Let Your Photographer Know about the Restrictions of Your Church Ahead of Time

Church restrictions pertaining to photography can vary wildly. It is very important that your photographer knows those restrictions in advance so they can properly plan your photography schedule and how to best shoot your ceremony. Some churches won’t allow photography at all during the ceremony. Others won’t allow flash or won’t allow the photographer to be in certain areas during of the church. Some churches won’t let photographers on the altar. Others insist they can only stand behind the last row of people, or shoot only from the balcony. Some locations request that the photographer pick-one-spot-and-stay-there during the ceremony. It can be done, but the couple should not expect a wide variety of angles.

Some photographers strive to be very frank with their clients about what they can accomplish, given tight restrictions. They feel their clients should know exactly how the restrictions are going to affect the photographs. For example, if the church will only allow a photographer to shoot from behind the last row of people, then the couple should not expect a spread of shots showing their facial expressions during their vows. If flash is not allowed then there may be some movement blur from using a slower shutter speed. There’s always going to be a repercussion.Churches often impose rules about where the photographer can stand during the ceremony.  


It is important that the couple face each other during the ceremony so that the photographer can still capture them in profile with a zoom lens. They should hold hands and be affectionate with each other. Many couples don’t realize that it is OK for them to do this and instead just stand there very stiff or stand with their backs to the crowd. You shouldn’t be looking at your minster when you say your vows; you should be looking at each other. You’re not marrying your minister.When lighting the unity candle you should position it so you can walk around it and face out toward the people so your family and friends can see you light it, and so your photographer can get a great shot of the moment. The same with the mothers when they light the two side candles.


Talk to your wedding official. They usually have the power to bend the rules. Sometimes the restrictions are outdated, sometimes they are not enforced, or the official is willing to overlook them, if you make a strong case. Many times the matter rests entirely on the mood of the person making decisions that day.The clergy person or justice who will serve as your wedding official, or officiant, needs to understand that your wedding photographer is not going to show up and cause a major disturbance. Perhaps that person has had bad experiences with pushy, inconsiderate wedding photographers in the past. It’s your job to let them know your wedding photographer will be respectful of the ceremony. Make sure the officiant knows that your photographer will shoot with a tripod and without flash, if necessary. Wedding photographers, by definition, are there to capture what’s happening as inconspicuously as possible —almost invisibly.


Another point to raise: the restrictions are usually placed only on the photographer—not the guests, who are all snapping (and flashing!) willy-nilly with their point-and-shoot cameras. That could be a big frustration considering wedding photographers often make every effort at being discreet—and will avoid using flash when asked (“it doesn’t look good anyway.”) If patient explanation gets you nowhere, then the couple must be willing to except the results of the restrictions. The images can be reposed after the wedding if necessary.


Interview with a Blue Ridge College Student

1.      Why did you go into business for yourself?
Because I wanted a job I would enjoy and have control over. I love photography so it seemed the logical choice. I’m a creative person and I get to be creative.

2.      What do you like most about working for yourself?I only have myself to answer to. I don’t have to worry weather others are doing their job right or not. How much I make is completely up to how much effort I want to put into it and not up to someone else. Also I can work when I want and as long as I want. I never have to miss my sons play, field trip, or karate tournament.  3.      What do you dislike the most?
If something goes wrong the only person the clients have to blame is me. I work very hard to make sure nothing goes wrong and when it does I always bite the bullet in favor of my client. It wasn’t their fault; they shouldn’t have to pay for it.

4.      Why did you choose photography?
I am an artistic person and wanted a job I could create beautiful art. It is also rewarding to see the happy couples looking at their images for the first time and loving them.

5.      What do you enjoy most in photography?
I enjoy weddings most which is why I specialize in them. The day of the shoot is very exciting especially when you know you just got the most awesome shot that the bride is going to love. I also get to meet all kinds of people and I find it very interesting how different people can be. Weddings are also very unpredictable which for me fun is. I hate routine, I love surprises.

6.      What do you dislike the most?
The boring behind the scenes work, accounting, taxes, advertising, sitting in front of the computer for hours editing( although sometimes this can be fun if  I’ve recently learned a new trick.

7.      What sets your business apart from other photographers?
I actually give clients what they want and not what I think they should want. I listen to them carefully and try to get to know who they are.  I try to work with what they can afford and not try to up-sale them.  I try to remember what it was like being a bride planning a wedding trying desperately to stick to a budget so I can connect with them better on their level.

8.      If I needed information on your business where would I go?
I have ads in the local yellow pages, I have a website with extensive information including pricing, and I also attend many of the local bridal shows on a regular basis.

9.      Are your prices competitive?
Yes I have some of the best prices in the area

10.  Do you offer anything new over the competition?
I offer artistic montages that other photographers do not and other special digital artistry. Clients can also purchase their negatives (digital files) with a copyright release. I also offer a large selection of albums anywhere from $45 to $2000 dollars from soft cover coffee table albums to beautiful Leather bound Flush mount albums. Most photographers don’t have such a large selection. I also let the couples pick their own images; a lot of photographers don’t allow this. They can even pick different images for their parent albums. They don’t all have to be identical. Each album is a unique piece of artwork.

11.  Why should I choose you over all the other photographers around?
Because I’ll give you what you’re looking for, all you have to do is tell me. I can customize everything so your images reflect you and not a standard.  I’m also very easy going and friendly. If things are running behind I would never start complaining about it and stressing out the bride. I’d try to help her, whatever she needed. Plus during the time people are hurriedly trying to get ready are some of the best shots. Those are the shots that show true personality. Interview by John Crouse