I was standing in a beautiful little churchyard a couple of weeks ago, having found a lovely spot for a bride and groom portrait. While the bride and groom positioned themselves a guest came up and took a picture of them and then said to me:
“I hope you don’t mind. At the last wedding I took a photo and the wedding photographer told me off!”
This left me flabbergasted, I felt the need to apologise on behalf of all wedding photographers. Apart from the rudeness, no photographer has exclusive rights to the happy couple. A wedding is a time for friends and family and it’s only natural, especially in the digital age for everyone to take photographs, why wouldn’t they?
A guest at another wedding told me how he had been kept waiting for ages for a group shot, posed for it, went off to socialise and was then called back for another. Group shots can be quite difficult and some documentary style photographers refuse to do them all together. The secret is to have a list, a guest (often the best man or an usher) willing to gather people together and finally keep it quick so guests aren’t hanging around. I usually allow 20 minutes as a maximum and will have a location in mind to further cut down on time. You can read about my approach to group shots here.
To be honest as a documentary photographer I’m quite happy to observe an aunt organising a family group and photograph her whilst she does it. Reportage style wedding photography is very much about capturing people’s interaction and not dictating it.
As I discuss on my ‘how I work‘ page, my style is all about documenting your big day not running it, and certainly not being rude to your guests.