Falling into the aisle, blocking the bride's big entrance, clicking the shutter at an emotional moment and spoiling the mood... wedding guests with cameras don't always get it right – but it doesn't have to be that way.
Guests can get shots just as powerful as the pros if they follow a few simple rules. Pro wedding photographer Markus Morawetz started out taking shots at friends' weddings. "I was going to leave my camera in the car, but the couple asked if I would take some snapshots on the side," he says. "It was important not to get in the way of the pro, but as a guest you have the advantage of being less stressed, and you can experiment with technique and style."
To help ensure you get it right on the big day, here are Markus' top five dos and don'ts – accompanied by shots taken by wedding guests.
Stellan Jara, a humanist wedding celebrant (someone who conducts non-religious wedding ceremonies) based in England, says that at most ceremonies he officiates at, it's usually made clear at the start that taking photos is not allowed during the ceremony. "The couple wants friends and family to enjoy the moment, leaving the professional to take the shots," he explains.
According to Markus, that's not enough to stop some people spoiling the occasion. "You'd be amazed how many guests get up during the ceremony to take pictures from the aisle. I've had my shots blocked at the moment the bride enters, during the exchanging of rings and when the couple kiss," he recalls.
Markus advises shooting from unusual angles. The large 7.5cm Vari-Angle touchscreen with Touch and Drag AF on the Canon EOS M50 makes it easy to shoot from almost any vantage point, and over or around crowds. "Use your surroundings to frame your picture and give you a good backdrop," advises Markus. "If you still don't have a good view of the bride and groom, concentrate on the guests' emotions."
"Too many cameras can be unsettling, often because the subject doesn't know where to look," says Markus. Leave formal group shots to the pro and focus on capturing relaxed shots of clusters of guests behaving naturally. "Couples love photos of genuine moments and emotions: laughter, tears, cheering – whatever the day brings. Be part of the party, soak up those emotions and you'll be better placed to capture them," he adds.
Stellan agrees: "People are happiest near the food and drink, so head that way to get some casual group shots of guests having a good time."
"The Canon EOS M50 has a great autofocus, as well as features such as Face Detection," says Markus. It can also quickly connect to smart devices and social media, so you can view, share and post your shots instantly.
"If you know the couple well enough, you can get away with capturing any less than flattering – but memorable – moments and expressions, which the pro might refrain from shooting," says Stellan. Guests have a distinct advantage over pros when it comes to recognising unique mannerisms and quirks, which make for unforgettable candids and intimate portraits. A fast burst mode, such as the Canon EOS M50's 10fps, is perfect for these fleeting opportunities: you can capture a succession of frames and select the best later.
"Be mindful of the background and find the most beautiful angle of light, then use light and shadow to make your photo even more spectacular," says Markus. "If you stay relatively close to the couple, there will be plenty of great moments to capture."