Signing Your Life Away – Surely You Need a Picture of That!

signing the register in St marys church saffron walden

It never ceases to amaze me what a kerfuffle negotiating permission to take a photograph of signing the register can be! There seems to be some ancient and unwritten law that taking a photograph of the register somehow breaches privacy as it is, technically speaking, a public document. Maybe the concern is that I will try to take a picture of people’s personal details and use them to my own advantage! – Like I became a wedding photographer just to do that!

Whatever the reason it’s always a point of negotiation when I arrive at the ceremony and say a quick “hello” to whoever is officiating. Generally, if it’s a civil ceremony and a registrar I will not be allowed to photograph the actual signing on pain of death. Ironically, many vicars are a lot more liberal and are often happy for the actual moment to be recorded. If not then sadly it’s a case of doing the traditional “grab and smile” picture of the couple holding the pen and posing for the camera – yuk!

It’s a shame when this is all I can do as your marriage certificate will go forth into life with you and live with you for decades to come. It’s a true historical record and one of the few tangible items from the wedding day that you will keep. What I much prefer being able to do it record the actual moment of signing. It’s frequently a time of great relief, joy and emotion….you have literally just got married and are about to step out into the world for the first time as a married couple.

Below: I love the momentary glance here. It’s a fleeting look that tells the story in a way that no set up or posed shot could possibly come near.

Wedding registar signing

Similarly in the image below the actual moment of joy is clear and you really feel part of the picture, part of the proceedings and the immediacy and emotion is really clear.

The next two pictures are my favourite types of pictures where you have two things happening at once. Almost like a main story and and a secondary theme complimenting and punctuating it.

…and  finally just a really nice simple and natural image. Worlds away from the staring at the camera posed shot and surely completely acceptable to any registrar or officiant? If you are planning your wedding at the moment and you like my approach to signing the register shots then, first of all, GET IN TOUCH  – I would love to hear from you! Secondly, have a word with whoever will be taking your ceremony and ask them if they would consider allowing your photographer to photograph the actual signing of the register rather than a posed set up shot. It really is well worth it!

jesus college chapel register signing


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