Archive for October, 2013

Cell-phone-ography

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Alright, I know I’ll be aging myself with this post but here goes:

When I started as a professional photographer 13 years ago I never thought I’d be where I am today-a successful business specializing in weddings and families?!? I wanted to be a photojournalist (in the true sense of the word, not in that way people try and rename candids) working for a media outlet.

Then, a photographer in the same department in which I was working (for a newspaper at the time) invited me to shoot a wedding with him. I was hooked instantly. It was the best of everything: I got to make people feel beautiful, capture moments and emotions as they were happening; moments so real and raw that they almost brought you into the photo, and use natural light and stunning details to my advantage.

Now, were all the details stunning? No. Were all the couples nice to work with? Most, but not all. Were all the lighting situations ideal? Not even close. (Dark church at night, anyone? Yeah…). Did I agree with everything a couple wanted? Nope. But as a wedding photographer, it’s not my job to judge the couple, the details, the location, the timeline…my job; the one where I am entrusted to capture one of the most important days of a persons life, is to treat that wedding like it’s the most important one in the world. Because, to the couple that trusted me to photograph them, it is. I truly believe that; and in what I do.

I generally keep any complaints I have to myself-they’re not necessary to share and I’ve been doing this for so long, that it’s rare I can’t find a work around.

Except this one. After 13 years I need to get this one out there:

Tell your guests to put their camera phones down. (And the tablets as well, please).

This is going to sound harsh, but think about it: what are they (or you) going to do with those photos? After the excitement of sharing them on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram fades, what are you left with? Photos in poor light, harsh flash, blurry, unflattering (because don’t we all love those posted online?), and most importantly, probably not accessible to you. How many times have we seen people take photos of us, asked for those photos, and never see them again? All. The. Time. You want them for prints or an album? Eh, even if they’re sent to you, will they be a good enough quality to print or put in a photo book?

Here’s what you will get from call-phone-ography:

- Guests who hang waaaaaaay out in the aisle, blocking the photographer that you paid THOUSANDS of dollars for from getting a clear shot of you meeting your spouse to be. Very recently, I actually had a brides face blocked entirely in one of my photos of her coming down the aisle by an IPad. :-(

- The tops of heads or backs of your guests in your professional photos as they suddenly decide to stand up to take a priceless cell phone photo during important moments of your ceremony.

- That grand entrance you practiced? Not so much. This actually happened: One of my favorite brides designed a really creative grand entrance. We’re talking about lighting, personalized dances, smoke machines…and it looked great. Too bad it was ruined by someone who had to take a cell phone photo-he stood up, blocked me for an instant, and blocked their initial path making the whole thing just awkward for them.

Professional photographers will do our best to work around these people, we will…but we can’t combat all of them.

I came across this wonderful video on the Knot which is a perfect demonstration of what can happen as a result of cell-phone-ography.

There are plenty of ways to get around this: have your officiant make an announcement during the ceremony for guests to please put their phones down, or, provide good quality disposable cameras for guests (or some reason people are less aggressive with these) and set up a free Flickr account for guests to view these photos. Only you know what will work best for your friends and family, but this trend of cell-phone-ography has got to stop somewhere. How many more once-in-a-lifetime moments will be ruined by someone who had to get just that perfect instagram photo?