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. 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
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!
Dodford Manor Wedding Photography
It’s difficult to tell you just how popular Dodford Manor is, and when you’ve photographed weddings at the venue, you quickly come to terms with why. Firstly, it’s incredibly adaptable, I photographed four weddings at Dodford this year, each one completely different. Despite being a barn conversion it takes on different persona’s so easily that each wedding sings with it’s own uniqueness. Secondly, with the changing of the seasons the view from the hills that overlook the barn are constantly in flux. Whether it’s the changing of leaves from lush green to warm auburn or clear spring skies to angry autumnal clouds, there is always something new to discover.
When you meet a couple called “The amazing Team Fosh” you know their wedding is going to be cool, and it didn’t disappoint. You need to be cool to pull of Josh’s outfit, and he absolutely owned it. A mohair suit is a classic match for vintage chic, mix in some pastel colours and you’ve got a killer look. Here’s Josh to tell us a little more about his outfit: After months and months of trawling Instagram and Pinterest for the look I wanted it was relatively easy and cost effective to sort. Bear in mind we had 6 gentlemen in completely different shapes and sizes, wearing a miss matched jacket to trouser combination, we found that Next actually did an extensive range and if they didn’t have sizes in store, we were able to order most of them online. The only issue we found was with my waistcoat. Online was showing out of stock in my size, everywhere but the Sheffield shop, some 120 Miles away. In a spell of desperation, I ended up paying a guy id never met to go in to store and post it down, for a fee. Having been in the same situation before, he kindly accommodated and made a pretty penny in the process. The shirts were tailor made to size by Charles Tywritt.
Fiona wore Ophelia by Belle & Bunty, the length of the dress was perfect and fell so elegantly, her bridal portraits above are amongst my favourite images taken this year. Dress: Ophelia by Belle & Bunty. Accessories: Wasn’t keen on accessories. Just my usual earrings and I kept my nose ring in (Not sure that went down too well..) Flower crown made by our florist and the bridesmaids and flower girl had matching. Shoes: Flats from John Lewis. I’m nearly 5’9 heels just aren’t necessary! Plus I’m all about feeling comfortable. My dress wasn’t restricting and was made of silk so you can imagine how comfy I was on the day!
I absolutely hated dress shopping after the first day. I did the usual pinterest board of dresses and was quite particular with what I wanted. I think I went to 8 different shops and even convinced Josh to drive me to Wimbledon (not close by as we live near Bedford) to try on a dress that is only stocked in this particular London store. Poor Josh had to wait around the corner (he found a pub so don’t feel too sorry for him.) While I tried on the dress… Which I didn’t buy!
I ended up on a recommendation from my aunty to try ‘Fairy tale weddings’ in Towcester. I fell in love with the Belle & Bunty gown and then had the task of convincing Josh it was worth the price…
We also had Greg (my brother) make a stencil so that we could add the hashtag onto some of the wedding props we had. It was also on the number plate for the wedding car. The crates were found on Ebay and weathered in my parents garden for 18 months to look rustic. The idea is that this hashtag will grow hopefully as our family grows and we can find our pics on Instagram and Facebook easily through this.
As you can see the table plan was a big hit with Josh. He is a huge fan of a pint or two and is very particular with what he likes. He had fun drinking his favourite lagers and pale ales to keep the bottles for the table plan!
My best friend and also one of my bridesmaids asked her dad to make the bar that the bottles sat on and it worked a treat. Not to mention how good it looked too.
How did the proposal happen?
Josh was very sly and booked a day off work with my manager. I woke up on the Friday morning to get ready for work to be told I wasn’t going! He took me to a place in The Cotswolds (Painswick) and we stayed in a boutique hotel. After a wonder around in the woods he made me clamber to the top of a beacon where he took lots of silly pics of me (standard practice for us!) and the amazing views of Wales in the distance.
It was on the walk down that he had slowed and propped himself on one knee (whilst I wasn’t looking!)
Planning was easy to begin with and harder towards the end. I imagine everyone finds this. We found the venue within a week of being engaged, the date was set and we went from there. We had about 18 months to plan. We sorted things very early on and we were confident on what we both envisioned the day to be like. We had a meeting with Liam (our photographer) which set our expectations for the day as he is pretty clued up with weddings ;-) Met with the florist and had a lesson on what the flowers I liked were actually called! Brought excessive amounts of vases and bunting and the rest is history!
As we are quite jovial with one another we found it difficult to find a good reading. We ended up re-writing one that I found on a wedding site through google and asked Leigh (bridesmaid) to read this for us. She is funny so put a good spin on it for us. We both really like motown music so it was easy to pick our songs. I had to listen to Luther Vandross – Here and Now about 50 times to ensure I wouldn’t get teary on the day, walking down the aisle! (so did my Dad.)
My best memory was seeing Josh as I walked up the aisle. Still gets me! I didn’t notice anyone else in the room and thought I would be terrified to do ‘the walk.’
All flowers were provided by ‘Sweet Rose Florist’ based in Wixams which isn’t too far from where we live. We found Lisa at a wedding fayre in Milton Keynes and after talking to her we arranged to meet for a consultation on what flowers we’d like. We had lots of gyp, flower crowns were all gypsophelia and the flower girl wand was bound with gyp also. Bridesmaids had eucalyptus and astilbe. My bouquet was eucalyptus, juliet roses, astilbe, sage green succulents and gyp all tied with hessian. The juliet roses were dotted about to add the peach tone. Eucalyptus was spread on the top table with small vases of gyp and Juliet roses. On the tables were vases filled with long stem white hydrangeas.
Where did you head off to for your honeymoon? We stayed in Dubai for 4 days at The Atlantis and then on to Mauritius for 10 days at The Long Beach Resort. Both were absolutely amazing and I definitely had the blues after coming home. I would definitely recommend Mauritius for any honeymooners. They made us feel very special and couldn’t do enough to accommodate us.
Do you have any advice for any other couples looking to tie the knot? Enjoy the build up. I absolutely hated it as I stressed myself out so much which in hindsight was so unnecessary. If you have everything in place the day will run smoothly if you have questions or worries, email your suppliers! They have done hundreds of weddings and are used to being asked the same questions.
Pre-Wedding shoot at Stowe School, Buckinghamshire
Sometimes you have to start a shoot with an idea you just sort of had. It might seem a bit mental ‘The first picture I’m going to take will involve me pointing the camera at the floor’ but it breaks the ice as I look like a bit of a lemon and everyone gets a free laugh. This engagement shoot was an absolute classic example of two amazing people who tell me that they don’t like having their picture taken…but then end up with awesome pictures. Gemma and Dave completely owned it, look at that thousand yard stare, piercing! Stowe is such a cool place, so many different locations to shoot in, Roman inspired architecture, Grecian pillars…the thirteenth tee. Undulating pathways and huge trees creating canopies of green make amazing backdrops and help you feel all alone in an estate which is probably a handful of hectares in total. A big shout out to Jeff Newsom and his Voltron of Awesomeness for the inspiration, his use of colour has always fascinated me and it’s been a great year for learning from the masters and pushing my photography in new directions. Combining warm and cool tones can really change the dynamic of a photograph and the proper application of colour balance and dynamics can turn a picture into all kinds of awesome. I love this series as Gemma and Dave seem so connected, no awkward posing, everything is calm and relaxed, just two people being in a moment together. It’s awesome when you can feel the warmth just from smiles and hugs, can’t wait for the wedding next year, roll on 2017!