with them their approach to pho­tograph­ing dur­ing the cer­e­mony itself.

  • Dis­cuss pho­tog­ra­phy with your vicar at the rehearsal, con­vey what you would ide­ally like in terms of pic­tures and reas­sure them that your pho­tog­ra­pher is pro­fes­sional, non intru­sive and discreet.

  • Show images (prefer­aby taken by your pho­tog­ra­pher) of images taken dur­ing cer­e­monies to demon­strate what can be achieved.

  • Ask your pho­tog­ra­pher to make con­tact with the vicar before the big day to clar­ify any issues and to intro­duce them­selves before the cer­e­mony on the day itself.

  • Ask your pho­tog­ra­pher if they are able to use a qui­eter and/or smaller cam­era than the stan­dard DSLR dur­ing the ceremony.

Of course it is entirely pos­si­ble that there will still be a refusal to allow pho­tog­ra­phy dur­ing the cer­e­mony and this needs to be respected. In this type of sit­u­a­tion I always feel slightly frus­trated as I feel I am being pre­vented from doing my job and this can be dou­bly infu­ri­at­ing as I watch guests all pho­tograph­ing away, cam­eras bleep­ing, flashes going off etc etc whilst I, as the pro­fes­sional have been asked to not take pho­tographs! How­ever I do, on the other hand, appre­ci­ate that a wed­ding is a reli­gious cer­e­mony and I can under­stand the point of view that it is not to be pho­tographed (if it is put politely to me!)

How to get the best photographs during your church wedding

Of course the ideal sit­u­a­tion for me, which would enable me to get the best pho­tographs, would be for the guests to be asked to be “unplugged” com­pletely dur­ing the cer­e­mony and this is a con­cept that would fit in with the sanc­tity of the cer­e­mony as well. How nice would it be for all phones and tech­nol­ogy to be turned off so that the con­gre­ga­tion could fully con­cen­trate on the pro­ceed­ings and for the pro­fes­sional to be left to do what they do best – qui­etly, dis­creetly and sym­pa­thet­i­cally record­ing the pro­ceed­ings. From my point of view there would be no scrum of pho­tog­ra­phers at the sign­ing of the reg­is­ter to con­tend with and my pho­tographs of the bride and groom walk­ing out down the aisle wouldn’t have a mul­ti­tude of hands with phones in them! I’ve also seen some ter­ri­ble amateur/guest pho­tog­ra­phers with mas­sive cam­eras do things that I wouldn’t dream of in terms of walk­ing around, get­ting in the way and pho­tograph­ing ultra close in a way that I just couldn’t bring myself to do.

How to get the best photographs during your church wedding

The wed­ding cer­e­mony itself is obvi­ously the very heart of your wed­ding day. Con­sider how you want it recorded and what type of pho­tographs you want to look back on in years to come. If you do decide on an unplugged pol­icy make it extremely clear to your guests both ver­bally and in the order of ser­vice but above all, what­ever you decide, try to work with your pho­tog­ra­pher to help them to do their very best for you and to allow them to do the job you have paid them for!

Light­works Pho­tog­ra­phy Cam­bridge — fur­ther information

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