Unplugged Wedding? No Way! Plug in!

With wedding season in full swing I have been seeing a lot of blogs pop up about “unplugged weddings”. Here is one from the Off Beat Bride and another popular post from Ohio photographer Corey Ann (who I know through social media and mutual friends and is a great photographer and we generally agree on everything industry related – except this.) Corey’s post was picked up by the Huffington Post and many others and has been making the rounds in the photographer circles for a while now. A great article and worth a read, however, I disagree with it 100%. Every time I see a post about how great it would be to be at an “unplugged wedding” I cringe. Great for who?! The photographer? I guess. Certainly not the guest that wishes they could be instagramming your big day!

This is 2013. Technology is everywhere. It makes things easier, we can’t live without it and we all love to take photos and share them. The thing that irks me the most about most of these articles, is that it makes it sound like the professional photographer (such as myself) cannot function or capture images from your wedding, or the images will not be as good, if guests are allowed to use cameras and cell phones. Some photographers even put in clauses in their contracts saying “guest may not take photos” or something to that effect. Whenever I do anything for my business, I first look at it from a consumer point of view. How is the customer experience, how would I feel if this happened to me, etc. When talking unplugged weddings, as a client, I’d be annoyed if anyone tried to tell me I couldn’t snap some photos on my phone at a friend or family members wedding. Even more so if the photographer – who as much as we like to think we are so very important, the fact is we are simply a vendor at the event – told me to move out of the way or to stop taking photos. I could NEVER imagine telling someone to do that. Ever.

It is our job as photographers to get the image no matter what. Someone steps in our way? Move.

Flash from a camera messing up your photo, well, that’s why my camera shoots 8 frames a second. I’ll have 7 other images to choose from – like this one where the audience flash made the photo look even better – and chances are, my flashes will screw up their images more than the other way around. I feel bad about that! During the ceremony, for the most part, the guests can’t move. I can. I can find another angle, I can move to the right or left I can kneel down or stand high, I have many options at my disposal to capture the images I am being paid (a lot of money) to capture. That is my job. It is my job as a photojournalist to read body language and know when someone is going to step in front of me. It is my job to know where the “action” is. It is my job to capture every moment as it happens and I don’t mind one bit if 100 other people are doing the same.

The guests are there to have fun and to celebrate the couple. They are there to live in the moment. In this day in age, living in the moment includes capturing every second with images and video clips with smart phones and ipads. I have zero problem with this. In fact, I encourage it. Embrace it. It’s not changing. Be creative with it! I have seen couples lately instead of asking guests to put the phones away, annoucing to everyone to please take photos and use hashtags on Instagram to share throughout the day. I LOVED it. I even shot a bunch of instagrams of the bride and groom with my iphone to add to the feed. Many ended up in the album. As a photographer, it even challenges me to be more creative. Heck now 100 people are using camera phones to capture every minute of the day, I better be able to make better iphone and regular images than they do. I’m the pro! Sometimes they give me great ideas or things to try or things I’d never even think of doing. Sometimes the guest images are better than mine and that’s ok! I love that they are getting people involved in creative ways and that everyone is having a great time doing it. I have seen cell phone charging stations setup at weddings. What a great idea so people don’t run out of juice! The list goes on and on.

Another thing I saw this week, that I absolutely love, is a company called Switchcam. They have a free app which allows your guests to upload video clips they have shot at your wedding and it creates an edited video clip of your day. Now, this in no way replaces a professional videographer, but is a very innovative way to see your wedding from the eyes of your guests. Check them out. Yet another great way to get your guests involved in your day. So I say, plug in your wedding and don’t worry about people watching you through a little LCD screen. They are having just as much fun (and probably more) documenting the memory as they would if they didn’t have a phone in hand.

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23 Responses to “Unplugged Wedding? No Way! Plug in!”

  1. Angee Ferris Says:

    Craig, you have helped me see the light! Awesome points. Can we at least strike some kind of balance, decorum, MUST NOT DO about guests stepping into the aisle when the bride is processing, though??? That is the one time I really have trouble. I am so focused on the bride and trying to stay out of the photog’s (if I’m video) or the videog’s (if I’m the photog) way as well as giving the groom the room he needs to enjoy the moment. All that seriously cramps the available angle, and don’t you know it – too many times for me to think about without a stomachache – a guest with a P&S or cell phone will step right out into my shot. and stay there. Yes, I work around them, but did I miss a happy tear? Did I miss a loving look to her father? Did I miss a wink to her groom? Maybe, maybe not…but I would prefer to at least have those opportunities. For the rest of the day, though…I LOVE your take on it!!!!!

  2. Craig Mitchelldyer Says:

    To me, those things, don’t matter. It is what it is. It’s our job to make images no matter what. If we miss something, we miss it. We can’t be everywhere and we can’t prevent these things from happening. We just have to do our job and make images they will remember, regardless of the circumstance.

  3. Angee Ferris Says:

    True, true… We are only human and it’s all part of the day. BUT, I still will leap for joy a little bit inside when I see the aisle-end of the pews blocked off with ribbon or tulle. ;)

  4. A different view to the unplugged wedding | The Creative Orange Says:

    [...] Read the whole article on his blog HERE [...]

