Enthusiastic Wedding Guests at Lake Placid Club, NY
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Enthusiastic Wedding Guests at Lake Placid Club, NY

During this destination wedding at the Lake Placid Club in upstate New York, we documented these wedding guests photographing bridesmaids as they entered the reception hall.

Photography has been alluring for over 100 years, ever since cameras became accessible to the masses, but technological advances in digital cameras, especially those in cell phones, have allowed nearly everyone to get in on the fun. We frequently hear statistics on the news that the current generation is by far the most photographed in history and that more images have been created in the last five years than the rest of human history combined. For those of us who already love documenting life, we embrace this trend wholeheartedly and participate in it, even when our professional cameras are not with us. Em’s Instagram account dates back years, documenting work trips, personal vacations, everyday life, the behind-the-scenes parts of our business, and especially our cat Stannis. Keeping our personal Instagram accounts exclusively “iPhone only” helps us express that what we do relies much more on our artistic eyes than it does our equipment. 

When guests use personal cameras and cell phones to document the day, the results are both positive and negative, depending on when and how they decided to become event photographers. We consider times like the one depicted in this image positive occurrences as they benefit us and everyone involved. We get a funny photo the offers us a chance to reflect on how we lean, stand, and crouch all day, hopefully doing so more elegantly than the the ladies did here. They also get an easily accessible photo they can send to friends immediately and the bridesmaids’ potentially get yet another image of them looking stunning. Another positive aspect of these amateur photographers is that they may want a photo of a specific group of people that the bride and groom may not have included on their list of formal photos. If people start lining up guests for a cell phone shot, we will gladly hop right behind them for the same image. Our thoughts are that if someone wanted a simple, posed photo of a small group of people somewhere, we might as well take five to ten seconds and use our gear, lighting, personalities and experience to create a more professional version of what they are able to get on their own. 

When guests try to document the day on their own, there are some drawbacks, many of which are related to the ceremony. We have an image that we took in a famous Palm Beach church showing nearly all of the 100 people in the frame watching the bride and groom exit their ceremony through the screens on their phones. This is an extreme example of what happens during nearly all ceremonies, often times involving people integral to the proceedings. Most of our couples are well aware of this going into their nuptials and frequently ask us for advice on keeping people focused on the actual wedding day and not letting them get distracted by their phones. We like to point out that no matter how great of a shot your phone can take, what is directly in front of you and visible to your naked eyes is the ultimate in the high definition experience. A wedding is one of the few events that occur in today’s society where we all get together to experience and participate in something in person, so why would people want to spend the entire day watching reality through a tiny screen? Many wedding couples are bothered when instead of seeing happy faces during their exits, first dances, vows, or speeches they see blank expressions and eyes transfixed on screens. If they do not notice it as it is happening, they certainly notice later on when they see the photos we deliver. We document the day as it happens, and on more than one occasion a guest, or sometimes even a parent, appear in every image with a phone or tablet obscuring their face. Many officiants now begin the ceremony with a message directed not just to switch cell phones to silent, but keeping them out of guests’ hands so that everyone may be fully present and engaged in the most important part of any wedding day.

Since this overall trend of cell phone usage during weddings does not appear to be going away anytime soon, we work it into our images in a few different ways. One of our favorite approaches, one that we have shared with our photographer friends around the world, is to try and find those moments where we capture an image of someone taking a photo of someone else while they are snapping a photo of a third person who is simultaneously snapping a pic of a fourth person, and so on. Inspired by Christopher Nolan’s spectacular movie “Inception,” we like to see how many levels deep we can go, with our ultimate image being referred to as “the kick” since it reveals to everyone else exactly where they were in the sequence at that time. Once in downtown Miami, we were able to incorporate someone taking a picture of a mural that actually had someone taking a photo of someone else painted into it. Since these types of occurrences are now ubiquitous, we have decided to make a little game out of it to create a few comical images that other people may never have noticed.

Overall we don’t have an issue with guests taking photos of the wedding day except in a few very specific circumstances, most of which involve people blurring the lines between being an amateur and professional photographer. In certain major markets around the country, competition in the wedding photography field can be so intense that many professionals choose not to train the younger generations, even when they want to follow along for free. We have let plenty of people train with us, whether they be simply observing, assisting by carrying bags, or being a third shooter for parts of the day. There are specific parameters and guidelines discussed well in advance and a contract is signed by both parties to make sure everyone is on the same page. Since we control this in its entirety, we have not had any issues training other photographers, some of whom now have impressive studios of their own. The potential problem with guests is that if someone is an aspiring photographer and they choose to follow us around all day attempting to copy our images right behind us and then try to use those in their eventual portfolio. That is disrespectful to us as professionals, but also completely misleading to anyone who might book this future “professional”, as the images on they've taken for their portfolio imply that the client chose to hire them for the even, when in fact they were an invited guest. This has not been an issue with us personally; we have managed to have discussions well in advance when clients have expressed concerns about certain friends and family members who may cause issues during the day. We do hear stories from people who encounter these situations frequently and see the damage that can result and the ripples it sends throughout the industry.

Location: Lake Placid Club, 88 Morningside Dr, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

1/160; f/2.8; ISO 250; 27.0 mm.

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