There are a few outdated practices where weddings are concerned that as a documentary wedding photographer I’d prefer to do away with. The setting up of the ‘fake’ signing of the register is high up on my list for sure! Keep reading to see how I photograph this which is so much more natural & creates beautifulk results every time!
I have also just updated this article to include information on GDPR practises & how that could impact photographing the signing of the register & the legalities.
Usually, it’s in civil ceremonies where the officiant tells me that I am not allowed to photograph the ‘actual’ signing of the register, but then they will set up a fake one where the couple is asked to pretend to sign – usually with a horrific feather pen or some such.
Don’t get me wrong – I understand the moment gives you chance to just sit & breath for a second but we don’t have to pretend to sign the register to do that.
Unfortunately, the majority of officiants I come across in civil ceremonies think that this is still the must have shot. No, thanks. I will tell you to put down the pen, move aside the register with the page that is so obviously blank and just be with each other. Look at each other & just take a moment to reflect what has just happened.
I have always wondered why we can’t take photographs of the signing of the register. So I did a little research. There is actually no legal reason why we can’t photograph the signing of the register, it has zero to do with data protection (as all certificates are in the public domain) but actually comes down to the ruling of each individual officiant / area. It’s not the photographing of the register book that’s illegal but the copying of the information that is.
Now, when I originally write this GDPR was not a thing. Now that it is, I guess it could be a bit of a grey area legally speaking. If I am photographing the signing & signatures are clearly legible then that could fall into having to keep your information safe & not to share it with others.
My approach here is to photograph the signing (if allowed) without being able to see what is being written. Which, to be fair, is what I would do anyway.
Believe it or not, I’m not zooming in on the details on the registry *all of which can be obtained by anyone that pays enough money to see them by the way* but I am photographing the moment – the moment you put pen to paper, often from an angle that doesn’t even allow me to see what’s on the page. It’s the people, the emotions & the real moments that I’m looking for – not the details on the page. So it’s a real shame that some officiants still make it very clear they are not going to allow it under any circumstances.
Surprisingly, churches tend to allow me more access & flexibility when photographing the signing of the register than officiants at civil ceremonies – you can see my church wedding policies *here*, so once you have read that you might be surprised at this statement!
Wedding officiants tend to give me a funny look when I ask them to take away the pen & the book, but I’m never bothered by that – what matters to me as a wedding photographer is getting the most natural shots & wonderful shots out of a potentially awkward moment.
If you are still looking for a creative, natural wedding photographer to really capture the true beauty of your wedding day, please get in touch! I’d love to hear from you!