Photojournalistic wedding photography of woman photographing bride getting makeup done

What is Photojournalistic Wedding Photography?

Imagining photojournalistic wedding photography

Photojournalistic wedding photography is frequently misrepresented. Please allow me to set the record straight with an example. Imagine for a moment that you are planning a wedding in a world where photography and motion pictures had not yet been invented. Everything else is the same but there is no way of recording it. All you would have are your memories and the stories told to you by everyone else.

Visualise how your wedding day would unfold. What would you do in the morning? Would you wake up early or sleep in? Would you have an appointment at the salon or barbershop? Would your best friends and family be buzzing around you in frenzied preparation or are you the type to prepare by yourself, deep in thought and reflection? Would you need help getting dressed? How would you feel—would you start to get nervous? excited? or giddy with anticipation? Think about all of that and the other parts, too: that look she gives you, the smile on his face, a blush here, some tears there, great conversations all around, and enough hugs to make your shoulders sore the following morning.

Now think about all of those genuinely unposed, unprompted, and natural moments represented as photographs: that is photojournalistic wedding photography. It is an unadulterated photographic representation of the genuine emotions and relationships that bring your unique personalities to life.

I will not mince my words: photojournalistic wedding photography is the most authentic and true-to-life representation of your wedding day; it’s an unpretentious and honest glimpse at a pivotal moment in your personal history.

Defining photojournalistic wedding photography

Photojournalistic wedding photography is an unposed and undirected visual narrative of your wedding day. True wedding photojournalists have an unobtrusive presence that allows them to capture unstaged moments without interfering in their creation or altering the scene. A photojournalist’s influence over a photograph is limited to their timing, field of view, and the exposure settings on their cameras. Wedding photojournalism involves a great sense of anticipation, creativity, and quick thinking.

The results are a truly timeless photographic representation of your wedding day, its spirit, your love and union, and the wonderful cast of characters that are your family and close friends.

Contrary to popular belief, most photojournalistic wedding photographers are more than willing to accommodate requests for formal and group portraits. For instance, I always strongly encourage couples to set aside 15-25 minutes for posed family photos. This helps to ensure that everyone of note ends up being photographed at least once.

Wedding photojournalism according to photojournalistic wedding photographers

“No silly pseudo-fashion photos… just wonderful, authentic moments – Denis Reggie

“Your wedding photography will look like your wedding, and not a collection of Pinterest boards. Your images will be a unique work of art. They will show something that the wedding industry can never plan or inspire, because your wedding will look like how you felt. – Jeannie Guzis

“[…] I’m looking to capture the very heart and soul of your day in the most unique and beautiful way. – Carter Hewson

“My pictures, my weddings are real moments. The bride isn’t always perfect, but the moment is real. It really happened. […] When the bride looks at it, she’s not going to notice an imperfection; she’s going to remember that moment. There’s more of an emotional tie. – Michael DiBari

“[…] If I had’t seen them, these moments would have been lost and forgotten before the first dance. That’s the strength of hiring a great documentary wedding photographer. – Paul Rogers

“I don’t want my clients overriding memory of their wedding spending hours with the photographer. I want my client’s overriding memory of their wedding spending all their time with their friends and family. People, being people… at weddings. – Kevin Mullins

My photojournalistic wedding photography: the supercut

I think that’s enough words of wisdom for this page. Let’s get to the good part. Below, you’ll find a photographic “supercut” of my wedding photojournalism. Using some of my favourite photographs from the past several years, it will take you on a journey through the typical wedding day.

Wedding preparation: my favourite part of the day

Every great story must have an equally great introduction. It’s what sets the stage and clinches you into the narrative. Photographing the brides and grooms preparations is without a doubt my favourite part of the wedding day. The final several hours leading up to the wedding that they’ve been planning for up to a year or more are some of the most emotionally charge moments of the day. I’m fascinated by observing each individual family’s dynamics and the ways in which they let their sons and daughters move on to set the foundation for a new family.

Silhouette of best man helping groom with shirt buttons.
Groom and three men inside the Trump hotel Toronto.
The groom is emotional after reading his bride's letter to him.
Groom washing up inside hotel bathroom full of mirrors.
The groom gets help with his tie.
Woman helps bride with final touches to her hair.
Bride in big wedding dress gets help with putting on her shoes.
Bride's friend assists her with putting on the shoes.
Several hands doing up the buttons on bride's wedding dress.
The bride is helped into her wedding dress in the hotel room.
Two flower girls examine the wedding dress resting on a bed.
The bride and mother remove padding from the wedding dress to hang it up by the window.
The bride laughs in the makeup chair.
The bride is getting her makeup done in her living room.
Profile photo of bride getting her makeup done in bedroom.

