Monday, 3 December 2012

Mobiles and Uncle Bobs at Weddings


As the old saying goes,
getting married is one of the most important days of your life....

Walking down the aisle or
waiting at the altar is meant to be a time to connect with family and friends to share the joy.
Imagine, then, being confronted by a sea of smartphones and cameras held in front of the faces of those you hold most dear.
The aisle littered with all manner of tech gadgets recording your every move, while Aunt Ruth stands reticent in the corner with her SLR and telephoto lens.

Our desire to document everyday life increases with each passing moment, so it's no surprise that it is becoming ever more difficult to separate our online existence from the real world.
We have always wanted to participate in a wedding by taking a photograph of the happy couple, but an increasing number of guests are using their own equipment — whether that's a smartphone or an actual camera — to document the day in a more extreme manner. Does this scene sound familiar to you?

I have noticed a trend in over-zealous guests going overboard with taking photos at weddings over the past 18 months. Thanks to the lower barriers to entry for owning an SLR, everyone has the potential to see themselves as a professional photographer.

"I am actually more aware of these guests, as they tend to interfere without realising it, as they have never shot a wedding before or worked alongside other professionals,"
"When there are already two videographers and two photographers at a wedding, adding a fifth person trying to get an angle can make things difficult for those hired to document the event."
Apart from getting in the way of the professionals who are hired to document the day, do potential brides and grooms want their guests to spend the whole day glued to a smartphone or camera screen rather than experiencing it first-hand?

Unplugged weddings.

Over the past few years, a new trend has started to emerge in wedding etiquette. Couples who are frustrated with their guests devoting more time to their smartphone screens rather than the day itself are now asking for "unplugged weddings".
It's a phenomenon where the bride and groom request that their guests leave their smartphones in their pockets or at home, holding back the temptation to share proceedings on social media as they happen.
This year I have had four Brides and Grooms request specifically ask for guests to avoid tweeting, Facebooking or Instagramming their wedding altogether, so that they can share their special moment with the rest of the world at a time of their choosing, not while they are still eating the wedding breakfast!
The worst I ever saw it was one guest who had come in late to the ceremony and promptly kneeled at the front of the couple in the aisle and just off to the side. She stayed there for over five minutes with her iPhone taking video, and I could see the stressed looks on the bride and groom's faces. I have also had guests literally shoot over my shoulder, and another who moved an unmanned camera on a tripod to get his shot,
Certainly, there are benefits of going "unplugged", which include your guests experiencing the event with their own senses rather than mediated through technology. But it's also to help control what the outside world sees. Managing social-media profiles is becoming increasingly important for anyone with an online presence.

Social media has created an addiction for many people to constantly be connected to their friends and family through the events they attend and the things they see.

So many people take photos just so they can post to Facebook, and not necessarily to have a captured memory. I think this is highlighted even more at a wedding, because the bride and groom may not consent to their guests posting photos online before they have had a chance to do so themselves.

Couples book us because of the high-quality wedding photographs we produce, so it's always a concern when someone not hired to document the event takes matters into their own hands ... one way for them to reach their guests about not bringing cameras or completely switching them off during the ceremony is to mention it on their invitations.

If it's too late for that, then the perfect way is to have the celebrant or priest make an announcement before the bride arrives.

Inevitably, it's up to the couple to decide just how they want their ceremony to pan out, with or without the aid of guests as photographers and video makers. But it's definitely safe to say that today's weddings look totally different from ceremonies held only 10 years ago, as we tweet, Facebook and Instagram our way through living memories.

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