top of page

Unplugged Weddings

John Paul

7 min read

Oct 31, 2022

0

0

Originally Published in October 31 2022


I can’t recommend a better planning idea lately, than to have an "Unplugged Wedding".....at the very least, for the ceremony. Unplugging Weddings have become a trend in recent years, with custom signage to inform guests that the couple would prefer they don’t record/ photograph their wedding, and to leave those things up to hired professionals to cover the wedding.


Unfortunately, many guests take it upon themselves to pull out their cell phones, or iPads, or even bring their own camera equipment and try to capture memories, regardless if they are asked not to……..and are often directly interfering with my photography, which I am hired by the Bride & Groom to shoot. One reason for Unplugging is that they don’t want to have someone spoil the revealing of the photos they hired professionals to shoot. Most guests immediately post pics to their social media accounts, tag the couple in them….  etc…  and although they think they are doing a kind, thoughtful thing, they are often ruining the one thing the couple is looking forward to doing, which is to see the photos of their day, in the way they want them to be seen. In addition, they can often become a distraction when a hired photographer is taking a group photo, with some of the people in the group looking in the direction of the person who is sneaking over our shoulders to take their pictures. Years ago, I photographed my former business partner’s wedding, where his cousin took pictures from a distance behind me, while I was taking creative poses, and posting them to their social media accounts, posted some of them before the night was over, and even took credit for being their wedding photographer. Lets just say, that they weren’t very happy about that. At least that person kept their distance from us, and knew that they shouldn’t get in the way of our shots, unlike other people who totally ruin their memories…. This is exactly what happened in a recent wedding where I was hired via an agency. Had they hired me directly, this situation likely wouldn't have happened.


In addition to this being an agency client wedding, the couple hired a "Wedding Planner/" "Coordinator", who might have been a little in over her head, who had IMO some of the worst plans and advice I’ve ever heard coming from a paid wedding planner. She convinced the couple that they need to hire a crew of 3 photographers, and 2 videographers, in addition to telling the couple to have other guests bring their cameras along as "back-up"...  which I wasn't notified ahead of time, and had to deal with people who sometimes didn't yield the right of way, to ME, the Photographer hired to take the most important shots of their day. I think it is fair to say that given the choice, most couples wouldn't want to see a guest coming between me and them in the shots they are paying to have taken..  Unfortunately, they got to see "Aunt Karen" getting her pictures, who was apparently completely ignorant of basic photography rules that are unwritten, because most of society doesn't need to be talked to, like a 4 year old..........sigh..  


I have to basically direct the whole "orchestra" of the day,  and by default, I am typically the “conductor”, regardless if there is a hired coordinator or not. Many times, because they don't give much thought into their decisions that make results less than ideal, IMO.  If I/we screw up, there is no going back. I take what I do very seriously because it all comes back to my judgment when I press that shutter release button. Many years ago I watched a photography video from a professional photographer, who always said "Perfect Planning Permits Perfect Pictures"..  -Ken Marcus 


I couldn’t agree more.


Unfortunately, "Karen with the Camera" just had to take HER pictures.....and got in the shots of my crew..  The wedding was held at an outdoor location, where the Bride and her Father began the processional walk through a forested path, leading to an open field, where all the guests and wedding party were waiting to see The Bride, for the first time as she made her appearance, a short distance away..  The Photo Story of them walking together had the ability to be absolutely spectacular,………….But……   While still in the woods, either one of those 2nd hired shooters could have told "Karen" to G-T-F out of our shot!.........but they just allowed her to be in darn near all of their shots (inexperienced photographers, unlike the professionals I recommend for the role of 2nd shooters) Who knows.. Perhaps  they might have misunderstood her role to be  that of an additional 4th hired photographer at the last second. At times, Karen came in between our photos, sometimes directly in front of the couple, making our shots pretty much unusable. Sorry, but not everything is fixable in Photoshop! Yep, here she is snapping away with her little amateur kit camera with a slow, short zoom lens, that she likely bought on sale at Best Buy, which features a system introductory inexpensive kit lens, and a camera body featuring a pop-up flash, costing less than an imitation leather sofa... 


