Understanding the Art of Wedding Photojournalism
Some photographers love a perfectly posed portrait, others look for the key moments during weddings, and then there are those who look for moments that happen in between. Wedding photojournalism may not be every photographer’s style of shooting, and you may not even agree with it, but it’s undoubtedly a beautiful way to capture your couple’s special day. Photojournalism is about documenting moments as they unfold without interrupting the moment. And similarly, wedding photojournalism is about going beyond the critical moments of a wedding and capturing moments just as they are. Portraits are essential, but they are not the whole story, so if you are looking for some guidance on photographing a wedding using the photojournalism style, here are some things you should know. 

Exploring Wedding Photojournalism 

1. Get To Know Your Couple

Infographic stating establishing a personal relationship with your couple helps them get comfortable with you

As you capture your couple’s wedding in a photojournalistic style, there might be moments where you have to get really close to them, and in those moments, they might be crying or sharing a personal moment with a loved one. In order for them to feel comfortable around you and let their guard down, they need to feel a personal connection with you, which you can work on if you make the effort to get to know your couple. Establishing a personal relationship with your couple will help them get to know you better as well, which will in turn help them be the most authentic version of themselves as you photograph them. 

2. Allow People To Be Themselves

Black and white portrait of a bride and groom smiling
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @loversoflove

One of the most important aspects of wedding photojournalism is letting your couples be who they are. And not just your couples. Everyone you photograph should be allowed to be who they are when you photograph them. If you are putting them in poses they are not comfortable with or asking them to do something that’s just not them, it’s probably going to reflect in their body language and in your images too. When you get to be someone’s wedding photographer, people allow and trust you to see things in their lives. So as you get to know them before the wedding day arrives, building trust with clients is also essential.

To gain access to moments that make up the most powerful photojournalistic photos, you need to be trustworthy. These photos are not just for you or your couple. Years down the road, their kids or their grandkids will also see these photos, and when they see a picture of your groom looking at his bride for the first time or your couple just sharing a sweet, candid moment together, they’ll go, “Man! Mom and dad really are soul mates.” When you don’t judge and give people the permission to be themselves, make their wedding day their own, they will trust you to narrate their stories. Wedding photojournalism is all about storytelling by capturing real moments, and for that, your clients need to be able to trust you.

Suggested Read: Build Trust With Clients

3. Look Beyond The Key Moments

Infographic stating try not to force or set up a situation for a photograph

The first look, the first kiss, the grand entry, the send-off – these are moments that every wedding has. And yes, it’s absolutely crucial to get these photos, but if you are photographing the wedding as a photojournalist, you must be mindful of the different types of moments that happen in between things. You have to be ready as things unfold. You might take a photo of the bride all dressed up and prepared to leave for the ceremony, and right as you take that shot, her sister might crack a joke, or her mother might say something nostalgic, and you might miss her reaction simply because you got her full bridal portrait and thought that was it. You have got to be ready at any and all times.

Portrait of a black bride
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @dianenicolephoto

Also, try not to force or set up a situation just to get a photo. Remember that this is not for you. It’s for your clients and their families. And this isn’t a bad thing either. You would be surprised at what happens when you just let your models do what they think is normal. Shoot your scene differently, looking past the expected stuff. Wedding photojournalism is about focusing on the now rather than thinking about what you will be doing 5 minutes from now or what photo you are going to take next. 

4. Don’t Get Caught Up In Gear

Yes, your gear is essential. It’s what allows you to photograph your couple’s special day. But it’s not necessarily what will impress your clients. So if you are preparing to dabble in some wedding photojournalism for the first time, you don’t have to go out and buy a new camera or a new lens. The key to using this style is assessing the situation and using the correct gear. Try to work with as much ambient light as possible. There may be instances where you need to turn to artificial lighting, but if you have light available, try using that for a different perspective and look. As you shoot more weddings in this style, you will eventually find a setup that works for you, and then you can simply stick with that. And this includes the lighting you use. 

Suggested Read: The Minimalist’s Guide To Wedding Photography Gear

5. Practice 

Infographic stating hone your skills by taking photos of your family and friends

Whether it’s figuring out your perfect setup or knowing when to anticipate moments that would perfectly fit with the definition of wedding photojournalism, just practice. Practice at home, with your family, friends, whoever is willing to be your model. Like any other photography style, it takes practice to get to the point where you are entirely familiar with the ins and outs of the style you choose. With wedding photojournalism, you won’t necessarily have a set shot list to guide you through the wedding. You will have to anticipate moments and capture them at the right time as they unfold. As you practice more, you might not get exactly what you will get as you shoot weddings, but at least it will help you improve your technique, give you lighting setup ideas and enhance the way you shoot.

Focus On The Now

Black and white portrait of a bride and groom dancing
Image Credits: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography

As a wedding photographer, you may be used to creating a shot list and following that through a wedding. And of course, that might work for you, and it does work for most weddings. But if you are going to use photojournalism techniques at a wedding, you have to go beyond the key moments and find those little moments in between that show who your clients are. And this is where that comfort level comes into play. If they are comfortable with you, if your clients trust you, then they will feel like they have the permission to show you who they really are, and the same goes for their family members. Even if you don’t understand the intricacies of this style right from the start, that’s okay, practice when you are not shooting weddings. Just remember that it’s all about your couple and you having the understanding that you are not just taking portraits, you are telling a story through your photos.

At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about seeing you evolve as a wedding photographer. But if post-production is taking too much time and getting in the way of that, let us help you with our professional photo editing services. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.

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