What is photojournalistic wedding photography?
By Melbourne wedding photographer Teddy Tan
When the term “Wedding Photography” is mentioned, the idea some people have in mind, especially the older generation, are posed formal shots, studio lights, and everyone looking at the camera. This is mainly because cameras and lighting equipment in the dark ages are bulky and cumbersome, and the only way to take a photo is to do it in a properly controlled environment, like a studio. This style of wedding photography is generally termed traditional wedding photography. With the advancement in camera and lens technology, a new style of wedding photography is emerging – photojournalistic.
There is no official record of the first man who began to shoot a wedding in this style, but one could imagine how it all happened. After the invention of 35mm camera, roll film and on camera flash, people start taking these gadgets to places, like the battlefield of the Second World War – probably the golden age of photojournalism. After the war ended, military-trained photographers turn their talent to shooting for the press. News coverage of celebrities’ and royalties’ weddings probably triggered the interests of the general public, and a new style of wedding photography silently begun.
Why photojournalistic wedding photography?
Early to mid-20th-century brides and grooms have only memories of their weddings because their photographers simply weren't there. This had changed. People today want something better than their parent’s wedding photos: pictures that depict intimate and real moments - a tearful mother sending off her daughter, the first kiss as husband and wife, moments that are frozen in time, telling the story, something that the couple can look back in 20 years and relive the moment.
What happens before, during, and after the wedding?
Just like booking a traditional wedding photographer, clients would have arranged a meeting with the photojournalist, looked at his/her work, get to know him/her and the way he/she works. Photojournalistic pictures vary greatly in style, and therefore it is important to pick something you like. Equally important is the chemistry between the client and the photographer, which can affect the photo quality immensely.
There’s no set agenda for the photographer. Because clients are already familiar with the styles of photos they will be receiving, wedding photojournalists are often just told to “do their magic”. Photographs are captured spontaneously as the moments unfold, with an emphasis on emotions. The people will not be directed on how to pose and what to do. Some wedding photojournalist will also take formal posed photos in between wedding proceedings, so you can have the best of both worlds.
Because photographs were shot on the fly, exposures probably weren’t optimum. They often required post processing, and it is common for photographs to be delivered more than a week after the wedding.
By simply taking photographs of ‘whatever is going on’ is not photojournalism, it does not tell a story. Photojournalistic wedding photos should be a cohesive collection of images that are not only a record of the day’s events but are also images that capture as many “decisive moments” as possible.
A trained, experienced photojournalist will know to how to anticipate moments, record, and present them in the highest technical excellence possible, to really capture the essence of the wedding and be able to tell the complete story in pictures so others viewing those photos will be able to relive the event.
Teddy Tan is a wedding photographer based in Melbourne and he is proficient in both traditional and photojournalistic style wedding photography. He can be contacted through his website www dot teddytan dot com dot au