  5. Mandi Wiley Says:

    Craig! Thank you for writing this! It always worries me when photographers and couples ask that no one take photos- it would be so devastating if something ended up happening to all the professional photos and on top of that- instagram is so fun! :)

  6. Craig Mitchelldyer Says:

    I love instagram!

  7. Perfect Memory Events Says:

    Craig, You are absolutely right about having everyone being able to enjoy the day and their are always way’s of getting the job done like you explain. When someone requests a bad song, but promises to dance to it, I always manage a way to fit it in and please the guest and still maintain the dance floor.

  8. Unplugged Wedding?! No WAY! Plug In! » My Portland Photographer – Portland Oregon Wedding Photographer Says:

    [...] With wedding season in full swing I have been seeing a lot of blogs pop up about “unplugged weddings”. Check out my latest blog post on the subject…I say, no way! Plug your wedding in! [...]

  9. Kris Says:

    Awesome! Then you will have everyone looking at their camera posting crap pictures to FB as you are getting married. PERFECT!!

  10. Craig Mitchelldyer Says:

    Ha. Well that’s what people like to do now-a-days.

  11. Daniel Nedelcu Says:

    Craig, I love to see I’m not the only one who thinks this way! I wrote about this a while ago – http://www.nedelcuphotography.com/why-you-should-have-an-unplugged-wedding/

  12. Craig Mitchelldyer Says:

    great stuff!

  13. Bethany Says:

    I can definitely see both sides of the plugged v. unplugged. I prefer the idea of an unplugged ceremony but I absolutely love guests snapping pictures tweeting/facebooking/instagramming during the reception!

  14. Stuart Dyckhoff Says:

    Bravo sir.

    I love this take and the key thing that most unplugged fans seem to miss is when the pro ‘screws the pooch’ for whatever reason. In the last 5 or so years I’ve been asked if I have any album worthy images for the happy couple because something happened to the pro’s versions.

    It happens and having something rather than nothing would I suspect be the preferred answer of the happy couple.

  15. Why Plugged-In Weddings Don’t Bother This Photographer » My Portland Photographer Says:

    [...] us, we like to find ways to use guests’ electronics to our advantage, as I further explained in this blog post about NOT having an unplugged wedding. For example, at this San Jose wedding last month, we caught the flash of a camera in the crowd and [...]

  16. Our 13 Favorite Wedding Photos of 2013 | Portland Photographer Blog - Mitchelldyer Photography - Portland Oregon Photographer Craig Mitchelldyer Says:

    [...] see a lot of noise about “unplugged” weddings and I’ve blogged about how I think you should have a plugged in wedding and this picture is a perfect example of why. The light from this photo is the flash of a person in [...]

  17. Lace and Light » My Portland Photographer Says:

    [...] and this little bit of cell phone light created a beautiful image. We previously wrote a post about plugged-in weddings and why we love them on our blog. And, here is another example of a moment where a guest’s flash helped us light [...]

  18. Melissa Sweet Says:

    Thank you!

    I am so tired of seeing Brides propagating this “unplugged” wedding crap they have seen all over Pinterest, and subjected their guests to condescending, poorly written poems all because some photographers are claiming that it’s an issue for them.

    I’m tired of seeing that Corey Ann article linked everywhere. . . most of those images look like they were manipulated in Photoshop to appear more washed out than they actually are.

  19. Craig Mitchelldyer Says:

    Photographers are generally very self serving. the wedding is not about them! Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the comment!

  20. Trevor Britton Says:

    So you say unplugged weddings only exist to benefit the photographer?
    And it should be a plugged in wedding to make the guests happy?

    Where do the interests of the bride and groom come in? If i don’t want people staring at their phones during the ceremony, why shouldn’t i say no? If i dont want less than flattering pictures during the ceremony online, why shouldn’t i say no? If i want my guests to be a part of the ceremony and not an observer playing amateur photographer why shouldn’t i have an unplugged wedding.

    The unplugged side, as i see it, is the most bride and groom friendly. As long as photographers mention they have an unplugged policy (none i have looked into do) then its fine and open. It should be up to the bride and groom to decide though. The plugged in side seems to only care about the interests of the guests. A sort of “how dare they not let me use my phone for an hour! Don’t they know i know what’s best?”

    Just not very friendly. If the bride and groom want an unplugged wedding, guests should respect that. If they don’t thats cool too.

  21. Craig Mitchelldyer Says:

    I agree. I think I even said, it’s the their day, they can do whatever they want. I don’t care either way. My angle is that us photographers should not be pushing it because it’s not about us. It’s about the couple. It is their day to do whatever they want.

  22. Trevor Britton Says:

    My apologies then. Must’ve skipped over that part on accident.

    And i agree with that sentiment.

  23. Lorren Repton Says:

    I couldn’t agree more but I do see both sides of the coin here. The bride AND groom have the right to request whatever they want for THEIR day. But if they really want a “plugged in” wedding, they should head over to a company the is Socializing Weddings, One #tweetheartus at a Time! Social Weddings R Us offers everything for an engaged couple to be fully plugged in … live tweeting, instagraming, Vine, streaming, crowdsource mashup …

    Awesome service for as a Social Media Wedding Concierge …

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