Be Present and Experience Life

As guests entered the wedding, a sign requesting they turn off cell phones, cameras, and other devices welcomed them to the unplugged ceremony. When the bride made her grand entrance, all of the guests stood up and cell phones came out from every corner. As she made her way down the aisle, two guests stepped to the center behind her for a better shot, temporarily blocking my view as well as the videographer’s.

Every so often, I see posts and blogs from wedding photographers about how inconsiderate guests can be at weddings. One went viral not too long ago and was all over social media. However, I learned long ago that this has simply become part of the modern times, and it’s my job as a professional to honestly document events as they happen. Sometimes that may even mean a few photos have cell phones in them.

I’ve learned to accept it and work around it, while always remaining courteous to the guests. Of course, I want the best photos possible and I never want to miss a moment. But I always want to be respectful of the guests invited by the couple. Besides as a photojournalist, I had to work around TV news crews and other media outlets all the time. Trust me, if you learn to navigate that, then you can work around a few wedding guests with cell phones.

In most cases, guests are not intentionally attempting to get in the way. We have become spoiled by technology. We have powerful cameras at our fingertips and we use them frequently. More photos are being taken today than at any other time in history. We all want that instant gratification of looking back at a photo and posting immediately to social media.

When my family and I go to Disney World, I’m standing right there next to the Photo Pass photographer at the character meet and greets, taking my own photos. Recently I ordered prints from our spring trip to the Magic Kingdom, and it was like I wasn’t even there. Since I was behind the camera, they were mostly of Spencer and his mom. It brings up memories of my own childhood photos, where my dad wasn’t present. Only in his case, it wasn’t because he was the one taking the photo.

See, the thing is, when we experience life through a screen or viewfinder, we’re not really experiencing life. Trust me! I’ve hidden behind a camera for years, and I’ve watched some pretty major life events unfold through my viewfinder. From proposing to my wife, to the birth of our son, I documented it all. I was behind the camera in those times because I wanted the photographic memories. Now it’s great to look back on those photos, but it would’ve been nice to fully experience those moments by being fully present.

A screen adds a barrier between us and what’s happening. We are there, but detached as if watching a TV show. One of the saddest things I have seen at a wedding is a mother sitting in the front row, watching and recording every second through her phone. She may cherish that video for years to come, but putting down the phone and being fully present in the moment will offer a much greater connection to that memory than any cell phone video ever will.

Contact me today if you would like more information about having an unplugged wedding or tips for your wedding day.