Is Wedding Photojournalism Just Another Trend
Current Trends In Wedding Photography
By Jeffrey House Photography
Every photographer has their reason or reasons for why their approach to wedding photography is the best.
And there always seems to be a lot of heated discussions between the hardcore wedding photojournalists and "traditional" wedding photographers. But are they just current trends in wedding photography?
I think it's important to understand there is no one way or right way to photograph a wedding. Much of a photographer's style is linked to their life experiences. These are the things that form our views, opinions, and how we see the world. Every photographer will bring something unique to their photos and your wedding. It's up to you to decide whether that fits your vision or not. With that being said, let's take a closer look at the differences between wedding photojournalism and traditional wedding photography.
Wedding Photographers Albany, NY.
If you know anything about me, you know that I don't believe in photographers "defining" their style(s).
I mainly feel this way because even photographers with the same "style" have great disparity in their photographs. For a label or style definition to be valuable, it needs to give our clients a clear vision of what to expect.
Defining our photography style falls short of accomplishing this, and a large part of being a professional wedding photographer is helping our clients find solutions to their problems.
If I had to define our style, I would define it as "Commercial Wedding Photography."
It's a style that means we're proficient in many photography styles and we're always involved in continuing education to ensure that we meet the demands of current wedding photography. As commercial wedding photographers, we take exceptional care in creating and producing quality imagery. Unlike many wedding photographers that give minimal attention to post-processing, we believe our Signature Production of the images is just as important as capturing them. We highly value our overall process and the quality of our final product.
Is Wedding Photojournalism Just Another Trend?
Before we get to the meat of this article, I think it's worth understanding both my inspiration and intent for writing it.
I recently read a few articles on wedpix.com - a website dedicated to wedding photojournalists. The articles were titled "Is Wedding Photojournalism A Fad?" and "Wedding Photojournalism Myths." I have included the links to both articles in case you feel like checking them out.
After reading these articles, I felt compelled to create my own article. I strongly believe in wedding photojournalism and I believe it has a place in wedding photography, but I feel these articles have some conflicting messages.
My article is meant to clarify some of the statements shared and help couples decide what method is best for them, and their wedding.
What Is Wedding Photojournalism?
Wedding photojournalism is a photography style in which the photographer observes and records the events of a wedding as they naturally unfold, without any interference or manipulation. Wedding photojournalism has a strong storytelling quality.
What Is Traditional Wedding Photography?
Traditional wedding photography is a photography style that involves observing and recording the events of a wedding. This includes capturing moments as they naturally unfold without interference or manipulation, and involves capturing moments utilizing natural and artistic posing techniques. Traditional wedding photography offers a strong storytelling quality.
My first impression of the wedding photojournalists featured on wedpix.com, is they believe wedding photojournalism is only correct way to photograph a wedding, and their approach to wedding photography is genuine, whereas traditional wedding photographers are somehow untruthful.
With that being said, during this article I don't want to speak in absolutes. As a "traditional" wedding photographer myself, I respect any photographer for the style they choose to call their own. And I'm sure there are many wedding photojournalists that respect my views too.
Sharing Perspectives, Myths, and Contradictions
Wedpix.com made reference that the naysayers claim, "the idea that tears and laughter recorded forever will soon be going out of style."
I agree whole heartedly with photojournalist, Peggy Bair, when she said, "when real life goes out of style, we're all in trouble."
The truth of weddings is found in the emotion - the smiles, tears, laughter, and enchanting glances. If we ever lose that, humanity as we know it, is doomed. If you truly believe that capturing the emotion of a wedding will somehow go out of style, you should probably consider another career.
I would like to make my feelings very clear about wedding photojournalism. It's NOT a fad. Capturing real moments and real emotion is something we do at every single wedding we photograph. And when you capture a heartfelt moment shared between a couple getting married or a bride and her father, it's deeply satisfying.
However, we also incorporate several other styles of photography while photographing a wedding because it's necessary. This may surprise some people, but wedding are not candid events.
Weddings are not candid events - they have candid moments. Much of a wedding is scripted and planned.
Some of the photojournalists on wedpix.com took the time to elaborate on some common myths surrounding wedding photojournalists. I found many of the comments made during this article interesting and I wanted to further explore them.
Myth #1: Wedding Photojournalists Can't Create Good Portraits
The photojournalist community feels this is an illusion created by traditional photographers to protect their business and essentially discredit photojournalists.
They further stated when it comes to "posed" photographs, they are fully capable of producing posed portraits. In fact, when they create them they focus on portraits that are "natural and artistic." They use techniques that include "layering their subjects for photo depth" and "creatively selecting backgrounds" to create unique compositions and interesting elements in the environment. While it may seem contradictory for photojournalists to capture posed shots, almost all photojournalists are willing to take posed photographs during the planned formal sessions.
First of all, it doesn't seem contradictory, it is contradictory. By definition, photojournalists do not interfere or manipulate the scene in any way. If you're going to interfere, direct or manipulate the scene in any way it's no longer photojournalism. What you just described is "portrait photography." It's okay to call it what it is.
While photojournalists believe traditional photographers are creating false illusions of photojournalism, the same could be said in return. Photojournalists have created the illusion that everything a traditional photographer photographs is over posed, over manipulated, and over dramatic. Traditional photographers are very adept at capturing real emotion and real moments.
