The reason I am passionate about photography is because it allows the unplanned to be scripted. Moments which may normally be lost can become the focal point (no pun intended) of our memories. Because of this, my first love has always been photojournalism. True photojournalism, which is sometimes contested in the world of photography, is based on a few main factors.
Daily Maverick explains that there are "three distinct parts" towards the "process" of photojournalism: capturing the image, editing (the methods used and to what degree), and how the image is presented. It goes on to define photojournalism as:
- "The image captured and presented after editing and processing must be a factual presentation of what occurred before the camera, with no directing, intervention, or prompting by the photographer".
- "Any analogue or digital processing must adhere to restraints that ensure the final image is an accurate representation of what was captured through the lens. The worst sins here are adding elements that were not in the single image chosen, or eliminating distracting or otherwise unwanted elements that were in the image."
- "The captions or text that accompany the image(s) must not misrepresent the content or context of the images."
In my opinion, these are the best kinds of images.
True photojournalism is what I aim for when I shoot almost everything, including weddings. Those authentic moments, which are what I am ultimately desperately seeking, are what lights my soul on fire. (Like the ones seen here). These moments are what's most likely going to be framed; imprinted in your senses. A great image doesn't encompass your essence; it captures a moment. It has the power to bring back all of your senses. A powerful photograph is the closest thing we have to time travel.
However, most of the time in wedding photography, true photojournalism isn't achieved. Usually the photographer will make suggestions as to where the best light is to have a bride's makeup done, or where she'll get dressed. Often a photographer will stage the bride in her dress, surrounded by her bridesmaids or other family members. Invitation suites are styled with vintage stamps, spools of ribbon, and other objects which may tie into the wedding. This is known more along the lines of, what The Knot refers to as "lifestyle". (I've also seen it defined as "documentary").
I'm not stating that any of this is wrong-- especially because I have definitely been known to move furniture, or edit an exit sign out of an image-- it's just how some photographers work, especially when they hope to get published in a top magazine or blog. If a photographer's goal is to get published in specific publications, he/she may even photograph the wedding in a certain way which will best support their intentions. These days, I suggest chatting with your photographer about this aspect of how he/she shoots before you book. If you're not interested in having your wedding shared online, it is especially important to consider how your photographer shoots, and how they "see" [I.E. represent] you, as it will only be seen by you/those closest to you.
In my [just about] two years of business, I've come to realize that the people who want me as their photographer are the people who value authenticity, passion, and spontaneity. They are spirited, bright, and understand the importance of living life in the moment. Almost all of my clients have said to me that they, and their significant other, chose me as their wedding photographer because they appreciated how I capture candid moments.
In the last two years I've listened to a lot of feedback from my clients and friends. My favorite compliments are when during a session they feel comfortable and having fun! I know that weddings can be stressful. I know sometimes there's a lot of pressure, emotions run high, and things can feel overwhelming. I try to arrive energized, upbeat--which isn't hard because I am in love with what I do.
One of my bride's sisters, Katie, shared with me; "Your laughter is contagious! It's great." On the wedding morning "at the hotel doing our hair and makeup you captured some amazing moments and made everyone feel comfortable... I myself felt like I had known you a while". Another client/friend, Cristan, told me that I have had the ability to make her laugh and make her husband comfortable (and look "super dreamy") during all the times I've photographed her.
Two of the most important questions a bride/couple/anyone looking to hire a photographer can ask of their potential photographer is--what is your style, and what can I expect from our session? While I may be the best fit for some, I know that my methods and that way I work aren't for everyone. Therefore, I think it's important for every photographer to communicate with their clients on not only how they see, but how it all comes together.
HOW I WORK
I thrive on getting to know who you are as individuals, as a couple, and as part of your family
I pay attention to these things because they are important to how I photograph you. I never, ever, ever want to portray the people in front of my camera as anything but who they are. It's as simple as that.
I will get close to you
I am hands-on in some ways, and like a ghost in others. Sometimes I will be right next to you, showing you how to pose. I do this so that I can show you an alternative way to pose, which may help you to ease into a more natural position. Experience has shown that if I am right next to you demonstrating the pose, going through the motions with you, it's easier to understand, and you can make it your own rather than interpreting my directions, which can result in you looking stiff. I know that I'm a visual learner, and I know I'm not alone! Demonstrating posing just helps some people "get it".
... And sometimes touch you
Sometimes I may move a hair from your face, or tell you that the wind is giving you a "hair scarf"; I will gently suggest wiping your eyeliner, remove lint from your jacket, tell you that you are looking beautiful... or constipated. I don't lie, and, it will probably make you laugh, giving me precisely what I want-- you more relaxed, and naturally smiling! Also to note: if you don't like hugs you probably shouldn't hire me. Or at least give me a disclaimer.
i'm a little quirky
I make a lot of noises when I shoot. There's lots of "ohhh yeahs!" and funny voices, too. It's kinda become my "thing". It's come to be known that if I'm behind the lens grunting, it's a good session. I once had a session during the winter where the weather was bitterly cold and especially windy. After our session, my client wrote me an email saying that she was worried about our session because I didn't make any crazy noises! I assured her it was because I was cold and concentrating on doing a good job, and not because it was a bad session!
Oh yeah... about that laugh of mine? It's more like a cackle. A hyena's cackle. It sounds identical to my paternal grandmother, embarrasses my kids, and gives Fran Drescher a run for her money!
I will include photos of you, your family, and/or your guests where you may not be considered conventionally "attractive"
A few years ago, I worked on a wedding for a photographer who told me she didn't give any images to her clients where the bride wasn't seen as "attractive". As for me-- if you look goofy as all get out, shaking your tail feathers to a song you love, and I make a picture from it-- you're going to see it. (And, in my opinion, no one is more beautiful than when they are able to let themselves have fun). Some of my most favorite images are ones where the subjects aren't "photo ready". Perfection is boring. I'd be willing to bet you and your family will get more out of that image of you busting loose 10, 20, 50 years down the line, than one of you looking directly into the camera, absolutely composed and gorgeous.
I am not a photographer who offers same-day slideshows
During the time you'd spend in front of a laptop of iPad looking at images I just took, you could be interacting with your Great Aunt who drove all the way from Mobile to see you get married, laughing with your sorority sisters, or shedding a tear when your grandmother says to you, I wish your Pawpaw could be here to see you in your dress! These moments are my bread and butter. They are the reason I do this! They are the reason you hired me!
A WORD ON EDITING
It's pretty clear I'm big on black & white conversions, so I am not totally sure on the verdict as to whether that is or isn't acceptable as far as photojournalism goes. I hand-edit each image to remove things like blemishes, razor burn, wild hairs, and yes, even a lampshade or distracting exit sign or two. These things definitely kick my work out of the true photojournalism genre, but I feel it's important in this field. Fifteen years from now I want you to remember how beautiful you looked rather than that giant pimple that turned up overnight.
Actually, two words on editing...
When I edit, I don't use presets. I don't (and won't) do color selection, either. These are just things that I prefer not to do in my business. Again, I'm not saying that anyone is wrong if they themselves do those things. What I'm personally drawn to the most are timeless images which most closely resemble what was actually happening. I don't want someone to look back at my work and say, "That looks very 2016". (And not in a good way).
Finding a photographer whose aesthetics closely resemble yours is imperative to your overall wedding photography experience. Sometimes, a photographer at the top of or over your budget just isn't who is going to give you what you want. That's the beauty in a saturated field like photography-- for both other photographers struggling with comparison, and those searching for one; if you're clear and honest with yourself and those around you on how you view the world, and how you go about things, there will always be those who stand behind you.