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How to Shoot Weddings when Surrounded by Guests’ Cell Phones

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As you prepare for each wedding shoot, you charge your batteries, pack your gear, and review the timeline. Once you arrive to the wedding, you may realize there was one thing you forgot to prepare for – guests who are eager and ready to use their cell phones to take photos. With the constant rise in technology, it is very common to see guests using their cell phones or tablets to take photos during the wedding day. Somewhere in your archives, you most likely have an image of a guest standing in your shot. While this may be a frustrating experience, it is your job to keep a smile on your face, act professional, and find ways to capture the important moments without allowing the guests to distract you.

Guests are likely to take photos for the same reasons you are – they want to capture the moments of the day. Remember, the guests were invited from the bride and groom – these guests have personal connections with the couple, which is why this day is so special to them. Even though the guests are not getting paid to take photos, knowing that they have the memories documented is significant. Here are some tips to help you shoot weddings and capture the most important moments when surrounded by guests’ cell phones.

Keep the Aisle Clear

The ceremony is a common time for guests to want to stand in the aisle and take photos. They are excited to capture significant moments, such as the bride and groom’s first official kiss as husband and wife. Before the ceremony, connect with the officiant and ask him or her to make a polite announcement addressing this. Encourage guests to take photos that they can later share with the bride and groom; however, have the officiant kindly explain the importance that the guests stay in their seats and not venture into the aisle. By addressing that it is okay (and encouraged) for guests to take photos during the ceremony from their seats, they will not feel as if you are telling them that they cannot take any photos.

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Related: Don’t miss out on the most important shots to take during the wedding ceremony

Take Control of Family Formals

During family formals, it is typical that guests will want to take some pictures of the various combinations that you are setting up. While it may not be a problem for guests to take these photos, the pain point occurs when the members within the family look at a guest’s cell phone rather than your camera. It can be natural for the family to look at the guests, because they are friends or familiar faces.

Remember, when it comes to the photos taken on the wedding day, you are in charge. Rather than telling guests that they are banned from taking photos during this time, make it a positive experience for everyone. Instruct the family to direct their attention to you and your camera. If you notice that a certain family member is looking in another direction, kindly ask them to direct their attention to you. By verbalizing that you need everyone to look at you, you are showing the bride and groom that you understand the importance of these images – you are also allowing guests to capture their perspective on the family photo as well.

If guests are insistent that they take photos, politely ask them to stand a certain distance behind you. By placing guests farther behind you, it will help the family focus their attention on you, rather than at the guests.

Tip: If you have a second shooter, this is a great time to have them help you out to ensure that family formal photos go smoothly. Have them stand next to you and quickly look at each family member to ensure their gaze is locked on your camera. This will help to speed up the process and you can focus on shooting.

Related: Follow these 5 tips to produce stunning family formal portraits

Encourage Photos During the Reception

While it can be challenging to work around guest photographers during certain events, such as the ceremony or family formals, the reception is one of the better times for guests to take photos! Usually, there is more space at the reception location, and there are several angles to capture each of the reception events from. Because of this, suggest to guests that they take their photos of the bride and groom during this time.

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For example, if you are taking a family formal photo and some guests are trying to capture the same family combination as you, suggest that they wait to recreate this during the reception. Not only will they have more time, but they can add additional members to the photo as well! To ensure that the guests know you are trying to assist them, let them know that you would be happy to help them achieve this photo during the reception – and even include them in the shot too! Furthermore, you can also tell them that you can take the picture using their phone. By offering this, the guests know that you are interested in helping them achieve a shot that is important to them.

Remember, wedding guests use their phones and tablets to take photos because they want to be able to cherish the memories and experiences of the day. As a professional, it is your job to ensure that you are not only delivering a great product to the bride and groom (which has been color corrected by a photo editing company), but that you are also providing a positive experience to everyone present at the wedding. If the bride and groom are your ideal clients, there is a chance that some of the guests may be your ideal clients too – this is why it is so important to always make a good impression. For additional ways to create positive connections, download our Guide, How to Grow your Wedding Photography Business!

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