Photo Etiquette for Guests

Photo Etiquette for the Wedding Guests

Common Sense Rules for the Amateur Shooter


Now more then ever guests are coming to the wedding with the idea of playing amateur photographer on the big day.  It is becoming more important that the bride and groom express their expectations for guest photography etiquette during the ceremony and reception.


Here are a few tips for your guests that will keep your wedding day free from some common guest faux pas as well as help your friends and family get the most out of photographing your wedding.  Many common mistakes and issues can be taken care of by giving guests clear instructions.


Turn your flash on and off at appropriate times.  There is a time and a place for flash photography. Most guests will take all of their pictures with the flash settings turned on.  Take some time before the wedding to learn how to use your flash manually.  This will allow for great shots that capture the natural light without being a distraction.


For outdoor events, however, flash is the best choice.  This can help with unwanted shadows or can assist when the evening makes the flash necessary. During the ceremony however it is preferred that there is no flash photography from guests.  It can cause problems for the videographer and the hired photographers’ cameras.


Document the wedding, don’t become the center of it.  While changing your vantage point can lead to better pictures it can also get you in trouble.  Often guests can become caught up in the moment and forget that the purpose of the wedding is the ceremony and not their perfect shot.  Some guests become aggressive or excited and will walk onto or behind the ceremonial alter.  Some guests will shoot from the center of the aisle or over the professional’s shoulder even jostling for position with others in hopes of getting the best picture.


Guests should make sure to be aware of their surroundings, and if their actions are becoming a distraction or they get in the photographers way, they should change course.  If you do find yourself shoulder to shoulder with the hired photographer simply ask if you’re in the way.  A little courtesy can go a long way to creating good will between you to the hired professional.  He may even be willing to teach you a few technical tips.


Respect the formal portrait time line.  The formal posed pictures can be a good photo opportunity for guests and are still an important part of the wedding day for the bride and groom.  Remember that the couple and family need to be focused.  Please step back and give everyone the space they need to do their job.  Also, many couples are on a tight schedule for formal pictures.  When guests jump in and organize additional group pictures or direct people to look at them it can cause unnecessary stress and delay.   Guests should recognize and respect the fact that couples want to stay on schedule, and should adjust their photo taking agenda accordingly.


The best plan as a guest is to try creating pictures that will preserve your memories and emotions from the wedding.  By using your flash correctly, moving your camera and your body into unique spots, and giving other photographers and guests some space you will help create an enjoyable wedding experience and you will begin to see the wedding from a whole different point of view.  Remember, your creativity just might surprise you.


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