iPhone-tographers, Unplugged Weddings and Ferris Bueller’s Wisdom

Hi Sparkle-Fans! Long time, no blog. What can I say? I’ve been out living. Laughing, loving, and stretching my wings. Dancing every weekend, developing my talents in my non-dance career, making more time for the people that matter, and taking each day to find balance, happiness and opportunities to grow and mature. Quite honestly, I’ve had neither the time nor the desire to document it all – and I couldn’t be happier with my reprieve from the weekly social media rat race of selfies, gig recaps, and meaningless credentials.

After all, as I’ve pleasantly discovered….life goes on whether or not you pin it, tweet it, or Instagram it.

I guess that’s the whole point of this blog post.

And I’m not alone. Many of us recovering social media junkies are looking to “unplug.” There’s been a lot of talk in both the Orlando wedding industry and in my circles of photographer friends about the throngs of “iPhone-tographers” that have popped up at weddings recently, and the refreshing trend of “unplugged” wedding ceremonies, where guests are respectfully asked to power down and ENJOY the celebration. In fact, the blog Offbeat Bride recently featured an article about unplugged weddings: http://offbeatbride.com/2011/06/unplugged-wedding

As a wedding entertainer, I personally observe avid iPhone-tographers at virtually every one of my gigs. Just a couple of weeks ago, I worked a very lively 50th birthday party in Orlando’s beautiful Lake Nona neighborhood, where virtually everyone got up and danced except for one guest, who sat on the couch with the camera pointed at me the entire time I danced. Instead of making eye contact, she watched my entire 30-minute show through the tiny screen on her phone. I made a funny game out of trying to make her crack a smile, and at one point, even said, “Come on! Put down your camera and dance with me!”

At the end of the day, who am I to tell my audience members how to enjoy my show, and my clients’ events? This guest might have documented my show as a keepsake for the hostess and Birthday Boy, or maybe to share with friends or family who live far away. I am constantly taking pictures and video to share with my family in Connecticut, as social media is one of the ways we stay in touch.

But I wondered if this guest might have missed out on something big. She could have learned a couple of new dance moves, at the very least. Or laughed at the Birthday Boy’s attempts at snake arms. Or better yet, she could have been part of an intimate connection that can’t be captured true-to-life on a smart phone. While an expert professional wedding videographer can come pretty damn close, an average person with an iPhone can’t capture the excitement in the air at a milestone special occasion. I know for a fact that when I go back and re-visit the cheesy iPhone shots I’ve taken on vacation or at a friend’s party, the fuzzy image on my phone never quite lives up to what it was like to actually be there. And do I ever go back and look at those photos of my lunch that I painstakingly lit, set up and grunged up on Instagram? Negative. And I’m pretty sure none of my Facebook friends do, either!

The moral of the story?

1. If you’re a bride or groom and considering an unplugged wedding, I strongly encourage it. So would your photographer, officiant, and everyone else who’s working hard to help you plan the wedding of your dreams. You can find all kinds of cute signs on Pinterest to nicely remind your guests to power down. And most guests will appreciate the opportunity to quietly ENJOY your celebration of love.

2. I’m OK with iPhone-tography during my shows! Just be a doll and tag me in your photos, post them on my Fan Page, or send me a copy of the footage ;) Oh, and don’t forget to put your phone down once in awhile and enjoy the moment, because belly dance is probably NOT something you see every day!

3. Wedding guests: put down your smartphone, hit the open bar, get on the dance floor, join the belly dancer (ha!) and HAVE FUN. The bride and groom hired a professional photographer and maybe even got a photo booth to document it all. Your job is to enjoy the big party they spent all that money on, and all that time planning!

4. To quote the wise Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Brides, are you considering an unplugged ceremony? Wedding pros, what do you think of this trend? Belly dancers, what do you think of guests taking pics and video of your shows? Please leave a comment below!

Comments · 1

  1. I find it sad when people are too busy filming everything to actually experience it. I’ve seen quite a bit of it at my gigs recently, but also in other situations… Like when I visited Pompeii last summer, and loads of the tourists there were walking round the whole place holding camcorders and only seeing everything through a tiny screen. If you’re only going to look at it through your camera, you might as well stay home and just watch a TV documentary!

    I actually wonder if at dance shows, it might be a way for socially awkward people to distance themselves from the dancer and avoid interaction that might make them uncomfortable(I’m British – awkwardness is what we do). There was also one show not too long ago where I spent a couple of sets thinking a kid was filming me on his phone, only to eventually realise he was actually playing a football game and carefully ignoring me. Embarrassing…

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