In search of inspiration for my website update, I did a quick Google search for “wedding photojournalism” the other day.
It was surprising. The two concepts of “Wedding” and “Photojournalism” have been, well, married, for quite a while now. Yet most people still seem to be unsure what this relationship is supposed to be. There is a lot of misinformation about what wedding photojournalism is and what wedding photojournalists do.
Wedding photojournalism implies not just a style of photos, but a different way of taking photos — an all-around different approach to photographing a wedding. Whereas most traditional wedding photographers do a lot of directing and posing of photos, wedding photojournalists get the best photos from events as they unfold naturally, without doing much directing, if any. Photojournalists are practiced in the art of getting great photos without attracting attention. The best of them fade into the wallpaper and get awe-inspiring photos of the most personal, emotional moments of life.
I think this makes a difference in three ways: you have a different experience on your wedding day, you have different photos, and you have a different album.
On your wedding day, you can expect that a wedding photojournalist will keep posing to a minimum. Of course, there will be the group photos (it’s a myth that wedding photojournalists do not shoot these photos) but beyond that you can expect that the photographer will be close to you, following you and shooting photos, but not telling you what to do. Almost every couple I have worked for has said “It was so relaxing working with you,” or some variation on that theme. While I’d like to think that this is a sign of my amazing personality, I have to admit that it’s more likely the style I choose to shoot: a style that frees the couple up to just enjoy their day and not worry too much about the photos.
Which brings me to the photos. You don’t have to pose for them, but you give up something, right? Actually, no. When people are having fun and enjoying themselves, they take better photos. Given the choice between posed photos and natural photos (I have been known to sometimes pose a couple of photos!) couples usually choose the natural photos, hands down. So even when I am shooting portraits, many times I try to get the subject to laugh, to have fun, to play or dance around. When you and your guests are simply having fun, the most beautiful photos result, as long as you have someone around who knows how to spot and capture those impromptu moments!
Most wedding photojournalists also take lots of different photos, from the hair salon in the morning to the sleeping children at the reception. When I’m shooting a wedding, I never stop looking for photos, which means the photos I send my clients go way beyond any shot list. After all, who would think to put “four year old ring bearer break dancing” on a shot list?
This photo of flower girls following the bride around holding her train was the result of continually looking for sweet moments during the wedding day. The photo was taken as the wedding party was walking back to the reception after taking group photos, normally a time that a photographer would expect nothing of importance to be happening.
And of course, the photos are the key ingredients in the album. Sorry, album designers, but I have to say it. Photos, not backgrounds, not layouts, not fancy picture shapes or frilly borders. Photos are the main event, and if you don’t have great photos, no amount of PhotoShopping or fancy wrapping paper-looking background is going to save that puppy.
Just recently I decided to include albums with all of my packages because I felt that, if you are going to have storytelling photos, you should be able to have them in a book. But I believe the opposite is true as well. If you are going to spring for a gigantic wedding album, then you should have a story (in photos) to make it worth your while.
Next post: More Wedding Photojournalism Myths: Exposed!