(Not to brag, but I own lenses worth more than a full leather furniture set..!!) The moment was a Once in a Lifetime event, where the FOTB is giving away his beautiful daughter in marriage. They begin their journey by walking together through a forested pathway, then entering an open field where the ceremony is located, where the Groom sees his wife to be, being escorted by her Daddy. This could have been an absolutely amazing photojournalistic story told with the help of two additional photographers who I directed to take up specific positions along the path, to capture their approach as well as their passing, without being in each other’s shots, before I would see them together at the trailhead. However, where they were not alone. They should have been, but Karen just had to take her *%#@$!! Pictures, and wouldn't step out of the way, even when I gestured to her to do so..  Oh no... “These are for my portfolio" she later told me.


Immediately after the ceremony, there was a makeshift "Receiving Line" that looked more like a "meatball", which was magically created because of the Wedding Planner/ Coordinator never considered a plan to avoid a spontaneous receiving line in this outdoor ceremony. Rather than announcing at the end of the ceremony that they will be taking family portraits, and for immediate family to stay there, while the rest could go and enjoy cocktails…  That would have been a good plan, but nope..! They got swarmed...       During this chaotic time, I find the couple was posing for photos with their young ring bearer, who was dressed in a very cute outfit, and was in very good spirits for a 4-year-old. Although I saw that the Bride and Groom had taken a good position to pose with him, there were 3 people, including "Aunt Karen" positioned directly in front of the small group, who blocked me from taking a quality shot, directly in front of the group..  I asked nicely if I could get in front too, so I could take a picture of them as well, while Karen and the other two were snapping away. “Karen" then turns to me and blurts out “You’ll have to wait your turn!”…..right in front of the couple..  I take a deep breath..  and wait… Shortly later, the kid is freaking out and crying………and now, it’s my turn, of course!  Thanks a lot, Karen..!!


I had a little Powwow with the couple after that.. while I was speaking with them, I heard myself being mocked by Karen for "bringing all that expensive camera equipment along"..  They then asked me to “just take a picture"...of this kid, who by now, is having a full blown temper tantrum..   I looked at the couple, and told them, I hope you are happy with the photos she gets.. because that kid is done. If you want to try something later on, after he has settled down a bit, great, but you need to get this lady out of here..  She is ruining your photos & video, which you paid a LOT of money for.. 


Fast forward…  a few weeks later, I get a message from the agency that tells me that the couple was very unhappy with the results of their wedding. Of course, they blame me for everything, not their wedding planner, or Karen, who was having a field day out there at their expense..  Oh no….  It’s entirely my fault, of course, and now they want a full refund, which they would never get..! Thankfully, when I turned in my images, I wrote a very detailed report about their poorly planned day.


After all that, I figured I’d look them up on Facebook, to see if they had posted any images from the wedding, which they did. I saw many. In fact, I even saw several that were taken by “Karen”, which all sucked by professional standards. Although everyone of them, from my eye, were absolutely crap, they were praised by everyone in the comments…who never criticized the horrible color balance, horrible focus, and exposure, motion blur from camera shake during exposure, as well as terrible shots of that child posed with the couple, from a wide-angled, inexpensive mush lens, and harsh pop-up flash lighting. Furthermore, the kid looked frightened in the photos. Children of that age shouldn’t be swarmed by fanatical family members and yelled at to “Look at the camera and smile”..! They need their space, a “comfort zone”.. like anyone else..!    There is a reason why one should go unplugged at a wedding, which is to avoid this, but some people, and their planners think differently. Furthermore, these photos were all tagged to the Bride the day of the wedding. I checked out Karen’s FB profile and recognized several photos that I shot, and submitted to the agency, were taken from the online gallery,  where she is now posting them, inferring that she is the author of those photos, not crediting me or the agency. Nope, Karen is using my professional photos to plug her own business, via false advertising, which is not only unethical, but illegal, and a total infringement of basic © Laws..!!  I sent her a message asking for an explanation to all this, which was received by me being blocked.  Go figure.. ;-) Judging by the looks of her photos, which looked obviously different than mine, that anyone would become suspicious of, I’m not afraid of her becoming a direct competitor.

John Paul

7 min read

Oct 31, 2022

0

0

bottom of page