The "Untouched" Shots

  • Wedding Wednesday

another wedding wednesday with some advice about WHY shooting the reception UNTOUCHED is REALLY important from a photography standpoint. Now, before you read on, let me explain what I mean by “Untouched”.  When I say “I need to shoot the reception Untouched”, I mean I want to shoot a wide shot of the entire room before aunt Louise claims her seat extra early and throws her shawl down on the chair and her clutch on her place setting. How did Aunt Louise squeeze in to grab her seat before the doors even opened?  I have no clue, but they always find a way! The hilarious thing is that guests try to claim their seat for the

evening even when seats are ASSIGNED! It’s like they just need to know that their place is secure before enjoying cocktail hour! And so I’ve become a PRO at running through a reception venue and HIDING everyone’s shawls, clutches, jackets and SHOES. Yes, SHOES! I’ve seen guests leave shoes on chairs in order to save their precious seat! It cracks me up!! So what I do is I run in the reception (and “run” is a literal term, this is normally pretty rushed) and I hide all of these items so that I can shoot a shot of the entire room without extra JUNK everywhere! There are a few reasons why this shot is 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 Aunt Louise threw her purse on the table! :)


2. This is important for publishing. If you’re shooting a wedding that has the potential to be published or featured somewhere, you HAVE to have this shot. It’s a must-have when showing editors why this wedding should be shown off on their blog or in their magazine!  All editors (especially exclusive editors) will want a shot of the venues untouched. This includes the ceremony AND the reception.


3. 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 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 should you shoot a wide shot of the reception INSIDE, you should also capture the outside of the building as well.  These context shots are more valuable than you may think!! 


4. 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, have them 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 brides AND photographers, this is why making time for the “Untouched” reception shots is so important!! In the end, it helps everyone out! Some photographers have asked “Well how to do fit all of that in?!”. The key is talking about it and planning ahead of time. The bride is GOING to want those shots of her venue, but you need to make sure you have the time to make it happen! When you plan ahead, you are more likely to get your 10-15 minutes of “untouched” shooting time!!


xoxo, Katelyn
15 Comments Wedding Wednesday
  1. Becca reply

    LOVE that peach wedding with chandelier!! Fabulous post!

  2. Faye Bernoulli reply

    Amen! We actually created a Vendors site so they could download the images at their leisure. I love getting emails saying how happy they are to get the images because all they had was a cell phone pic! ;)

  3. Kimber Wassenberg reply

    This is SO true! I just shot a wedding this past Saturday and failed to get reception pictures before everyone was in the room. So, all the reception shots have people in the background and I really regret not getting those pictures pre-people. The backgrounds are so cluttered when people are in the scene! Thanks for solidifying my “idea” to make sure I get reception shots before people arrive and clutter the place! :)

  4. Stuart Bailey reply

    I have always believed that the best artists regardless of their craft are the ones that can produce art in a way that is recognizeable as theirs to the viewer. That is where you are.

  5. Rebekah Hoyt reply

    Amazing! I couldn’t agree with you more! This is something ALL brides need to see! It makes a world of a difference!

  6. Abby Grace reply

    Amen and amen! This is all so true! This is one thing that can seriously make me panic.

  7. rhodna reply

    what lens do you find you use the most during these detail shots? You have an amazing eye for this stuff – excellent as always!

  8. Annetta reply

    I’m with you on this one. I always try to get time to do these untouched shots. Thanks for this.

  9. Joleen Willis reply

    Katelyn! Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been making an effort to schedule “untouched” reception details time in my schedules, and I was surprisingly met with opposition! Brides wanted it, but sometimes the other vendors were not on board. Thank for explaining reasons and WHY this is such an important part of the day! And BTW, beautiful pre-touched scenery. LOVE IT.

  10. mary dougherty reply

    so true + great job MAking those shots happen! Not always easy

  11. Laura reply

    SO true! As photographers, we really need to help our brides and grooms understand that if they don’t allow 15 minutes of shooting time before the reception, they’ll wish they had once they see nothing but shots of tables covered in cell phones and purses.

  12. Tessa reply

    Amen to this! Question for you: Many of my couples here in the South get married at a church, and then the reception is held at a separate venue (country club, event facility, etc.) so I always have a hard time “beating” the guests there, as I typically do family formals in the sanctuary (most prefer it that way) so I’ held up. Any advice on how to approach family formals? Thanks for this great post!

  13. Sara W reply

    Yeah, I am really sad that we didn’t get the full-room shot at ours :( We were supposed to and the coordinators at the reception venue let people in before hubby and I got there (we were stuck in traffic)! Brides – make sure your venues know you want this shot, regardless of timing!! Things can, and often will, run late and I should have clarified with my reception coordinators ahead of time that Katelyn needed time in the room before people went in, regardless of the schedule! Thankfully Katelyn still managed to get a lot of amazing detail shots so that Matt and I could still see what everything looked like!

  14. Tangie reply

    I love this post; it is very informative. But can I just say I am cracking up imagining “Aunt Lousie” throwing her “shawl” on a chair to save her seat…too funny!

  15. Fotog Friday: Reception Details » Rebekah Hoyt Photography reply

    […] wrote an amazing blog post about getting the “untouched” reception shots.  I LOVE that she wrote about this, […]

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