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Wedding Photography Restrictions and Limitations at the Church
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Have you ever been to a church wedding and been taken aback by how visible and inappropriate the wedding photographer is - such as being in very close proximity to the bride and groom and taking pictures indiscriminately as if the end of the world is coming and he's trying to get in as many shots as possible?
Alas, this kind of scenario has been repeated so often that many churches now have strict rules and limitations for wedding photography. Why has this happened? Because amateur photographers have proliferated in the wedding photography business and their lack of experience and awareness has ruined things for the rest of us professionals.
Limitations include: (1) no flash photography at all - which can be debilitating in a dark church; (2) photography only during the entrance, ring exchange and exit; (3) photography only from the back of the church or, worse, the balcony (arguably the worst case scenario, especially if it's combined with no flash photography).
This is quite a serious matter because obviously the church pictures are important - and can be quite beautiful. There are many wonderful Priests out there who realize that we all have a job to do and that when we work together as partners it's a win-win situation: The ceremony maintains its sanctity and the photographer gets the shots. But then other Ministers have been tainted with their experiences with amateur photographers so, understandably, many of them paint us all with the same brush.
I always make sure to speak with the Officiant before the ceremony so I understand the rules. Regardless of how I feel about them, this is his/her domain and I always respect that. There's no choice really. Once, in my early days, I was told off by a Priest, mid-ceremony - not a pleasant experience for anyone - and that happened while I thought I was being cognizant of his rules. Yikes.
My personal approach is to be as stealthy as possible. Afterwards, I often hear from my couples that they didn't even notice me in the church until the registry signing. In my opinion, that is the ideal. At the end of the day, most Officiants just want the wedding photographer to have some common sense - do what we need to do, without stepping on their toes. In this case, as in other areas, common sense comes with experience - it's not actually that 'common'.
My advice to the Bride and Groom. Make sure you take the wedding photography into account when selecting your place of worship. Ask your Priest or Minister about any limitations. If the pictures of the ceremony are important to you, don't assume anything because you may be shocked on the wedding day to find out there are significant restrictions that may hamstring your photographer's ability to effectively capture your ceremony.
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