Friday, 24 June 2016

To snap or not to snap - when is it good wedding etiquette to take photos ?

Tommy Steele and Julia Foster in Half a Sixpence
‘Old it, flash, bang, wallop, what a picture!
The song from the Sixties musical and later the film “Half a Sixpence” goes on to explain that there has always been a photographer to “record the ‘appy scene”. 

The story,  set in the Edwardian era, tells us that photography has, since the beginning of time, played a crucial part in marriage ceremonies. And there’s no doubt that, even in today’s world of phone cameras and selfie sticks, wedding photography is still big business.

It seems to me that brides and grooms fall into two distinct camps on the topic of allowing their guests to take their own pictures - especially during the ceremony itself.

A few weeks ago “my” bride, who had chosen to hold her ceremony outside by a lake  in the grounds of a Norfolk country home, made her feelings clear. She wanted especially to feel close to nature as well as her loving friends and family.

“When I walk across the grass, on the arm of my father on my wedding day, I want to see the lovely faces of everyone looking towards me, not the backs of all their phones!”

Her groom added the valid point that it was a matter of being in the moment - looking, seeing and enjoying the moment itself, as opposed to recording it on the phone for later viewing which would, inevitably, destroy the magic of the here and now.

Aaron and Natalie take a selfie
At the introduction of the ceremony, I worded their wishes in an inoffensive way and  the only pictures taken of the ceremony and hand fasting were by a discreet professional photographer.

Every wedding is different and should reflect the wishes and personalities of the bride and groom. 

I have chosen to write about this because I believe it is something that those who are getting married must consider. To allow everyone to take photos of the wedding ceremony or to leave it up to the professional photographer, should be added to the Decisions-to-Make-List. It can no longer be a matter of just waiting and seeing what happens on the day.

From the point of view of the guest, it is also good to know where the  photography boundaries lie.

A beautiful wedding I attended - as a guest not the celebrant - had the guidelines clearly displayed on a notice. 

Hair and make up with a selfie stick
We were requested to help Natalie and Aaron to capture their special day by taking as many pictures as we liked and then shown how to post them on the WedPics App. 

This proved remarkably easy and a fun way to share everybody’s wedding experience. Like the old disposable cameras, this method is also a great social ice-breaker, but with the added advantage of providing instant results.

Getting your guests to share their wedding photos in no way detracts from the quality work of the professional photographer - a scroll through the blurred out of focus efforts of us amateurs confirms this.

I am also of the opinion that family and friends taking pictures of the ceremony itself is poor wedding etiquette. It is a distraction not only for the bride and groom, but also for other guests who might be sitting behind and so forced to view the proceedings via the back of someone else’s phone screen.

The ceremony, with its vows, blessings and special elements, is the very heart of the marriage celebration. Each and every moment of it should be experienced by all who have been invited as witnesses and savoured as the true stuff from which ‘photographic’ memories are made. 

Before signing off, I have to add a personal note: A few years ago I had the pleasure of sitting next to Julia Foster (who famously played the role of Ann in Half a Sixpence) and her husband veterinary surgeon and writer Bruce Fogle (parents of Ben) at a wedding. And, in case you're wondering. no, sadly I don't have a photo to share. Instead,  I'll leave the last word to the Half a Sixpence cast ...

Arthur Kipps and his bride Ann
All lined up in a wedding group
'Ere we are for a photograph
We're all dressed up in a morning suit
All trying hard not to laugh
Since the early caveman in his fur
Took a trip to Gretna Green
There's always been a photographer
To record the 'appy scene.....

'Old it, flash, bang, wallop, what a picture
What a picture, what a photograph
Poor old soul, blimey, what a joke
Hat blown off in a cloud of smoke
Clap 'ands, stamp yer feet
Bangin' on the big bass drum
What a picture, what a picture
Stick it in your fam'ly album

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