Wedding ceremony

Chances are when you imagine the Platonic Ideal of wedding photography the first image that your mind conjures is that of a bride being led down the aisle towards the waiting groom. Photos of the wedding ceremony are the quintessence of wedding photography. Aside from being the most typical example of wedding photography, images from the ceremony are also the most crucial. The ceremony is the most stressful part of any wedding that I photograph. Unlike the rest of the day, there is only a small window of opportunity for capturing highly expected images, such as the walk down the aisle, the first kiss, the signing of the register, breaking the glass, and any of the other unique cultural and religious traditions. These truly fleeting moments keep me on my toes.

Wedding photography ceremony, flower petal confetti thrown at bride and groom by guests.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, bride and groom drink champagne toast to their wedding.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, bride and groom examine their wedding bands during end of a Catholic ceremony.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, bride signs the marriage register.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, bride and groom whisper as maid of honour signs marriage register.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, bride cries as she reads from a card.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, bridesmaids smiles at photographer.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, girl in tutu.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, incense smoke during Orthodox Christian ceremony.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, pages hold present wedding bands in hands.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, bride and groom and wedding party during the ceremony on Toronto island with Toronto skyline.
Wedding photography ceremony, bride hugs father.
Documentary wedding photography ceremony, crying bride with father walking down the aisle.
Documentary wedding photography ceremony, flower girl and page boy procession.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, groom with guests
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, reflection of organ player.
Photojournalistic wedding photography ceremony, reflection of bride in door window.
Wedding photography ceremony, little boy usher drops the wedding programs.

Wedding portraits: group and couple

At face value, it would appear that posed formal portraits are counterposed to the ideals of photojournalistic wedding photography; however, I always recommend them. Whether it is a formal portrait of you with your wedding party in the dark library of an estate, an editorial-style portrait of you with friends, or a portrait you are not aware of, I can do it all, and then some. (In fact, I bring my ProFoto D1 strobes and portable battery to every wedding—just in case).

Photojournalistic wedding photography is not about the categorical rejection of posed portraiture. Portraits are important; however, they should neither define nor monopolise your wedding experience. I believe that it is a disservice to waste hours of my clients’ wedding day photographing several dozens similarly posed photographs. A handful of great pictures is more than enough for almost everyone. Instead, use the time you will save not being your photographer’s puppet to enjoy yourselves on your wedding day!

Photojournalistic wedding photography portraits
Couple standing on edge of bluffs at the Toronto Hunt Club overlooking Lake Ontario.
Editorial image of couple with several guests at a country club.
Formal wedding group portrait inside Estates of Sunnybrook.
Bride and maid of honour portrait by two birch trees.
Reflection through grill of a classic Rolls Royce limo of the bride and groom kissing.
The groom holds the bride's wedding dress train as they walk towards camera.
Posed portrait of the bride and groom during sunset.
Minimally posed portrait of groom and best man in graffiti alley in Toronto.

The cocktail hour (or two): my second favourite part of the day

My second favourite part of a standard wedding day is the cocktail hour. It’s a very dynamic part of the day that allows people’s individual characteristics to shine. This is when I look for the little details that complete the overall atmosphere of your wedding.

Sadly, many wedding photographers use this time to photograph endless empty reception halls, centrepieces, mason jars, and the wedding cake. In an effort to document the decorative elements, they botch the human element.

My preferred approach is to roam through the crowd while carefully observing people. I’m on the prowl for interesting characters—people with a strong presence, compelling style, and other attention-catching quirks—and dynamic relationships as set against the backdrop of the decorative designs you’ve worked so hard to realise.

A silhouette of the bride in the distance with two guests in the foreground.
Guests enjoying cocktail hour at Airship37 wedding.
Several older women examine the bride's engagement ring after the wedding ceremony.
A male and female guest in conversation during cocktail reception.
Two female guests hug for selfie at Toronto island wedding cocktail hour.
Man with cameras in each hand taking photos of guests during cocktail hour.
A girl drinking sparkling water from a champagne flute inside an Italian castle.
Three guests talking during cocktail hour in backyard wedding in Toronto.
Three guests talking under dramatic lighting at Boulevard Club wedding in Toronto.
Photojournalistic wedding photography cocktail hour, a woman examines the wedding cake at Boulevard Club wedding
Photojournalistic wedding photography cocktail hour, an older woman cries sitting with guests.
Photojournalistic wedding photography cocktail hour, a man and woman in moody silhouette light at Fantasy Farm.
Photojournalistic wedding photography cocktail hour, a woman laughs with friends.
Wedding photography cocktail hour, a barefoot woman and other guests on a manicured lawn of a country club.
Photojournalistic wedding photography cocktail hour, three male guests take photos while bride laughs

Wedding reception (AKA wedding breakfast)

The dinner reception is usually an awkward time for wedding photography. The act of eating is rarely flattering when photographed. So this is typically a time for a breather and some food. However, there are quite a few things that are still happening. Many couples choose the dinner reception as a great time for toasts and speeches. It’s an unwittingly tactical strategy because the audience is more or less captive.

Beyond that, there are always some people milling around different tables talking with friends and relatives. Couples often use the time between speeches to make the rounds and visit with guests they have not yet spoken with.

Bride cries during speech.
A boy makes a funny face at the woman holding him during wedding dinner reception.
An abstract image of the maid of honour giving a speech.
Chinese bride in traditional red dress cutting the cake for groom.
Guests raising their glasses to toast the bride and groom at reception inside an old Italian castle.
A boy takes a photo of his friends at the dinner reception.
Bride and groom walking through a beam of sunlight towards their dinner table.
Parents of the groom giving a speech during dinner reception.
A woman cries while talking to a man during dinner reception.
Masters of ceremony telling a joke.
Bride and groom share a laugh during a speech at the dinner reception at Paletta Mansion in Burlington.
An odd couple of guests eating dinner and conversing during reception.
A woman adjusts the boutonniere on the best man.
The groom and bride laugh during speeches.
Two guests make funny faces for a selfie at dinner.
Guests listening to speeches during dinner reception.

The party begins: dancing and raving

At most weddings, the couple’s first dance signals the start of the party. Following the dance, bride and groom typically have a go at dancing with their respective father and mother, and then the guests slowly pour onto the dance floor. In general, I do not recommend having your wedding photographer stay much beyond the first dance unless you have special plans for that period.

Two women share an intimate moment during the late night party.
The bride and groom share first dance at Paletta Mansion with guests watching.
The bride dances with friend during late night party.
Groom and guests singing songs in a circle.
Photojournalistic wedding photography dance, wedding saxophonist plays on the dance floor.
Photojournalistic wedding photography of bride dancing with father to Iranian music.
Photojournalistic wedding photography dance, members of the wedding party start the dance party.
Photojournalistic wedding photography dance, a little girl being swung by a teenage girl on the dance floor.
Photojournalistic wedding photography, dj playing dance music is bathed in green light.
Photojournalistic wedding photography wedding guests break out into spontaneous eastern dancing.
Photojournalistic wedding photography guests dance.
Photojournalistic wedding photography first dance is a tango with bride in bright red dress.
Photojournalistic wedding photography first dance, bride and groom in silhouette.
Documentary wedding photography dancing party, man dancing like Michael Jackson.
Three wedding singers and a band perform.

Wedding moments in-between

While many weddings follow the general order of events outlined above, many others do not. Similarly, some parts of the day are not easily sorted into distinct categories. Below, you will find some of the moments I was unable to neatly classify. These are the so-called “wedding moments between moments” that some wedding photographers write about. They are beautiful, special, and genuine, and I am looking out for them at every turn.

Bride kisses groom on cheek during dinner.
Photojournalistic wedding photography of bride talking with guests after ceremony.
Bride and groom drinking sparkling wine by the limo.
Bride hugged from behind by woman.
Groom and his mother sitting down before the ceremony.
Bride, groom, and bridal party laughing.
Photojournalistic wedding photography of three people sorting helium balloons.
Photojournalistic wedding photography moment of bride greeting the flower girl.
Surprised bride with family after arriving by limo.
Bride and groom pose for their guests shortly after the wedding ceremony.
The bride with her friends inside of a minivan. She's holding an instant Polaroid photo of her photographer.
Bride and groom walking down a hall of mirrors with the bride checking out her red sari in the mirror.
Bride and bridesmaids descending the stairs at Hart House.
Smiling Japanese bride right after wedding ceremony.
The bride is emotional after the first look with groom.
The bride peeks out through a curtain at her guests.
Guest hugs groom during receiving line after ceremony.
Guest hugs bride during receiving line after ceremony.

That’s all, folks: now all you have are your pictures and memories

Well, there you have it. The gallery above visually summarises how I work as a photojournalistic wedding photographer from the beginning to the conclusion of a wedding day.

Once the wedding has concluded, so has your investment into everything that made it possible. All you are left with are beautiful, wonderful memories, and, hopefully, great photos to compliment them. If the photographs above tickle your fancy, then I urge you to contact me as soon as possible. Popular wedding dates are booked up to a year or more in advance. However, even if your wedding date is a month or two away, I may still be available, so don’t be shy and send me a message.