by David Rucker, wedding photographer
An unplugged wedding is where electronic equipment such as phones and cameras are banned. Going unplugged can be for the entire wedding, or certain parts: for example the ceremony or reception, allowing only the professional photographer unrestricted access in order to capture those special moments.
Imagine the throwing of the confetti shot – which is one of the classic images that brides and grooms anticipate most when viewing the wedding images. As a professional photographer you’ve just got in the prime position, quickly adjusted the settings ready to fire off a burst of frames to capture the moment perfectly. Then, out of nowhere, good old Uncle Bob steps out with his compact point and shoot, blocks your way and the moment is lost forever. This could be applied to lots of other scenarios, but I guess you get the picture, even if the bride and groom didn’t quite get theirs.
On top of this are some guests racing to be the first to post images all over social media. This can take the edge off from a bride and groom’s perspective in terms of anticipating the pictures and the impact the images then have when first viewed. This anticipation on seeing the pictures for the first time is something many couples returning from honeymoon really look forward to.
Take Uncle Bob’s confetti image: it may look OK on screen, even if it’s not properly exposed and a little bit blurry, but it may well pixelate if blown up to anything bigger than a small 6x4 print. Meanwhile, your image of Uncle Bob’s back with the bride and groom obscured was perfectly exposed, tack sharp and can be blown to large sizes (even poster-sized prints)… if a picture of his back and comb-over is your thing!
I guess there are at least two sides to the story. Certain couples distribute good old-fashioned disposable film cameras and encourage guests to take pictures in the hope that their guests will capture some great images. Whilst other couples like a documentary-style approach where the professional photographer discretely shoots away, attempting to capture everything – even if this means getting a great picture of Uncle Bob’s back, but from a distance.
There definitely is a growing trend where couples are embracing the whole stripped-back, unplugged approach and simplifying the whole wedding process. So what about my own views? Well, the clients’ preferences always come first and I always work within these parameters, however I do feel that there is a need for guests to be a bit more respectful for the “end product” – especially during the key moments.
At one wedding there were far more people trying to get the confetti shot than actually throwing it, and I really felt for the couple as guests were not fully engaging in their big day. Couples often spend a considerable time choosing their photographer including lengthy pre-wedding consultations on the key images they want. Photoshopping confetti into an image is not my thing, whereas capturing the key moments are.
On more than one occasion, couples have been annoyed when their key moments were ruined by someone with little experience and knowledge versus someone who undertakes regularly training, with a high level of technical ability to shoot under a variety of conditions. Perhaps going unplugged will make guests think twice about getting in a photographer’s way, as it’s often when everyone is relaxed that the magic happens, rather than feeling you are part of a paparazzi crowd covering a public event!
Another trend which is making a mini-renaissance is having some family group shots – and I personally feel that these are a key ingredient and record of the day when looking back many years later. No-one really likes staged group shots but when done in a relaxed and informal way the results are worth it. The worst thing again with these type of shots is if there are too many cameras vying with the photographer resulting in some eyes looking at one camera and some at another. The key to these shots is speed, making them look more natural, less staged and ensuring that during the process distractions are kept to a minimum.
A wedding album is often referred to as the couple’s first family heirloom and perhaps the question every bride and groom needs to ask is simply this: When we show our grandchildren these images years down the line, what do we want them to see?
Whatever your answer will determine your approach to the style of photographer you choose, and whether or not to hold an unplugged wedding day.
See davidruckerphotography.co.uk for more photos by David.
• Photos by David Rucker Photography