It's all about you being relaxed
The way a photograper works on your wedding day is vital. It obviously depends on the approach you want from them, which will either really positively or negatively have an impact on your wedding day. I class myself as a 'candid, reportage, you don't know I'm there' type of photographer and while it's easy to simply say the words "I'm unobtrusive, everyone will think I'm a guest" and similar stuff on a website it's actually a lot harder to put any meaning behind it so you can imagine it on your actual wedding day (and in truth actually do it on the day) - after all you really don't want to be left a bit put out if someone promises a certain approach but doesn't actually deliver on the day...so I'll attempt to put some meaning into the words.
In this post I'll draw comparisons to the way a lot of other photographers work - during those comparisons I'm not saying one way is better that another, I'm not saying other people are doing it wrong - different approaches work for different people and that's cool. So before any photographers get pissy and start sending me ranty messages, cool your jets please. If my approach sounds like something you as a couple can dig, brilliant.
I very much tout myself as someone who'll fit in with your day, and ultimately that's my aim - relaxed you, relaxed your family, relaxed guests means pictures of you all being relaxed and that's what I want. Pictures of people who feel uncomfortable having their picture taken suck (in my world anyway).
So let's dive in....
Imagine this. You're having a nice chat with your granny, both of you are sharing a moment, how lovely, how more lovely to have a picture of it. In order to get a lovely picture of the moment a photographer often takes multiple pictures of the same scene in some cases up to 60, so they can choose the best one to give to you, now further imagine a photographer with a camera to their eye taking picture after picture after picture while you're trying to have a nice heart to heart chat, it may become rather distracting, certainly if they're there for a while hovering like a crazed paparazzi, and that's just one moment - imagine that happening throughout the day. Now that's fine if you're not bothered about a low key, non-intrusive approach to your day and some people aren't, like I say that's cool.
Here's my alternative though. I'll be stood talking to someone, your partner, a family member or a guest - we'll probably be talking about food...I like talking about food, or maybe music, or how nice the weather is (or isn't), anyway what we're talking about is irrelevant I guess. While we're talking I'll notice the lovely chat you're having with your granny, I'll already be in the right place to take a picture because experience teaches me subconsciously where to be and when. So I'm talking away to whoever, while observing what's happening around me, just at the point you and your granny are at the peak of your 'moment', maybe wide smiles, a little hand on the arm etc, I'll ever so slightly tilt my camera (that's in my right hand) towards you, I won't raise it to my eye, there'll be no big movements, just a little subtle one that no-one will notice - I'll take a picture. No-one will know I've taken it, not even the person I'm talking to. That's it, one picture, that moment is done. No interruption, no awkwardness, no photographer ;)
It's the morning of your wedding, there's usually a nice chilled calm first thing in the morning while the excitement is building. People getting their hair done, instagramming various things, selfies galore, messages from people arriving etc etc. Then the photographer turns up, you might be sitting down having breakfast and suddenly there's this stranger in your house taking pictures, usually silently at first until everyone feels a bit more comfortable. Here's the thing I guess, if I'm (as you) trying to do something like eat I don't want a silent stranger buzzing around me putting me off my croissant. It can be a bit of an awkward time and that can continue throughout the morning. Again - if you want a silent observer that's fine, I'm not knocking it, works for some people.
Here's my approach. I'll sit myself down with you (demand to be fed in a nice way of course), I won't tip up and start taking pictures I'll work on everyone feeling like they know me. Of course there'll be pictures, but I'll pace the taking depending on how that relationship building is going and I'll very much be a part of your morning so you and everyone else feel like they know me in a very short space of time. Ultimately I want you comfortable around me, and put more time into getting to that stage than I do taking pictures, now that may sound counter productive - a photographer saying they spend less time taking pictures than anything else but it pays for itself tenfold when it comes to quality of pictures of you being you vs quantity of pictures of you being uncomfortable.
The morning is super important from a setting the tone of the day perspective, I've played scrabble with families, helped dress the venue, picked up the wedding dress from a shop and all the things you'd expect of someone who's a family member. Building that relationship with everyone in the house, putting you all at ease is worth far more than taking 200 meaningless pictures in the morning. So yeah, if I'm invited to your wedding - expect to put the kettle on, feed me in the morning and treat me like a family member. In return you'll get some real pictures with proper character.
Ultimately the whole point of this post is to explain how I operate throughout the day, which is consistently not being a pain in the arse or making people feel awkward, or indeed actually behaving like a wedding photographer.
There's no hovering around in people's space making them feel uncomfortable, and while it may not seem like a big deal I rarely raise my camera to my eye to take a picture - which when I'm trying to blend in and be a part of your wedding day is actually a big deal because I'm not behaving like a normal photographer.
There's no awkward shuffling around in the background or mooching around like I don't belong there, I'm just like every other person at your wedding - just there enjoying it, the difference is I'm taking pictures while I do
Oh, I nearly forgot - the evening.. dancefloor pictures happen from the dancefloor, like ON THE DANCEFLOOR, I'll leave that there.
Shit, last point then I'll shut up, sorry I keep remembering stuff!! To be unobtrusive, blend in etc I don't think that can be done with a huge daft camera and huge dafter lens - I only have a little one, it let's me blend in properly. Don't mock it!
Right that's it, here's some more pictures from Abi & Marks relaxed wedding to illustrate the points made above. A selection of pictures, taken unobtrusively with no hovering around.
Thanks for reading !