Sometimes my camera frames a story I’d rather not have to tell.
When I shoot a wedding reception, I try to get photos of everyone there. If a group of people look like they’re having a good time, I take their picture. When there’s a nice moment going on, I catch the moment before it changes. Don’t ask–just shoot. I want to give the wedding couple a true picture of the day.
Sometimes people decline to have their picture taken, and when they do, I respect their wishes.
On this occasion, though, I wish this particular couple had refused. This man and woman were sitting at their table, chatting and making dreamy eyes at each other. It was a dimly lit reception hall, and they didn’t make any effort to avoid the camera. Cute couple, I thought.
Later, on the dance floor, the same two people were swaying to a ballad. I moved around and shot from a distance, to avoid flashing the camera right in their faces. They kissed right as I pressed the shutter. I moved on without a second thought.
After a wedding, I don’t immediately post the photos on my website or social media. The wedding couple are the gatekeepers. I always send them–and only them–a quick handful of photos within a day or two after the wedding, and later I post the full proofs in a private gallery. Only the wedding couple can share the gallery link with others. I won’t give the URL to guests, family members, or vendors.
There have been times when couples have been slow in getting the photos out to their guests, and relatives of the couple have nudged me for the photos for weeks. But unless I have the go-ahead from the wedding couple, I don’t give them the key.
It’s because of photos like this.
Turns out the two people snogging hadn’t come to the wedding together. Both of them had spouses, neither of whom was in attendance that night.
Who knows what they were thinking. Probably a combination of alcohol and the romantic atmosphere of a wedding conspired to push them into some bad choices. And either they forgot I was there with a camera, or they were too wrapped up in each other to care.
It’s not my job to judge. But it is up to me to try to make life easy for the wedding couple.
When my clients saw the photos in their private gallery, they were shocked. They decided they would spare their friends’ spouses the misery of seeing these moments. I don’t think they wanted to be responsible for starting a scandal, and neither did I.
The groom asked me to remove the photos from the gallery, and I agreed. I’m a photographer, not a private investigator. I don’t want my job to become a lower-stakes version of Rear Window. I wish I hadn’t taken the pictures in the first place, but how could I have known? My camera doesn’t come with an affair detector.
I suppose it was inevitable that I’d get a photo like this at some point. If you give a hundred monkeys a hundred cameras and tell them to shoot a hundred weddings, one of them is going to catch some people messing around.
This bit of awkwardness reinforced my belief that the wedding couple should be the sole gatekeepers of the photos. Nothing goes public without their say-so.
And a quick aside to guests at weddings: if you must make out with someone who’s not your partner, please avoid the camera. Better yet, don’t do it at all.