To You With the Camera at a Wedding

July 6, 2016



Hey sweet friend,

I’ve been wanting to write to you for awhile. The thing is, our paths only seem to cross on the weekends and while Saturday strikes and I think of the words I’d love to deliver you, I forget throughout the week and fail to reach you… until now. Here’s the thing, I have so much to say to you, but I’m never quite sure how to deliver it, because I see you and I know your intentions are pure. So first, just listen to my side, maybe you’ll rethink grabbing out your iPhone or packing your DSLR for your next time you get to witness a precious round of “I dos!” As our generation becomes the most photographed generation on the planet, we have become obsessed with documenting everything: from the minute we wake up to what we eat for dinner, our lives are shared with the world and while it’s a joy – it’s also become a big problem.

You might not know it, but I’m always looking for you at my weddings. You blend in so well, try to appear inconspicuous, but as I start at the front looking into the crowd, I am trying to pinpoint your whereabouts and plan how I can work around you. Wait, you didn’t realize that what you do impacts me? It does. So while you’re positioning yourself in an aisle seat and clinging to that camera before the bride rounds the corner, I am coming up with action plans in my head. Here’s what you don’t realize: as the professional photographer, we are given guidelines. We can’t use flash, we need to stay put and out of the way, and we must remain discreet while delivering the BEST photos to our clients. So I am sure you can imagine the shock when you’re flashbulbs go off and suddenly our settings are wonky because we had no clue you were ready to strike.

I’ve watched mothers miss their daughters walking down the aisle, I’ve seen grandma’s hiding behind the glowing screen of an iPad, and I’ve witnessed so many moments that were missed simply because someone was scrolling through their camera roll to check out “the shot.” I don’t know everything, but here’s  few things I do know: you, my friend, were invited as an honored guest. The couple didn’t invite you out of obligation or because you know how to use Instagram, they genuinely wanted your presence at their day. Whether you’re their college bestie, you used to babysit them and you have horror stories, or you’re their next door neighbor – I’d like to bet that they would far rather see your smiling face than what iPhone you have. So while you’re doing your best to document that precious aisle moment that they’ve probably been dreaming of for months (even years) their professional photos (the ones they will probably hang in their home) will not be of your sweet face but of your phone screen and determined look as you try to nail a Facebook worthy photo – which, let’s be honest, your photos probably aren’t turning out that great anyway.

When I am hired to do my job, my couples are investing in me and trusting me. Trust isn’t something I choose to take lightly, so I will go to the ends of the earth to deliver them the photos they’ve been dreaming of. I can tell you a few things:  they didn’t dream of looking out into the aisle and seeing you (and ten of your posse) leaning in and holding out your phone in an attempt to be “discreet” and they definitely didn’t envision professional photos with all sorts of screens glowing in the background. When I see you, I feel a little sad, because here I am, a work horse ready for battle and there you are throwing away an opportunity to be fully present for the very people who requested your presence.

What I don’t want you to hear is this: I am not a bitter photographer who is worried about you stealing my job, not in the least. In fact, I respect your desire to help remember the day! That being said, I think there is a time and place for your documentation (and it might not be in a dimly lit church with a captive audience!) I know my couples love seeing your images, I want you to be in them, but here’s what I would prefer to avoid: I don’t want to trip over you as you crouch in the aisle, I get distracted with you shooting over my shoulder, and I hate having to figure out how to creatively crop you out of the photos because you’re staring at your phone during precious moments. In fact, I am so set on seeing your face I make sure that my clients are given the opportunity to share their photos with their guests, so that not only can you live the day in the present, you can also relive those moments you were a part of for years to come.

So next time you’re inching towards the aisle or your point and shoot is ready to fire, I dare you to just sit back and relax. I was hired to document the day and I take that position seriously, so seriously, I might smile at you (but deep down I am willing you to simply enjoy being a guest!) My clients will thank you, I will thank you, and the photos that you get to be a part of will be a part of their legacy long after your blurry iPhones have been buried in the feeds of Facebook! Let’s not forget about what it means to be a witness to vows!

Let your presence be their present.


