what is documentary, photojournalism and candid photography?
What is documentary, photojournalism and candid wedding photography?
Let’s get the basics covered. You’ve read buzzwords on all of the blogs, glossy magazines and 100 different wedding photographers websites. But what the hell is documentary, reportage or photojournalism when it comes to wedding photography?
Like in any industry, buzzwords come and go. Rewind about five years and everyone was a fine art photographer. Jose Villa exploded onto the scene and took over the world. Using medium format cameras and film his soft dreamy colour palette and stunning craft of pictures dominated the industry.
Using film means no chance to check your exposure as you go. Images must be taken slowly, with a greater emphasis on staging a photograph to make it perfect. The grain coupled with shallow depth of field produced stunning images, and a trend was born.
In complete contrast to this, my work is much more heavily weighted to the documentary style, so let me explain what I mean by this.
Photojournalism, documentary, reportage…
…all fancy words to explain the same thing. We wait for the moments to happen, then bam, take the picture.
No asking you to pretend to put your makeup on again or to pretend laugh.
If it didn’t happen, then it’s not real.
Giving you something real to look back upon is the entire point. Another word that has slipped into the wedding lexicon is ‘candid’. Candids of guests might be the best way to explain the style. Heads thrown back in laughter, tears rolling down cheeks and trousers being split on the dance floor. If that’s what you call candid, then that’s what I do.
A definition of reportage photography in the context of weddings would be something along the lines of “taking ace pictures of guests being themselves without interfering, staging or manipulating a moment”. The term photojournalist derives from news photography, sending journalists out into the world to capture whats there and not to interfere in any way shape or form. The strict emphasis on pure documentation has been taken to new heights with the invention of Photoshop. All images that Reuters use for example are straight out of the camera, no adjustments for colour or cropping, the purest form of documentary. I am not quite so strict, a little bit of cropping here and there can be a good thing, whilst a purist at heart, there’s no harm in making a good shot, great.
A distinction needs to be made however as photojournalism can sound a bit like a soulless news style coverage of a wedding.
It is a means of telling the story of your wedding without interfering.
Everything that you see on my site actually happened, you should be able to look back on your wedding photographs and re-live the emotion that occurred at that time. It should ignite something within, it should take you away. I want you to look at photographs that tell the story of who you are, otherwise you will look back on the images and only remember ‘this is the shot where the photographer told us to do that’, and where’s the meaning in that?
Telling the story of your day
There are a few photographers who go all out documentary, just pure storytelling, no group photographs or couple portraits. However I have to confess that I like the couple photos too.
When I first meet clients, there will always be a discussion around ‘we don’t have any nice pictures together’.
This is an important part of the mixture between delivering what I believe captures the narrative of the day, but also listening to the client and delivering what you want.
Everyone deserves to look fabulous on their wedding day and having a selection of images that you can print and display in your home is an important part of the whole process. The time with just the couple enables you to relax and let it all sink in, its about 20 minutes and well worth it in my view.
What makes me different?
Here is a selection of images which redefine traditional wedding moments. I shoot for narrative, so my couples can look back on their images and relive the moments. I don’t shoot to win awards or to get featured on blogs, my passion is the story.
An important distinction to make between candid photography and just taking pictures and hoping that they make sense, is context. Without context a seemingly great image can fall apart. Piecing the story together, bit by bit to build the whole picture is what a great story. The best feedback is when clients tell me they laughed, cried and re-lived the moments upon seeing the pictures. This tells me that I have achieved everything I set out to do. Producing images of your nearest and dearest being themselves and tying together all of the beautiful emotions of a wedding day into a neat package.
Do you shoot details?
Yes absolutely. This is often what makes a second photographer really useful. Whilst I am shooting the in between moments the second can nip around and take stills of the subtle details which help pull the whole story together.
Being unobtrusive and shooting candids can be difficult. It takes some bravado and skill to get close to people and take their picture without them knowing. This is where my genuine love for what I do and love for people comes in. When shooting with a smile and affection, guests immediately warm to you and open up. Blending in with the guests and loving what you do is essential to capturing awesome pictures.
Do you take group pictures or is it all documentary?
Yes, I do take group pictures. I understand that whilst I want to deliver an artistic interpretation of your day, you also have certain photographs that you may really want. I recommend that you keep the number of group pictures between four and six. This can be coordinated with the groomsmen to ensure optimal efficiency. If you have a longer list of group photographs that you absolutely must have then I recommend hiring a second photographer. In order to deliver my best work I need to be in the crowd, in the mix capturing moments, the second photographer can undertake the majority of the group pictures leaving me to get in the mix!
If you would like to discuss your day in more detail then please do get in touch. Or alternatively head on to the documentary wedding photography homepage to navigate through the rest of the site or have a look through my wedding photography portfolio