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I’m here for another Wedding Wednesday with some advice. UNTOUCHED is REALLY important from a photography standpoint. You might be wondering, “What exactly does UNTOUCHED mean?” When I say “I need to shoot the reception Untouched”, I mean I want to get a wide shot of the entire reception room before anyone places their bags and coats on chairs. You wouldn’t even believe how many guests sneak into the reception to snag their seat or place their items down before they’re invited to enter the space. This also includes those with assigned seats. It’s like they just need to know that their place is secure before enjoying cocktail hour!

Many times when the reception and wedding venues are in different locations I’ll send my second shooter ahead of time to the reception immediately following the ceremony so he or she can snag these untouched detail shots before anyone arrives. When it’s just me I run into the reception (and “run” is a literal term, this is normally pretty rushed) and I hide all of the items left on tables so that I can shoot a shot of the entire room without extra JUNK everywhere!

There are a few reasons why these shots are VERY important!!:

1. This may be the ONLY way the Bride and Groom and their families will ever see the “finished product”. They have worked and planned for MONTHS to make this evening perfect and yet they never get to see the room without people everywhere. So while they are talking with old friends and family at the cocktail hour, I grab shots of the entire room, centerpieces and tablescapes so that they can see how amazing everything looked before anyone throws their purse on the table!

2. It’s a part of the story. Someone once told me that they shoot a wedding as if they were trying to show a relative who couldn’t make it so that they can see what it was like! So obviously if you want someone who wasn’t there to really get the feel of the day, you need to show the venue and the setting for the event. So not only do I want wide shots of the reception inside, I want to also capture the outside of the building as well.  These context shots are more valuable than you may think!! 

3. I like to shoot it for vendors! Untouched shots are the shots vendors love to receive! If you’re a florist and you designed an incredible room but never had a shot without junk on the tables, that would be so disappointing! Venues, florists, event designers and rental companies will automatically LOVE you if you can provide them with beautiful, FREE promotional images! Yes, FREE. I don’t charge vendors for images.  I think that would be kicking myself in the butt! Why wouldn’t I offer them something that could REALLY help them and in return, then they’re most likely to refer me to other brides because they know if we work together again, they’ll receive free promo images! It’s a win-win!

So when you’re wondering how to make time for these shots the key is talking about it and planning ahead of time. The bride is going to want those shots of her venue, but I need to make sure I have the time to make it happen! When I plan ahead, I am more likely to get 10-15 minutes of “untouched” shooting time!!


This blog post was inspired and adapted from Photographer and Educator Katelyn James.

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The Untouched Reception

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Hi I'm Kara. WEST MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHER, WIFE, AND MOM OF TWO. I STRIVE TO TEACH MORE ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY AND HOW TO GET THE BEST FROM YOUR IMAGES. I'M SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE!

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI  WEDDING AND SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER