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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.