Solid Advice for Wedding Guests: Put the Smartphone Away and Sit Down!

You’ve probably seen it, we’ve written about it, and wedding photographers in particular loathe it, but for some reason people can’t stop doing it: getting in the way at weddings to get the perfect smartphone shot of the happy couple.

And although many of us photographic types have taken the time to explain to our friends why they should sit down, enjoy the wedding and not get in the photographer’s way, the video above just maybe gets the point across better.

The video was shot for a segment on Sacramento’s Fox 40 called “Don’t Be That Guy,” and it hits the proverbial nail on the proverbial head with a proverbial hammer… proverbially.


Producer Sabrina Rodriguez explains in no uncertain terms why it’s best for guests to stay out of the way, and shows myriad examples of what happens when they don’t.

And when we say no uncertain terms, we mean it. “Thanks to cell phones, just about everyone and their mother thinks they’re a professional photographer,” narrates Rodriguez. “You’re not!… Stay in your seat and watch, not like this woman who’s circling the couple like a hungry shark trying to get a good angle.”

Needless to say, she pulls no punches, and we see no reason why every wedding photographer shouldn’t share this with their friends and clients. Who knows, maybe they’ll pass it on to their guests-to-be and save you a headache down the road.

(via Fstoppers)

  • Dover

    You just revealed that you have never been a part of a pro gig. Otherwise you would understand.

  • Dover

    And I bet the photography was stellar!

  • Dover

    Right. Imagine handing a bunch of images to a bride that shows her clueless relatives blocking every ‘magical moment’ with a damn iPhone, or even worse iPad. You do not want to be the photographer that has had to endure that kind of challenge. I will never take a gig where the person paying the bill does not agree to a ‘no phones, no cameras’ policy.

  • Bill Dragon

    Did they also ask their friends to bring the food?

    I didn’t think so. It baffles me that people prefer paying top dollar for flowers, invitations, and souvenirs for their guests, but then go cheap on the photography and miss out on having truly memorable pictures of their wedding.

    Considering how fast people get divorced nowadays, this doesn’t surprise me.

  • Stefano Druetta

    no hard feelings, we can switch to italian if you feel fine with that :P

  • JJtoob

    A few months ago I was asked to record a wedding. There was this guy who was going around the entire building, I even saw him spin as he recorded video with his camcorder. The thing that upsets me is that they’ll probably erase their video/pictures after a while. The footage I got is something I have to keep forever as my client may request more copies. On the plus side, I didn’t give a crap about that wedding as it was one of my exes getting married lol what a crap wedding that was :D

  • JoeNonymous

    The last wedding I was at, the venue was set up completely for guest photos. There were tv’s across the venue and an app that tied in, so as soon as a guest took a photo it could be displayed. The couple had designated photographer-only time, but other than that, they wanted everyone to take as many pictures as they wanted.

  • JoeNonymous

    Regardless of the venue, if you pull out your douchePad to take a photo and you block my view, I will make it my mission that my next words are going to be “Ooops, sorry”.

  • JoeNonymous

    Look up “Eversnap”

  • Name

    i hope people recognize this guy from his photographs/video and call him out for being a self righteous asshole. you can’t tell someone to “sit down” at an event for their family/friends just because you’re incapable of adjusting to a changing environment.

  • David

    For all those that say photographers and videographers should not need guest to put their cameras/phones away you need to understand why myself and other wedding professionals are motivated to encourage couples to have an “unplugged ceremony”. Its not for our benefit, but the benefit of our clients. We want their photos or video to be the best they can be. I can just as easily shoot a wedding with all the guest clicking away. Will my shots be clean? No. Will I have lost moments because someone stood at the wrong time? Quite possibly. Now before someone say as professionals we need to adapt consider that when you are shooting a wedding with 50, 100, or 200+ guest it is impossible to predict when a person is going to pop out of their seat or begin to wander around. It not a matter of “adapting”, that’s not something you can adapt to. Most couples want unobtrusive photographers/videographers so that often times means shooting from a distance. The greater the distance the more people between the lens and the couple and the greater the chance a well intended guest will block the shot. Also allot of churches place restrictions on professionals in terms of where they can shoot from or how much they can move that guest are not required to follow. We promote this concept heavily with our couples and most are getting the message. The weddings which are unplugged have a completely different look. The guest are truly engaged in the ceremony, and the looks on their faces (that we also capture for the couple) reflect that. We get more tears, and more smiles at unplugged weddings than we do where the guest are watching the wedding through a viewfinder.

  • SandyLester

    Since there have been portable cameras, there have been picture takers at weddings.
    People who attend want to remember the day of celebration.
    At my wedding I provided throw away cameras to everyone there, that way we would have many candid shots before and after the exchanging of vows.
    So called “professionals” really need to get over themselves.

  • SandyLester

    No ruined all on tape

  • Accipiter

    It’s all up to the bride and groom. If you preferred to have candid shots, then that’s great! That’s your choice, but if another bride and groom request only one photographer take photos, then that’s THEIR choice, and the guests should respect that.

    Also I’m not sure what your problem is with ‘professionals’. They do a job just like everyone else to support themselves.

