Thursday, December 20, 2012

Wedding Photography and The Cell-Phone Face

There's a new trend that I've been witnessing at weddings in the last year or so. It's one of those things that you see happening and you realize that there's nothing you can do about it. It's going to keep happening, it's going to get worse, and there's nothing we can do to stop it. Still, I think it's interesting so I wanted to take a few minutes to point it out.

I don't want you to think that I'm complaining or being whiny... not because I'm not capable of being complaining and whining… Oh yes, I'm very capable… But rather because, as I said, I don't really think there's anything that can be done about this problem. I also think that it's the sort of thing that only wedding photographers really notice so it might be interesting to folks who don't see weddings the way that we do.  :)

Everybody has a camera with them all the time now. Most people don't even carry a camera anymore, they just use the camera that is built into their cell phone. The negative effect that this is having on wedding photography is that it's getting harder and harder to take pictures of people at a wedding and capture emotion and expressions. It seems like, more and more, when I scan the crowd with my camera looking for that moment of emotion and tenderness all I see our faces blocked by a camera phone... or faces looking down at the picture that they just took with their camera phone.

As I mentioned when I started this blog post, I don't think that there's anything we can do about this. The camera phone is here to stay. The current generation of young people (kids that are the age of my children) sees no distinction between witnessing something and photographing it. To them these two things are one and the same. If they see it, they should take a picture of it. I don't see this going away anytime soon. In fact I suspect it's only a matter of time before you can wear a special pair of glasses that simply videotapes everything you look at.

But as a wedding photographer, it's disheartening. We photographers tend to pay a great deal of attention to the "little things." So, while most people don't really notice that the father of the bride has a camera in front of the his face while his daughter is dancing with his son-in-law, we do. We spend hours looking over these images as we work on them in the days following a wedding and so we start to notice when images are looking different over time. The picture of the bride walking down the aisle with every head turned to look at her is now a thing of the past. It's been replaced by a picture of the bride walking down the aisle with half the people at the ceremony looking at the phone in front of their face and the other half ignoring the bride as they look down at the picture they just snapped.

It would be great if there was a way to ask people, in a very polite and nice way, to please not take pictures during the special "events" at a wedding. If we could somehow start a tradition where people did not use their camera phones during the bride's walk down the aisle, or the first dance as husband and wife, etc.… But instead only use them to take fun pictures of their friends, people at the table, their crazy uncle doing the "Cupid shuffle," ...that would be awesome. Hey, the pictures that I'm taking will be on Facebook in a couple of weeks so why not put the phone down so that your face will be visible in the pictures?

But, of course, that'll never happen and you can't blame them.  I'm a photographer.  I love to take pictures!  No surprise that everyone else does, too.  :)

It's just wishful thinking for us wedding photographers who live for those moments when we catch real emotion.

Luckily, the bride and groom still leave their cell phones at home.  :)

Booray Perry is an award-winning wedding photographer in Tampa Florida.

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