Why is flash not allowed in church during weddings?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Bluepoole, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. Bluepoole

    Bluepoole TPF Noob!

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    Hey all

    Reading through many of the topics in both the beginner and beyond basics forums, especially the ones related to wedding photography, I'm very curious - why is the use of flash in most instances not allowed in churches?

    This seems to be the case in the USA, is this also applicable to other countries? Would be interesting to hear the comments of wedding photographers in Europe, Asia, etc.

    I'm a wedding photographer from South Africa, and as a matter of courtesy always ask the minister weeks before the wedding if I may use flash in the church. I've never received a "no".

    Even in all my years of attending weddings as a guest, the use of flash in the church and during the ceremony has never been disallowed.

    So the purpose of this topic is to ask, why do so many churches in the USA have a no-flash policy?
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It depends - these days many people have a little point and shoot camera or even more and at a wedding its often the case that everyone might very well bring their camera as well as the official photographer. This of course can be quite off putting for those in the lime light ( as it were) as they suddenly find themselves being flashed, clicked and bleeped from all angles during the service.

    Thus I belive many have a police of limiting shots during the service - and of course this ranges from church to church. Some will have a police of no shots during the service, but will have a time near the end when people can take their own photos freely.
    Others will have a limitation that only the wedding photographer may take pictures/use flash (their faith in their fellow humans to be able to turn the auto flash off on their point and shoots normally determins which way they side on this one ;)). It should also be said that a limitation on no flash from the general guests gives help to the photographer as stray flash light from other cameras is then not an issue - nor is it a problem if they happen to have some wireless flash setup in use which might be triggored by flashlight pulses.
    Others will simply have gotten sick of the whole thing and placed a ban on any flash being used. They might also wish to preserve some of the ceremony and atmosphere of the occasion and thus not having someone clicking and flashing to distract.

    In the end these days with the likes of high ISO camera bodies and wide aperture lenses whilst no flash is a limitation it should not be beyond the boundaries for most good level and well equipped wedding photographers to handle.

    Also the "so many" part. I suspect its not the case of there being so many as more the case that when one occurs it gets talked about a lot more.
     
  3. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    It's distracting. The wedding isn't a photo shoot, it's a special event for two people that is being documented. If people are cool with it though, to each their own. But personally, when I marry someday, I'd rather not have a flash popping in my face while I'm exchanging vows. Or if I'm forced to attend someone's wedding, I'd rather not see some crazed photographer dancing around, popping off light everywhere.
     
  4. Hamtastic

    Hamtastic TPF Noob!

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    It's the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not use speedlights in church. ;)

    Churches and priests have all sorts of reasons for not allowing flash. Many feel it is distracting or disrespectful to the ceremony. Some have personal experience with wedding photographers who were jerks. Some just seem to enjoy telling folks what they can and can't do. Others just enforce the policy because it was in place when they started, and that's the way it's always been.

    I shoot weddings in the midwest USA. I've found that most churches have a policy of no flash and at least some movement restrictions. I'm often told to shoot from behind a certain row, or go to the balcony, or even that I have to plant myself and not move once the ceremony starts (from when the bride arrives at the altar to when they leave the altar).

    Always ask the actual officiator though, because occasionally their personal rules are more lenient than the house rules. It's rare, but there's one guy in my town who choreographs the ceremony to help the photographer. He always poses the B & G nicely, and during the rehearsal points out where I'll be, and really helps get good photos.

    I've also found that the same priests who will enforce no flash - no move rules are often more lenient when we aren't in their actual church (college chapel, hotel, out of state church, etc...). Last year one of my Brides' dads was a local minister who had officiated many weddings I'd shot. He had always enforced the no flash - no move rule in the past, but at his daughter's wedding he said "do whatever you need to do." :)

    Once I was approached by an Arch Cardinal (or some title like that?), and he based the photo restrictions on how I was dressed (button up shirt, dark pants, dark shoes). He said "You look nice. You can do what you want, just try not to blind me. I make photographers who show up in sneakers and those photo vests stand in the back."

    In of hundreds of wedding I've been told twice that I couldn't shoot at all during the ceremony. In both instances I stood quietly at the back of the chapel not shooting (guarded by the church lady) while half the guests stood up and flashed away with cell phones and such. Silliness.

    I have never had a non-religious officiator have any sort of photography restrictions.
     
  5. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Definitely what kkamin said. I've been on both sides; in the Audience as well as an assistant photographer. I definitely can see the distraction.

    One church I shot at wouldn't allow cameras at all... zero! However, the priest did allow us to stage the ceremony afterwards. I actually preferred it because the pressure isn't as high since the whole intent is to get the proper photographs. You can ask them hold the pose. You don't need to worry about getting in the way of the audience nor someone getting in your way. No need to sneak around and be quiet. You can even setup all the umbrellas and strobes required. The primary photographer pretty much treated it as a studio session.

    In the end, the photos turned out to be better.
     
  6. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    It would be horrible having strobes firing from two or more directions while people are trying to have a special moment together in a tranquil place, don't you think? I know I wouldn't want flashes firing during my wedding, and I'm a photographer. It's obnoxious and a total mood killer IMHO.
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    :thumbup:
     

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