A colleague of mine recently asked a question about wedding photography after talking about his experience of shooting his first one. He ended it very stressed out and eventually complained about so many folks holding up iPads and phones to take a photo during the ceremony and in some instances getting in the way of his photo-taking opportunity. While yes, it’s unfortunate that it ruined his shot I believe that event shooting and wedding shooting has changed to the point where we as photographers should instead be embracing this instead of trying to fight it.
Let’s be honest here, no one in the crowd taking a photo with their phone, tablet or even a little DSLR is your competition. Absolutely no one is going to shoot a photo and then charge the bride and groom for it. Yes, they’re getting in the way. Yes, it’s annoying. But instead of fretting over how a single image of yours is now ruined, turn it into something else immediately. If you’re at the back of the hall and you suddenly see cameras, phones and tablets go up you shouldn’t try to fight it. Embrace it and shoot that instance because at the end of the day your job is to be a documentarian.
If you’re at a wedding, and trying to snap a photo of the cake or a specific moment and someone’s flash is getting in the way and messing up your exposures, then that’s one thing. You can easily and politely ask them to stop for around 30 seconds so that you can take photos that the happy couple will remember and cherish later on in life. But if someone is simply just taking a photo, then that shouldn’t really bother you or prevent you from doing your job.
Of course, you can always ensure that this doesn’t happen to begin with by getting more creative with your angles and positioning as well as having a second shooter if that option is available to you in your budget. Furthermore, I don’t think that we can really stop people from taking pictures at this stage of the game. Everyone has a phone on them or a tablet and everyone loves taking photos all the time even though it’s not anywhere in the same realm or reason as to why you’re doing it. At certain times, telling folks to stop taking photos isn’t a bad idea–but again only at certain times.
Otherwise, it’s time that we embrace it rather than fight it.