No piece of technology has ever been integrated into the very fabric of human lives in the way our phones have. For so many of us, phones are where we work and goof off and connect with friends and read the news, where we entertain and inform and connect. They’re often the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look at at night.
But Hannah Way, a Texas-based photographer who specialized in weddings, thinks we might be so addicted to our phones that we lose all common sense.
In a post that went viral earlier this summer, Way called out someone whose iPhone photography ruined a shot she was trying to take of a bride’s father walking her down the aisle.
“What exactly do you plan on doing with that photo?” Way asked the amateur photographer in her post. “Honestly. Are you going to print it out? Save it? Look at it everyday?”
She also implored wedding guests to “please stop viewing weddings you attend through a screen but instead turn OFF your phone and enjoy the ceremony.”
She had taken time to compose her shot, she explained to HuffPost Canada in an email — but, just as she was about to take the photo, just “as the dad was walking his daughter down the aisle, the phone immediately came out.” She was able to save her shot by stepping to the left. But she was frustrated.
“It’s very common for people to use their phones at a wedding,” she said. “People want to capture where they are and what they are doing all the time.”
The idea for a public post has been bubbling up for a while, she said. When this happened, she just snapped. And she’s heard from a lot of other people in her profession who share her frustration with amateur Instagram users: “Photographers around the world have reached out to me to tell me they deal with the same problem.”
The ceremony is “the most important part of the wedding day,” Way says. While the couple is actually getting married, there’s no reason to have a phone out. And there’s no way the photos you take will be better than the professional photographers.
Don’t take out your phone during the ceremony: wedding planner
Leslie Luu, the owner and chief planner at Elle Weddings in Vancouver, agrees. During the ceremony, you should “focus your attention on the moment and not on a piece of technology in your hands,” she told HuffPost Canada.
Way says she really hopes people don’t take photos at the ceremony at all. But if they do, in order not to disrupt, “they should stay seated and not put their phone in the aisle or above their head,” she said. In other words: be considerate.
A rise in ‘unplugged weddings’
One matrimonial trend from the last few years is the “unplugged wedding,” where guests are asked to put their phones away completely, either just for the ceremony or — in the case of the most hardcore couples — the reception as well. Way has photographed unplugged weddings before, and she says she loves them, both for her own sake and for the couple.
“It makes my job a lot easier when people don’t use their phones, and it’s amazing to see everyone fully present and enjoying the ceremony,” she said.
But couples might encounter some resistance from your guests, who may not appreciate having their behaviour dictated to. And even if the “unplugged” announcement is made in the invitation, or announced by the officiant, “you may have that person who will try their hardest to sneak a shot,” Luu said.
Experts agree: you can go nuts at the reception
Asking people not to use their phones at the reception might not be realistic, Luu said. “I don’t think it is possible to not use a phone for the later portion of the dinner.”
Even if people aren’t Instagramming, they’ll probably use their phone for something else. Weddings are unpredictable: sometimes the bride slips, or the groom cries, or a wedding ring gets lost.
“There will be boring moments or super exciting moments and guests would want to document or share it in some way,” she said.
Overall, it’s worth it to remember that there’s a professional photographer — and that if you ask the couple, they’ll likely share photos with you.
“Guests need to remember that they were invited to the wedding for a reason,” Way said. “They need to be respectful and put their phones away for the ceremony.”
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