What is photojournalism?
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.
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.
Wedding Photographer Yorkshire – Richmond, North Yorkshire
Natural retreats aislabeck plantation is an absolutely amazing venue. Rain or shine the scenery is truly epic and the colours of the landscape are always in transition with the light. One could simply sit on top of the hill and watch the world go by. Autumn weddings are always special, the changing of the seasons brings about the most amazing change in the quality of the light. Everything seems much more crisp in the early hours and the midday sun is diffused by overcast skies.
When Hannah first got in touch she mentioned that she was involved in theatre production and that the use of light in shaping her dream day was key. Straight away I knew this wedding was going to be awesome. Friends and family went all out to put together the most amazing lighting setup. Old school filament light bulbs bathed each dining table in a warm yellow glow and multi-coloured balloons created a dramatic spectacle in the ceremony room. It was amazing at how something that seems so simple, when handled with care and a designers eye, can come together to fill a space and transform a room into a medley of colours and happiness.
Natural retreats aislabeck plantation
It was an epic six hour drive from south east London up to Richmond. The purchase of a digital radio for the car paid dividends, shout out to the 6 music team! Rocking out to Beastie Boys as the scenery changed from concrete to countryside really made me realise how much I miss the outdoor space. Starting to feel the need for a vegetable patch! One thing that becomes immediately apparent once the sun sets is how distorted ones idea of nighttime is. Being so used to light pollution I was driving at 10mph to stop the palpitations. Having arrived in the dead of night I had no real idea of where I was. The next morning my heart was lifted when I saw the view over the valleys, unreal. A photographers dream. Take a look at the images below and you’ll see what I mean.
We met some truly amazing people on this day. It was a delight to capture an amazing bond between not only an awesome couple, but their friends and family too. Big shout out to Chris Randle for second shooting, bossed it as always. I once drew my family tree and it turns out my family came from Yorkshire! This means there’s still hope that I could play for the cricket team! Maybe one day I’ll relocate and shoot weddings on hilltops forever. Until then, I’ll keep the memory of an amazing day spent with amazing people.
Wedding Photographer Essex
This is what it’s all about, all the love, all the joy, all the happiness, in one image. This is absolutely why people should get married, for the little moments where everything is right in the world.
Documentary wedding photography
If you asked most couples about their thoughts before the first dance, they would probably say they were anxious, nervous, possibly contemplating not doing it. But the above image for me sums up everything that is truly awesome about weddings and wedding photography. You become so completely lost in a moment, the emotion and reactions is so pure that you can’t hide how you feel, every part of you relaxes and in that split second you’re nothing but happy, click! a photographers dream.
Tom and Elle are awesome. Each of their images is full of such emotion, whether it’s epic smiles as the bridesmaids see the bride, or soon to be weds first glance, each image is pure undiluted happiness. It definitely helps when the light is so good, getting ready the dual aspect room produced a painterly quality to the images, mixed in with a diffused glow from an Autumnal sky and you’ve got contrast and a soft colour palette, ace! You’ll notice that the group photograph of all of the wedding guests is taken from an abnormally high viewpoint. This is because I was hoisted into the air (along with the videographer) on a hay bailer, mover..thing. I enjoy rock climbing…but I’m still afraid of heights, throw some leather soled shoes into the mix and a metal floor and you’ve got a recipe for angina.
Even the rain couldn’t dampen spirits post ceremony, everyone huddled together under whatever makeshift shelter they could find and still pulled out some awesome ‘hiyaaa’ ninja confetti throwing moves. I could ramble on for ages about what made this do so brilliant, but instead I’ll leave you here to kick back and enjoy the photographs. See you soon Essex, I’ll be back next year!