A New England Autumn Wedding and tips for ‘Guest Photography’

We attended a fall wedding this weekend, one of my favorite things to do!

I’m a sucker for any wedding, but as autumn is my favorite season and October my favorite month, weddings this time of year are sort of a nuptial hat trick.

This ceremony and reception were held in two different Berkshire towns — the ceremony by a small private pond in Hinsdale and the reception at the quaint and totally New Englandy Morgan House in Lee.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

In addition to posting some shots from the big day, I thought I’d share a few of my guest-at-the-wedding photo tips in the process. Most of us are armed with the cameras on our smartphones these days, and guests taking photos at weddings is a ubiquitous affair. Throughout every moment of the ceremony and reception, guests will be glued to their devices at varying times, snapping photos, editing them, and posting them online faster than you can say ‘cheese.’

The very first rule of ‘guest photography’ is to be a guest first, and a photographer second. The professional who’s been hired to capture images that day will thank you, too…go ahead and have fun, and if taking photos and video is part of the fun (it is for me), snap away. Just make sure that, when your nose is two inches from the cake as you try to take an artful shot of the rosettes on top, the professional photographer isn’t behind you trying to do the same thing.

That leads me to tip number two: not all of your photos need to be perfect. The urge to delete that picture obscured by Uncle Bill’s giant noggin immediately is great, when the little trashcan icon on your camera is right there egging you on.

But don’t delete. Not only can you edit photos later, the moment is more important than the composition when it comes to guest wedding photos. The professional photographer is in charge of capturing the money shots… you’re in charge of capturing memories for yourself and the couple. There’s nothing visually special about this picture I snapped of the ring bearer, for example, but the bottle behind him — and the little hand in the right of the frame — serves as a reminder of the babies in attendance that day.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

Because of the over abundance of the aforementioned smartphones and other gadgets, it also bears mentioning that a lot of your photos might end up being pictures of people taking pictures. That’s fine … I call them paparazzi shots, and in a few years, it will be interesting to see what kinds of phones and cameras we were using.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

It’s also an interesting angle to take a family photo from behind another person taking the same photo:

Emily and Jay's Wedding

Things the bride and groom aren’t likely to see while they’re bustling around in their own wedding haze are great things to look for when taking pictures… guests arriving, the ceremony space before it’s filled with people, candids of the people around you, etc. Not only will these be pictures they’ll want to see later, they’ll stand out once the barrage of photos from every guest begins to flood the social networks, and help to create a full, detailed timeline of the day.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

There’s something to be said for snapping pictures of little touches at the ceremony and reception. Chances are, the couple put a good amount of thought into their colors, decorations, and location; a snapshot of the flowers at your table, for instance, is not just a burst of color in your set of photos but also a great marker of the season.

Emily and Jay's Wedding

Share your photo tips in the comments!

More Reading:

Getting Social with Wedding Planners

Nice Day for a White Wedding – Carrie and Kevin

The Art of the October Wedding – Rob and Sara

Shooting from the Hip with Lou Jones – Travel photography tips

Don’t Let the Baggage Get you Down

Make Mine a Guinness… photo copyright JCS 2005

Just returned from a press trip to Ireland and France, seeing the sights by train and ferry.

Whirlwind tour doesn’t even begin to describe this experience, but in travel writing you also learn some necessary tid bits about schlepping your schlock all over a continent.

I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty good packer and I’m low maintenance when it comes to necessary baggage – but as we continued our trek across Europe with bags in tow, the press materials we were given, souvenirs, and the overall stank quotient of my dirty clothes were weighing me down. It’s one thing to lug a suitcase from the airport to the hotel and back again, quite another to bring it to an airport, a ferry port, and about a dozen rail stations in two countries in 8 days. I have bruises on my legs from my satchel banging into me as I ran to catch trains, blisters from the handle of my bulging suitcase, and, interestingly, a surprisingly over-developed left bicep all of a sudden.

So here are some tips for the intrepid traveler in all of us. Mind you, I packed light but it wasn’t light enough. So next time around:

  • Screw the ‘outfit options’ mentality. Bring one well-fitting shirt in four colors and two pairs of jeans and one pair of dress pants. Make ’em last.
  • Listen to your mother. Mine told me to roll my clothes into tight balls to conserve space but did I listen? Well, I took the advice as brochures, CDs and DVDs from press representatives began to multiply where my undies were supposed to go. By the end of the trip I had mastered the art of creating a Button-down Burrito.
  • When your co-workers ask you to bring them home a “bottle of wine from Provence because it’s cheap there and they love it and just one is fine!” Politely remind them that just because you can’t ship alcohol to Massachusetts you shouldn’t ask your friends to be pack mules.
  • Canvas bags with shoulder straps from H&M break. Bring a back pack.
  • You basically have to strip naked at the airport to get through security these days. Skip the belt, put the watch in your carry-on, take off all of your rings and stuff beforehand, and my God, WEAR SOCKS. You have to walk through the metal detector barefoot and in Dublin, there’s no carpeting, folks. Just nasty, nasty linoleum. Also, if you wear contacts, put your glasses on instead. Everyone looks like crap on an airplane, so who cares? My pants were falling off and I was workin’ the orphan annie look yesterday, but I was as comfy as I could be in coach and I got through security without a beep. Which always makes me wonder why my belly-button ring never sets it off…