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Unplugged and Crowdsourced: The New Age of Wedding Photography

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I’m photographing a wedding in a couple of weeks. During one of our meetings, I asked the bride whether she and her fiancé had made a decision regarding their guests being allowed to photograph during the ceremony and reception. She started shaking her head, saying that it hadn’t even occurred to her.

I could tell she was getting a little agitated thinking about whether they would offend their guests if they told them they couldn’t take pictures. So we talked about the pros and cons of it. They haven’t made their decision yet.

No-More-iPhoneWhile there has always been the snap-happy friend or family member at the wedding, the hired photographer has pretty much had carte blanche in getting the job done. But in this paparazzi culture, they’re having to navigate the obstacle course of guests’ smart phones, tablets, and even DSLRs with flashes.

Consequently, couples are having to make the decision of telling their guests when they can and cannot whip out that smartphone Especially if they have hired a professional photographer. Why risk having the photos they’re paying lots of money for, potentially be ruined by one of their guests getting in the way.

A term being used a lot right now is the Unplugged Wedding. If you google it, you’ll get over 5,000,000 results. Spend time looking at all the images (and reading random photographers blogs) and it becomes very clear that the new thing-to-do is…coming up with lovely, creative ways to convey the digital boundaries.

ceremonyPersonally, I feel that the ceremony should be the one time that guests should “stay in the moment”. My father is an officiant, and has often expressed his frustration with not only guests, but even the hired photographer, detracting from the ceremony. It does seem that it’s trending in the direction of having the ceremony unplugged, except for the hired photographer…but everyone all-in at the party!

And of course, the reception is where those planned and unplanned moments collide. It’s virtually impossible for the hired photographer to get them all. And, besides, it’s those spontaneously captured moments that make some of the best memories.

And this is when I truly love the digital age.

First danceWith the advent of cloud technology, there are some really cool crowd source photo sharing apps available for couples to customize and offer their guests. Everyone can share their photos with not only the couple, but the other guests and beyond, all in one convenient location. Some of these apps are really streamlined and all about just photo sharing. Others have premium offerings like moderated live streaming slideshows.

While Instagram seems to be the most recognizable way of collectively sharing the big event, there are a handful of wedding specific apps that are gaining in popularity. As goes in the tech world, if it’s complicated or not intuitive, people will abandon it for whatever takes the fewest steps to getting their photos online.

These other apps have simplified the whole process. After the couple establishes their site, all the guests have to do is download the app, connect to the specific album, shoot and post. Most have commenting capabilities too.

Here are five apps for both iPhone & Android that look really interesting (For more information on them as well as a couple more, this guide is helpful):

Wedpics claims to be the #1. Their site states the have registered 36,000 couples, is adding more than 1,400 users per day, serves more than 1200 weddings per weekend and its users share more than 100,000 photos weekly. It’s free to use.

Wedding Party shows up a lot in the wedding blogging community. They are also very supportive of the Wedding Photographer. It’s a free app.

OurPhotoOpp is fee based. $149, but on sale for $99. They offer a live remote online viewing slideshow, in addition to many other products.

Wedding Snap: Fees range from $89-$249. The two highest packages offer photo retouching, and for the $249 package, a live moderated slide show.

Capsule: It states it’s free, but I get the feeling there might be some charges somewhere. It’s really vague. They are integrated with Instragram and The Knot. They also advocate for the wedding photographer.

As with anything that involves technology these days, photographers have to figure out a way to integrate and adapt. Integrate what works – the classics, the tried and true – with the new.

Wedding photographers, in this case, have an opportunity to expand their services and create ways of adding value to their packages so that they can help their clients make the best decisions for one of the most important days in their lives.


About the author: Tiffany Diamond is a freelance photographer based in the Pacific Northwest. She specializes in portrait, lifestyle, event, and documentary photography. Visit her website here.


Image credits: Take a photo or few, it’ll last longer by Soon., aisle by rasdourian, First dance by waitscm