I got married 8 months ago.


I got married 8 months ago. I am a photographer. I learned some really seriously interesting lessons that changed my perspective on the rhetoric I’ve been buying into about wedding photography.

Just a note about this: it’s controversial. And something I have been AGAINST for the past decade.

When you actually get the opportunity to see the other side of things — from a new perspective it changes you if you let it. And here’s how I flipped the script of how I now shoot weddings…

First. One of my best friends photographed my wedding. Photographer perk. We know other photographers. My intern/second shooter also worked in the background taking photos of whatever he wanted to. More on this later.

Second. I didn’t say anything to anyone about NOT taking pics during the ceremony. Or before. Or after. I just let it happen. I didn’t tell them not to post images on social media. I didn’t tell them to sit down. Be unplugged. Be in the moment.

I realized that in trying to control guests experience — I was losing out on…well…the guest’s experience.


Their iphone pics started coming in. Little videos. Pics. Things they thought were interesting or cool or meaningful. Things that happened while I was getting ready. Note about that. It SUCKED being sequestered and not seeing the entire thing roll out. Those guest pics made me see a part that I didn’t even know existed.


I asked every single person to send me everything. EVERYTHING they took. I made an album on my phone — and can I just tell you how joyful it was to look at? We get caught up in the perfect moment. Did you get his face coming down the aisle? Did you get a shot of the flowers on the tables?

Later. What I valued? People’s perspectives. Images that showed me the JOY they were having during the event. It didn’t make them less involved — it INCLUDED them in the experience. They each gave us the gift of insight. Of showing us how much they LOVED us and the funny things they were charmed by.


I no longer ask my couples to have their guests put away their phones. Phones are part of our world and part of how we interact with the world now. If something is meaningful — I DAMN well want to take a pic — even if it’s crappy. There’s one or two photographers, yes…but they’re looking at certain things and focused on the main event. You know what’s fun? NOT the main event. These are people we LOVE. We want to see what’s fun for them too.

Family. You know what I don’t give a shit about now? 400 pics of me looking at the person giving the toast. And 400 pics of the person giving the toast looking down at their words. You know what i DO care about? Looking at the people who I love listening and interacting with each other.


I love my photographs. I love the images my besties took of my wedding. But I realized there was so much more to gain from having lots of viewpoints. People that didn’t get featured in the main photos. Every single person there was someone I loved. And when there wasn’t a particular picture of them — it was a loss. They traveled and made time to come and celebrate us.

I now focus a LOT more on ensuring that EVERY single person there is adored by my camera. Because SOMEONE in that room loves them. Yes. The couple is important and their immediate family is important. Yep. But I think we get caught up in the MAIN event and forget that it’s not just about that.

It’s about love and putting yourself in the FAMILIES footsteps. At the end of the day — what are THEY going to love looking at? It’s YOUR perspective — I get that…but YOU don’t look at the images later. And everyone interacts with the images differently. When I shoot now — I shoot as if I’m the mom looking at images later…I’m shooting for gramma… I’m shooting for your work friends who got all fancied up and are a little drunk and relaxed and happy. I’m shooting for the day that someone dies suddenly and thank god there’s a photo of you hugging them.

I think we’ve gotten WAY FAR AWAY from what really matters at events. Yep. The Pinterest Effect is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and I get it. I worked really hard to make my wedding as visual as I imagined.

But the images I love (and dammit I’m crying as I am writing this) are of the people I love. Their faces shining FULL of love for my husband and I. Their faces delighted as they interact with something they are surprised by. Them looking at each other and remembering that they love each other — because isn’t that what weddings are for…to celebrate love and connection and remember that we all belong together in some crazy unpredictable way?


Posted byTammy Swales