I’ve had an interesting week trying to get hold of a reverend to discuss the photography of a wedding during the church service. It’s crucial for me as a photographer to always get this right, after all this is THE wedding as it happens, however it is also the time where discretion is also essential. You need a good balance between capturing the shots without disrupting anything and being as silent and unobtrusive as possible.
Taking some pictures during hymns is easy, everyone’s preoccupied singing and the sound of the shutter is muffled by the music. I shoot one picture during the vows and a maximum of two or three during ring exchange so as not to disturb the ceremony. I also try to make sure that I’m out of sight if possible, but definitely in view of the bride. Ideally though, I can move between a spot at the front in view of the bride and the back of the church without being seen or heard, to capture shots from both angles.
This is all subject to a good relationship with the reverend and obeying their rules. Sometimes you can’t stand at the front at all, and have to only shoot from the back. You can also find that you have to shoot in the side aisle, which can work, except when everyone stands up and you can’t see anything. Shooting from the back is ok, except in very large churches and then it’s difficult to get close enough to get the shot. Also most churches are very dark, often pushing exposure settings to the maximum and it’s difficult as you can’t use flash.
Sometimes you get lucky, other times it’s not as easy but all photographers should be able to work in some way or another. However, its difficult if you can’t follow appropriate etiquette as some photographers do ruin it for the rest of us and give a reverend or a registar a really bad experience so they’re less inclined to give photographers any wiggle room!