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By Photographer Dan Harris

A home-studio photography business in Jacksonville, FL
1124 Riviera St.  Jacksonville, FL  32207 (904) 398-7668

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Photojournalism vs. Typical Wedding Photography Styles

By Jacksonville Florida Photographer Dan Harris
Wedding Photojournalism Magazine Interview

Traditional Formal Photography

Wedding Photography Styles = Lots of Fluff Terms

Every day another photographer invents another term to describe their photography style and no two are alike! i.e.: Modern, Classical, Fresh, Contemporary, Romantic, Photojournalistic, Lifestyle, Documentary, Emotional, Fashionable, Eclectic, Reportage, Dramatic, Environmental, Magazine-Style, Artistic, Story-Telling, or some made-up word, etc. With so many undefined terms it just creates confusion in the marketplace. Ask any of today's wedding photographers if they do photojournalism photography and they will say yes because it is the popular thing to say, but what they classify as photojournalistic may not be what you mean.

Determine your own Style

Probably the most important thing for a bride & groom to do before they spend any time looking at photographers is to determine their own style. Look at lots of photos and put together a collection of the ones you like. Then separate your favorite photos into 2 classifications: those that are setup, posed, arraigned and require scheduled time away from (or an interruption of) your event (I call those traditional) and those that are produced during the natural course of your event without any change in the natural flow of the event (I call those photojournalistic). You may have a mix of both types at your wedding but your preferences will greatly affect your wedding-day timetable. The style of your photographs will also be significantly affected by your wedding venue. Photography carried out at a reception held at one of the UK's Britannia Hotels will be very different to that taken at a wedding on a beach in Thailand, for example. But a good photographer should be adapt to the location, and still provide you with exactly what you ask for.

Photojournalistic Wedding Photography has recently become very popular.

When something becomes popular, everyone wants to offer it. With popularity comes all kinds of variations, knockoffs and even imposters. Due to its high demand, some form of photojournalism is offered by many of today's wedding photographers. Today there are more definitions of what photojournalism photography is than there are photographers who practice it! The savvy bride will determine what style works best for her personality and event and then will seek a photographer who best emulates that style. Here are some basic comparison definitions:

What is Traditional Wedding Photography?

For simplicity sake: Traditional wedding photography can be recognized as formal color photos where people are posed and looking toward the camera --say cheese! (Traditional is characterized by lots of direction, involvement and control from the photographer). A typical photo shoot with pre-planned ideas and lots of direction or 'magazine style' posed images and artificially set-up 'romantic' fantasy images stems from the traditional, studio-type photography. Today any photography that requires setup and direction, (planned time for photos) stems from the traditional. Advantages: predictable & repeatable results (i.e. cookie cutter) pre-planned, easy to execute. Disadvantages: time consuming, uncomfortable posing, stressful imposition on event plan and timetable, not fun, can be fake looking, not real.

REAL Photojournalistic PhotographyWhat is Photojournalism Wedding Photography?

The dictionary defines Photojournalism as telling a story with photos. In wedding photography today photojournalism has come to be known as documentary photos of wedding-day events as they happened. (With no involvement, direction or control from the photographer). The photographer captures a moment as it happened without orchestrating it. Identified as being more raw, realistic and factual, stemming from newspaper photography.

Unadulterated photojournalism is often marked by the photographer having no influence nor any manipulation of the event but only documenting what was naturally occurring without any input (Cut to me saying: newspaper photographer on assignment)... Much more challenging than 'set-up & dress-up' play photography. Advantages: natural looking photographs, low stress, real memories of real moments instead of contrived ones, the photography happens around your event timetable rather than as an interruption of it. Disadvantages: unpredictability, you won't know beforehand what your favorite photo will be or even what will be taken, you may not 'look your best' in every photo as honest photojournalism isn't always pretty.

Today there are photography classes being offered on how to take 'posed photojournalism' --now there's an oxymoron!

 My goal is to have the least amountFAKE Photojournalistic Photography of influence possible on ones wedding day (since it is not my day, but your day!) While creating the best photos possible.

Today many traditional photographers are taking black and white photos of formally posed or set-up groups and claiming them to be photojournalism. (Cut to me saying: FAKE- Faux journalism) You only need to look at wedding-day photographs and ask is this a picture of what the photographer made happen or is it what was really happening. Does it look natural or contrived, real or fake?

Will the best memory of your wedding day be relived by the photos that you were forced to fake? Or will they be the genuine loving look, laugh, tear or hug captured as a fleeting moment in time. I think you will find over time that the realistic and natural photojournalistic photographs will be your favorite.

Casual Candid PhotographyYears ago when a 'traditional' photographer would take non-setup photos during the reception he would call these 'candid's' they aren't really posed or formal, but are usually casual pictures with some type of photographers influence (look here and say cheese) and would be considered more photo-realistic rather than photojournalistic. The 'look here and say cheese' type photos are fine if you want the photographer to continually be an interruption of what is going on.

Can't anyone take photojournalistic photos?

There is a misconception that anyone taking pictures of 'whatever is going on' is a photojournalist and you only need a fancy camera to be able to do this style of photography. The problem: documentary pictures of 'whatever is going on' don't really tell the complete story. A trained, experienced photojournalist will know what to photograph and how to photograph it to really capture the essence of the event and be able to tell the complete story in pictures so others viewing those photos will be able to relive the event.

Which Wedding Photography style is best?

It's a matter of personal choice. Hiring several different sets of photographers at your wedding isn't the most practical as they usually only get in each others pictures (besides not many people like to be swarmed by paparazzi on their wedding day!), So this new demand for photojournalism has forced the traditional photographers to try and learn photojournalism and the photojournalistic photographers to try and learn traditional wedding photography. (Needless to say it has been good for the instructors!) Having worked as an assistant to a 'traditional' photographer, I find they have a totally different viewpoint as to what is photographically important during the wedding day than a photojournalist. A photojournalistic approach works toward capturing more of what really happened rather than what the photographer made happen.

The end results have proven that not many photographers are exclusively good at both styles. Each style of wedding photography requires different skill-sets and many years of learning. Today's bride only needs to look at a lot of wedding photographs to determine what's their favorite. Then by looking at a lot of photographs from various photographers they can determine who is capable of giving them what they want.

Versatility will probably serve you better because when all is said and done if your photographer can only perform well in one particular type situation you may end up with poor photos taken at your event when the circumstances didn't match the photographers situational expertise. That is why you want to see lots of photographs from your potential photographer in lots of different situations so you will know exactly what they can deliver.

What is right for you?

There isn't one Wedding Photography Style that's right for everyone, it's totally a personal preference decision. Coming from the photojournalistic side of the equation even my 'traditional' photographs are more realistic than fanciful.

At the end of the whole debate is the most important person, YOU --the client, you ultimately deserve to get what you want from your wedding photography experience. (Cut to me stating the obvious: Duh, isn't that why you pay a professional?) That is why we say 'Your day ...Your way!'


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1124 Riviera Street Jacksonville FL 32207