Although photographers do get ample opportunity to consult with couples about their wedding schedules, portrait ideas, and tips for getting great photos, we rarely get to advise guests on this matter. If you’re at a wedding, it’s because you’re important to the couple, and most photographers do try to get each guest in at least one picture. The photos are as much about you guys as they are about the bride and groom.
So guests, listen up. This post is for you. Here are ten tips for how YOU can help us get the best wedding photos possible.
1. Most of the time, you are not in the way. You’re either doing something we want to photograph, or you’re framing someone else quite nicely. Please don’t worry about moving “out of the way” unless we’ve asked for you to. Let us be stealthy and move around you; you just keep partying.
2. If you’d like a portrait or group shot taken, just ask! There is usually extra time for shots like this during the reception.
3. Please, put your camera down and enjoy the event. During the ceremony particularly, don’t step in front of the photographer, and absolutely do not turn your flash on during the processional. I’ve had at least three weddings where the very best shot of the bride and her dad was ruined because of a guest’s flash. I also recently missed a cake cutting shot because a guest reached over to put their camera directly in front of my lens (I’m talking maybe 2 inches away). I always take a lot of extra photos, and most of the time I have a second photographer helping with main events, so we can usually work around these issues. But it would be really, really nice if we never had to. These are things that only happen ONCE, and it’s important that we get them right. The best thing you can do for the couple’s photos is to remain engaged with what is happening. Put your camera away for a few minutes and smile with them. (And by all means, once the main events are done, feel free to shoot away.)
4. Family needs to stay on the scene after the ceremony. Please don’t escape to the reception until you’re sure you’re not needed for group shots. Having to chase down a renegade cousin can really delay the family photos (and then the couple’s portraits, which generally follow them).
5. If you drink or smoke at the wedding, it will probably be documented. I only write this because I know some wedding guests may be extra cautious due to their jobs or other situations. If you don’t want people to see pictures of you doing something, it’s best not to do it. That said, if you see a photo posted online that you’d like to have removed, just ask. We will always try to accommodate you.
6. YES, you can order the photos! Each of my couples gets a private online gallery for viewing and ordering prints, which they are welcome to share with guests. Most weddings take 6-8 weeks to complete, and then you can ask the bride or groom for the password and order away!
7. Please do talk gear with us! I know a lot of wedding guests are into photography themselves and may wonder what we’re doing with our equipment or how we’re approaching certain aspects of the wedding day. I, for one, am always happy to discuss this stuff. It’s the best way to learn.
8. Be careful with those sparklers! I’ve never been burned, but I always get a little nervous during the sparkler exit. Please give us a little extra space during this time so we can shoot safely.
9. Help us out by pointing out important relatives and friends. We don’t always know who the main players are, especially if they aren’t included in the wedding party or family shots. If someone has a special kinship with the bride and groom you think they’d want it documented, you’re probably right. Let us know!
10. Facebook with us! We love it when you share, tag, like, and comment on the wedding photos on Facebook. It is one of the primary ways many photographers advertise their businesses online. Please, keep it up! And using one of the wedding shots as your profile or cover picture is a great compliment.