The Professional Photographer Hired to Do Her Job



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  1. Mary Ness says:

    Love uou Jenna, well put!!

  2. Mary Ness says:

    Love you Jenna, well put!! Leave it yo uou, you have a real talent.

  3. Mary Ness says:

    Well put Jenna. You have a real talent of taking it at the right moment. Sit back and let it to the professoonals.

  4. Bree McMahon says:

    Some of my favorite photos from my wedding are those taken by my guests! It brings a smile to my face to relive that day through their eyes. And maybe it was just my photographer, but she did a great job working around the “honored guests” desire to take photos. I still received hundreds of beautiful professional photos and have a slew of amateur ones taken by family and friends that really warm my heart. My photographer caught the very best of the day, perfect for blog posts and wall art but my friends caught the nitty gritty and I cherish those photos as much as the professional ones. Is that weird? Posts like these make me feel so self conscious about that!

  5. Margret Aragona says:

    I’ve been to a lot of weddings and I must say that the professional photographer isn’t able to get all the great shots. Most of my favorites are from the guests.

  6. Jaimie M. Macari says:

    So well said! <3 it! Amen sister!

  7. Ashley Ziegler says:

    Brilliant. This seriously is the most polite, humble yet blunt post I’ve ever read about those who get in our way. Seriously I’m impressed. Thank you for sharing and if you don’t mind, I’d like to share it too! 🙂

  8. Dana E. Tate says:

    This is so spot on! Love it!

  9. Sarah-Anne Jozsa says:

    Excuse me as I slow clap.

  10. Jean Burr says:

    Well said and so true!

  11. Marge Holly says:

    Well stated!

  12. Teri Williams Easterling says:

    I’ve been to weddings and other events where people were standing up in the rows, not in the aisle away from others, blocking the view of others to take Ipad or phone photos. Live in the moment, folks. The reception and other times such as just before and after the event are best for candids. Don’t block the other folks!

  13. AMEN sister…. This is my only thing I put my foot down on for my couples weddings, you want pinterest photos that I can’t recreated but I will try sure, you want 100’s of groupings of family photos sure no problem. BUT I want no guest photographers during the ceremony give me this and I will give you the world! My couples are paying me, not the guest give a girl a bone here and put your phone, camera down and be present to the ceremony that is the whole reason you were invited.

  14. Kelsey says:

    This! Oh my gosh this 1000 times over. This is the reason we are having an unplugged ceremony. Professionals were hired to capture the ceremony. I want guests to be present and enjoy the moment.

  15. Tim Robinson says:

    Our wedding was beautiful. It was unusually early in the morning… A 7am wedding as the sun was rising over Lake Superior. It was the first morning that I was legally allowed to wed my best friend; I, a man could finally be recognized by the law for wedding my best man.

    We asked a friend to photograph the occasion; many from our work and church gathered in Duluth’s famous Rose Garden. But then more cameras started popping up. Even the newspaper photographer showed up. But the woman we asked to document got frustrated, thinking we had inappropriately hired a big time photographer and not informing her: she stopped taking photos when the service began.

    The newspaper: we contacted them and explained the situation. They gave us permission to hVe rights to print one photograph. We never saw the rest that were taken.

    We gathered the next day at the same park so family could reshoot some photos. And we’ve seen how impossible it is to take pictures of people taking in the beauty of the event because too many people want their own piece of the action. Perhaps weddings need to start with ground rules first. I think it’s within the rights of the bride and groom to insist on seeing faces and not a sea of phones staring at them.

  16. Wow, never thought of it from that perspective. I’ve been guilty of snapping a photo here or there on my phone but comfortable from my seat. Only then to realize the quality is absolutely terrible and I should have not wasted my time. I do agree though to not crowd the isle or use obscene flash!!! That would be so hard to work around. I think it goes back to just being in the moment in general, weather were at a wedding or home with our families. The phone can wait, life moments can’t. Thanks for sharing it from another perspective.


  17. Lisa Lander says:

    This is gold. I love how you approached this subject. Its hard cause its easy for people to assume. This gives the saying “until you walked in my shoes” meaning.



Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life).  One of my favorite places to be is here, sharing what I'm learning with you. I'm glad you're here!



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