I really hate to burst the photojournalists bubble, but "layering your subjects," "creatively selecting backgrounds," and "creating unique composition" (or interesting elements in the environment) are all part of creative professional wedding photography. Unfortunately, these are not fresh or earth shattering techniques. It's something we routinely do during every engagement session and wedding.
Myth #2: Photojournalism Techniques Will Look Cluttered Because They Don't Alter Their Scenes
The photojournalist addressing this myth stated they are highly-skilled at only moving themselves, not their subject, to capture a scene and keep the image free of clutter. They take photographs from different angles and elevations to remove distractions. They pride themselves on not creating "fake or unrealistic" backgrounds.
I'm sorry, but once again I need to burst the bubble.
Photographing from different angles and elevations is once again, part of creative professional wedding photography.
These techniques are not revelations.
That being said, even though you change your angle or elevation - and remove clutter or distractions - it doesn't necessarily result in a well composed or interesting photograph. Bottom line, changing angles and/or elevation is not always a solution.
As a traditional photographer, I will move whatever I'm photographing to remove clutter and distractions. I will use "creative backgrounds" that are anything but "fake or unrealistic."
Just as a photojournalist will take "posed pictures" because their clients want them, I will move my subject to more natural looking, compelling, and interesting locations because this is not only what my client wants, but it's what they expect.
Myth #3: Anyone Can Be A Photojournalist
The photojournalist delicately argued that traditional photographers believe photojournalism is walking into a room and taking random pictures of things in the room. They also implied that traditional photographers use a "machine gun" (rapidly taking pictures with the hope of capturing a good photograph) approach. Wedding photojournalist, Michael Albert, feels traditional photographers view photojournalism as a "fad" because it upends their paradigm.
While I love Michael's use of the word "paradigm," I said in the beginning of this article that I didn't want to speak in absolutes. I know plenty of wedding photographers, myself included, that don't view wedding photojournalism as a method of taking "random pictures" or "machine gun" photography.
While I'm sure there are a lot of photographers guilty of utilizing these amateur techniques, it's far from the mainstream belief. The same photographers engaging in these methods probably fall into the "cheap" photographer category too.
Whether the photojournalist community likes it or not, there is no shortage of traditional photographers capturing "real moments and real emotion."
With that being said, anyone photographing a wedding and capturing real moments and real emotion without interference or manipulation, is a photojournalist. Just because they don't photograph a wedding 100% without interference, doesn't make them less of a photojournalist than anyone else. Just as photojournalist taking "posed" photographs isn't any less of a portrait photographer.
The photojournalists on wedpix.com made a few additional comments throughout their articles that are worth mentioning. Let's quickly take a closer look.
Wedding photojournalists don't want couples to be fooled by "trendy photojournalism." The example of trendy photojournalism included "photographing the wedding dress on a hanger."
Hardcore photojournalists will repeat over and over again, photojournalism is all about real moments and real emotion. However, trendy photojournalism is aimed a wedding dress on a hanger? A wedding dress on a hanger is not hard hitting photojournalism. Even though you may have been performing a headstand, to change your angle and elevation, it's still considered creative wedding photography.
Taking Photographs of a bride being dipped, tilting the horizon, and jumping bridal parties are not photojournalism.
Maybe I'm missing something, but as a traditional wedding photographer, I've never labeled or even considered these types of images to be photojournalism. In fact, I don't know any photographer that does. Whether you like those images or not, it's creative wedding photography. Many times, clients request these photographs because they like them.
Wedding photojournalism seems to be more of a buzzword these days, than a style. Many websites that are geared towards helping couples plan their wedding lead you to believe you need to hire a wedding photojournalist. In my experience, I don't see many traditional photographers speaking badly about photojournalists. In fact, in an effort to avoid losing business, I see more photographers claiming to be a photojournalist.
Unfortunately, it's not good when any photographer deceives a client. I know we work very hard to provide clients with tons of useful information so they can make well informed decisions that best meet their specific needs. When photographers deceive and manipulate clients, it only reflects poorly on our industry as a whole.
As professional photographers - traditional and photojournalists alike - it's our job and our duty to represent ourselves honestly and treat our clients with respect. We can never lose sight that they are allowing us to be part of their wedding day. We should always feel honored when a couples places their trust in us to help them make this day as great as it can be.
I'm a firm believer in wedding photojournalism and I fully agree that capturing real moments and real emotion is a huge part of wedding photography. I can't imagine a photographer that doesn't want to capture these images for their clients.
In reading the views shared on wedpix.com, I found some information interesting, but I also found several mixed messages. I wanted to highlight these mixed messages and share another perspective.
So, how does this help couples looking to hire a wedding photographer?
Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a better understanding of photojournalism. Maybe you already knew or may you learned that photojournalists are capable of taking posed images and traditional photographers are perfectly capable of incorporating photojournalism.
Every photographer, regardless of their style, brings something unique to their photographs. When you're hiring a photographer you need to determine if what they bring best serves your needs.
We wish you the best of luck in your search for a wedding photographer!
We Would Love To Hear Your Thoughts - which style do you like better - traditional or photojournalist and why? comment now!