Cameras at weddings

I’ve been making a few changes to my website recently and going back to some of the weddings I photographed a few years ago. On a wedding day, it’s quite usual to see loads of the guests taking their own photos. You always see cameras at weddings. What struck me most though, was how quickly the camera device being used has changed.

The two photos here are nothing special and I wouldn’t normally post this sort of shot, but for illustration purposes, they work quite well. The first one was from the end of 2008, so just over eight years ago. You can see eleven compact cameras but not one smartphone.

cameras at weddings

guests photographing the signing of the register, Lympne Castle, Nov 2008

Now compare this first cameras at weddings shot with the next one taken a month ago. No compact cameras, but nine iPhones/smartphones. What does this actually tell us? Maybe not much. Technology moves on. I’m not claiming that this a definitive study into the general public’s camera habits, but it does highlight the fact that these devices are out there and are with us all the time. For a lot of us, they are good enough. We now have a device that’s totally portable and acts as recording device, gives us access to a range of communication platforms, a diary, a media player…I could go on and on. If your feeling old school, you can even make a phone call too.

cameras at weddings

guests photographing the signing of the register, Penshurst Place, Dec 2016

I may have cherry-picked these two photos to illustrate a point. I did come across lots of other photos from this situation where the guests were using compact cameras, SLRs, smaller mirrorless cameras and even iPads. Why would you bring an iPad to a wedding???

I always find it funny how it’s two particular occasions when the cameras come out. It’s usually because a registrar or toastmaster have told them there’s a great photo opportunity coming up. In Kent, where I photograph a lot of civil ceremony weddings, the registrars are usually quite accommodating with where I stand and what I photograph and for me, that’s all good. But when it comes to signing the register, they always say that the signing shot will be set up afterwards. For someone that likes to work in an observational way, I usually photograph the signing from a distance. Despite what the registrars may think, I’m not interested in seeing anything that has been written in the register. Once the actual signing has taken place, they usually get the couple to pose for a cheesy shot to camera. The rest of the guests are often invited up to photograph this shot after I’ve done mine. I’m always surprised at how many people come forward. If there’s a bunch of them coming up, I usually turn my camera on them to get this shot too.

Later on in the day, the next ‘Kodak moment’ for the guests is the cutting of the cake. Again, a fairly dull, cheesy shot photographically but one that seems inherently ingrained in the formality of a wedding day.

I often wonder how many of these shots that people take ever get seen by the couple themselves? If guests are using cameras at weddings to photograph the signing of a register or cutting a cake, hopefully they would get to see them. If not, why would anyone want this photo for themselves. Maybe it’s just me? I’m sure lots of other stuff gets photographed too but I still find it odd that these two points in the day still get special attention.

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