  • Accipiter

    I’m curious if you’d still have the same point of view if 3/4 of the photos from your wedding had someone’s head in the way or someone’s phone in the way. I sure hope you wouldn’t blame the photographer for not having the wizard-like ability to take photos through solid objects.

  • Accipiter

    ” Unplugged sounds good, but it does not help you guests to celebrate.”

    I’m confused how not being allowed to watch the ceremony through the tiny screen of a smart phone constantly snapping pictures or taking video is taking away the ability of the guests to celebrate. If you feel you lost something by not getting ‘your’ photos (which, by the way, will look exactly like everyone else’s), then you’re missing the point of a wedding, and might be just a little too attached to technology.

    Put the phones down and enjoy life, everyone!

  • Gr8days

    As a wedding planner, the bride and groom have enough to worry about other than rude guests. I also officiate for weddings and I always make an announcement for people to silence their phones and to please leave the pictures to the professional. They can have access to much better shots after the wedding that are taken by the professional. This is the wedding couple’s day and they have designed it for their guests to enjoy it! That’s not happening when someone else stands up and blocks someone’s view of the couple.

  • StrangeVista

    Haha, no, I’m not so rude as that! But if they had known, they would have felt terrible. Trust me, I was not the only one who felt this way, in fact, it was pretty much one of the main topics of conversation that day. And for the record, I detest weddings. I was there to fulfill an obligation. The whole shebang is their idea and their party, and I could care less how much they spend on it.

  • StrangeVista

    Nope. Wedding ‘rules’ required that I sat where I sat. And I never complained to them, because that would have made them feel awful. I post here to add my experience to the forum. I will try your ‘get drunk’ suggestion next time. Any pointers from personal experience?

  • LL

    yes, but the BRIDE and GROOM MUST also respect the Photographer’s Talent…
    you appear to be “ONE OF THOSE GUYS…” and dont care about the anyone but yourself.

  • Joseph Powell

    I shoot weddings for a living. It’s my job to work around people with their phones and their iPads and their cameras. Occasionally I need to ask people to please refrain until I’ve gotten an important shot, but usually it’s not a problem. It’s just one of those things you have to work around. If I have a shot with an arm sticking up, I’ll just amputate them later or remove them from the shot if I can. A few shots will always get ruined anyway. If I’m standing in the middle of the aisle and someone jumps out in front of me, I’ll just ask them to please wait until I’ve finished. I’ve never had anyone be upset when I was nice. And when I’m done, I thank them for helping me out.

    What bothers me the most? I’m getting paid to get shots for everyone. You aren’t. So, feel free to stick up your iPad, your phone, your camera. I’ll work around you with a smile on my face. Because you’ll be snapping and chimping and reviewing and changing settings and hitting buttons and you’ll be missing out on why you were invited there in the first place.

    I hate to say this as a photographer, but nothing will ever replace being there. Not even a photograph. And every second you’re taking a picture or adjusting or pressing a button or zooming in a video is a second you just missed out on. I KNOW you think you’re watching it because you’re looking at it. But you’re not. You observe with your eyes, your ears, your mind and your heart. If even one of those elements is missing, you’ve just missed out on what’s going on in front of you. Totally your prerogative.

  • William Skrainski

    We’re paid in advance….it’s just a pain in the ass, so don’t be that guy!

  • William Skrainski

    You’re trolling….right?

  • William Skrainski

    Ever shoot a wedding sport?

  • njweddingphotog

    This is why I CLEARLY state in my wedding contract that I, along with my assistant, am to be the only photographer during the ceremony and formal pictures. I explain why, and most couples will say “wow… I never thought about that!” (and then 9 times out of 10 will opt for the unplugged ceremony.)
    It’s hard for someone without wedding photography experience to understand how intrusive it is to be in the aisle with an iPhone (or even worse, an iPad!) when the paid photographer is trying to document key moments… and as the professional, it’s never a good idea to be abrupt or rude towards guests (as tempting it may be.) While putting the “me only” clause in my contract doesn’t necessarily guarantee these things won’t take place, what it does for me is gives me sort of a safe zone in case, God forbid, Aunt Bertha jumps in front of me during the first kiss and I miss the shot.

  • Taylor Venus

    You are that guy, I see it. It does not matter what you think, I promise you that the couple care less about your photos and more of the one’s they actually paid for , so stay out and respect that. The ceremony is something everyone should respect and enjoy, there is no reason to take photos. Do it at the reception.

  • Taylor Venus

    My worst is when the couple or the bride and her father are dancing and some fool decides to interrupt them (super special moment) to take a stupid phone photo.

  • Crystal

    Smartphones are different. People with pocket cameras always wanted to get a shot of special moments. That’s true. But people with smartphones are after something else. They’re essentially watching the ceremony through their device. They’re taking one shot and then putting the phone away. They’re taking unlimited shots because they’re not limited by 24 exposures on a roll of film. And their taking video, which means holding their cameras up for extended periods of time. And the absolute worst is that they’re taking those shots so that they can post them to Facebook and Instagram immediately. So they’re especially pressed to get the shot they want when they want it.