Beware of the iPhone Paparazzi

Admit it – you’ve done it. We’ve all done it. The bride is walking back up the aisle, the organ is playing full pelt and the moment gets the better of you. You leap out into the aisle, iPhone at the ready and take what you hope is the ultimate mastershot of bride and groom. One that your Facebook friends will love.

But let’s rewind and try to see that through the eyes of the official photographer. He’s there at the back of the church, ready for his one chance to capture the images that bride and groom will keep forever. His shutter falls and the memory shot is ruined by the iPhone paparazzi who’ve leapt between him and the happy couple.

A matter of scale

What can we do about this? Well, first, let me say that this problem is nothing new. It’s something I’ve learned to live with and can usually work around. I also don’t mind modern technology being everywhere – I’ve built it into my business model.

I also don’t dislike smartphones, by the way. After the wedding, I give everyone an app with the best images to share with friends and family. It’s called a Handy Album.

But there’s a right time to use smartphones, and today it’s a matter of scale. Smartphones and tablets are taking over the event, leaving me without enough room to work. Guests simply sneak in front of me, making my job impossible.

A person's eyes tell us a lot about how they are feeling, so eye contact is crucial to capture genuine emotions in a photograph.

Unfortunately, it's very hard for the bride and groom to maintain eye contact with a camera long enough to take a clean shot (without blinking). It’s even harder when friends and family members are wandering behind the photographer’s back and distracting the couple.

Selfie sticks

Even worse if guests use tablets and ubiquitous selfie sticks. Again, it's noting new. This is a romantic self-portrait of Helmer Larsson and his wife Naemi from 1934. They lived in Stöpafors, Sweden. The modern selfie stick was released 80 years later, but homemade selfie sticks could date back as early as 1925.

nothing new

Back when sticks were actual… sticks.


Let’s dispel a couple of myths. Number one is that your smartphone is just as good as the kit the pros use. If that were true, pros would be queuing up to use those lightweight, portable devices. In reality, our arms are dropping off because we lug around huge, expensive, heavy pro gear.

OK, in daylight, in perfect conditions, your smartphone can produce a decent, high-resolution snap. But they’re simply not built to operate in low-light conditions – such as in church.

The second myth is that taking lots of photos helps you remember the big day. Wrong. A new psychological study from Fairfield University in Connecticut found that taking photographs weakens memories.

In the study, participants toured an art museum. Some took photos; others were asked to remember what they saw. The photographers recalled far fewer of the items than the non-photographers. The difference deepens in the case of events, especially if they involve emotions.

You’re not a pro

We should also mention that, however enthusiastic you are, you’re not a pro – which means that those dark, out-of-focus iPhone shots will be the bride and groom’s only memento of the day if you stop the photographer doing his job. [more about losing photographs]

In fact, let’s compare some of my own photos with images taken by happy snappers. Notice the difference?

Professional photographer in Bristol vs Happy smartphone snapper

The smartphone's camera sets the exposure to preserve details in the highlights and loses all information in the shadows of the photo.

Hands-free wedding challenge

Let’s be honest, wedding guests aren’t being paid to supply high-quality images to be printed on canvas and hung on the wall. They’re simply supposed to guzzle champagne and dance themselves dizzy. So let’s make it a great day for the happy couple and allow the photographer they commissioned to record those precious moments.

There are two solutions here. One is for the bride to manage the guests politely and make it clear that they should keep their iPhones in their pockets until events have moved outside. Or the pro (that’s me) could give everyone copies of the official wedding-day set.

That way, everyone’s happy. Which is how a wedding should be, right?

Check out my Handy Album demo app here:

Talk to Maciek about how those happy smartphone snappers can be managed on your big day. Call me today on 0117 2140670.

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