What does the phrase “wedding photojournalism” even mean? People mention it, share it, but it is often misunderstood.
Wedding photojournalism primarily focuses on capturing a wedding day as it naturally happens in an unobtrusive way (without no or minimal interruption from the photographers/videographers).
This style usually consists of:
- Real emotions and reactions.
- Utilization of black and white images to tell the story.
- An organic, “in-the-moment” feel.
- Unawareness of the photographer (paparazzi feel).
- Multiple story-telling elements (activities) in the same image.
What are the benefits of shooting a wedding with this style?
When it is done correctly, it can produce images with a strong impact and lasting memory for you. Because the photographer captures the photos without you being aware of, the way you act is more natural, the emotions are more genuine. It can tell how your wedding story naturally progressed. Take this wedding as an example. You can see they changed, from being emotional and nervous before the ceremony to overwhelmingly happy as the day went on.
What are the cons anyway?
You cannot fake things (or pretend) and expect it to look real. Who would even want to fake things? Yes, there are many. Here is one common example: during getting ready, you schedule the photographer to come when everything (makeup, hair) is finished, and you ask him/her to take the shots when someone pretends to do makeup for you.
Wedding photojournalism focuses on real moments to make the images beautiful, instead of relying on posing and extensive post-editing. If you prefer perfect poses and lots of editing, you might not want to hire a photojournalism photographer.
What do couples need to know about wedding photojournalism?
Misconception #1: Photojournalism photographers don’t do posed shots.
Although wedding photojournalism focuses on real moments (as we said earlier), the photographers understand that in each wedding, the posed/formal shots like family portrait and couple portrait are important. Most of them will do if you request. This wedding had more posed shots than the others, but it still photojournalism style overall.
Misconception #2: Photojournalism is easy. Anyone can capture the “candid moment”.
Anyone with a camera can be a photographer. But not everyone can do wedding photojournalism because it requires far more training, experiences, and skills. Experienced photojournalism photographers must be able to predict what will happen and when to get to the right position BEFORE it takes place. They must be able to adjust camera settings on the fly to achieve good exposures. The composition must become their instinct because they don’t have much time to think about it. In addition, they must be good with both natural light and flash in order to adapt to ANY given lighting situation.
Wedding photojournalism is not only about the perfection, but also about the imperfection.
Nothing is perfect. Every wedding will have some flaws here and there and it is the photographer’s job to capture those imperfections. Personally, although I think perfection is good, a few imperfections are even better. They made my wedding real. I don’t want to remember only the good. I want to remember all of it no matter what they were. And I hope you will think the same way.
What type of couples typically like wedding photojournalism?
The couples who prefer real moments to posed shots love this style. Usually, these couples want the type of photos that can remind them of what truly happened at their wedding, how happy and emotional they were.
Couples who enjoy seeing unusual and non-traditional angles love this style. Because actions and moments are the core value of this style, the photographer has to utilize many different angles to make the images look interesting.
Also, the couples who tend to be shy in front of a camera will feel more comfortable with this style because they don’t have to pose much for the photos. We did some experimental shoots and conclude that nice and fancy poses won’t work if the subjects cannot naturally make a good facial expression.
How can you know you are selecting a photographer with the skills and experience to shoot this style?
The easiest way to know is to look at the portfolio, to see if the majority of them are candid or posed, and if there is intensive editing. Most of the images in their portfolios must reflect their photojournalism style, which is more candid and minimal editing.
Also, each wedding must be significantly different from the others in term of posing and moments. If you see a lot of similar moments, probably those moments were repeatedly posed for photos, instead of naturally happening.
Most photojournalism photographers use digital cameras instead of film cameras. Why? In order to capture the moments, they have to take lots of photos. It’s not difficult with a digital camera. With a film camera, it would be impossible because the photographer has to stop to replace the film after every 36 shots (or less). There are some hybrid photographers who do both film and digital at the same time. But why still film if it makes the photographer stop frequently?
How does photojournalism different from other styles?
Other styles depend on mostly poses, editing (either photoshop or expensive film lab processing) to make the images beautiful. Although those images usually look glamorous and fancy, they use similar poses, with similar editings that are often overly enhanced and retouched to look smooth and dramatic. Photojournalism images, on the other hand, always look different because every wedding is different, and they give the “in-the-moment”, organic, natural feel.
Does wedding photojournalism cost more?
As I said earlier, wedding photojournalism requires “more training, experiences, and skills” rather than gears and lab editing. Thus, it is expensive to hire an experienced photojournalism photographer. However, you mostly pay for the experience, not the cost of intensive editing or film processing.
Important final note: there are many photographers/videographers out there who claim themselves doing photojournalism. However, IMO, many of them are not doing photojournalism the correct way . Thus, the result you receive is not likely to be what you expect.