The Evolution of Wedding Photography
Wedding photography has changed significantly in the digital age. Traditional photographers would set up staged scenes with the bride, groom and wedding party under ideal lighting and perfect composition to get their portraits. This method worked, but it lacked a personal touch. It didn’t capture enough of the moments in a wedding that the couple would never want to forget. Common wedding photography also takes a lot of time for the entire wedding party by forcing them to join for dozens of group shots and staged poses. These types of photos grew old over the years. Every wedding seemed to have the same exact photos. Sure, they were good images and a nice memory for the couple, but something was missing.
The Photo Journalism Approach
The digital age of photography has brought us something new – wedding photojournalism. Rather than staging shots, photo journalists try to capture the story of the day. The photos are spontaneous, attempting to capture people in the moment without any interference. This lets the photographer roam freely, acting as an almost invisible force documenting the day for the new couple. Photojournalists use primarily the available lighting and are forced to react quickly on the fly making adjustments to capture the best exposure possible. In essence, the photographer has become a story teller and uses his camera to capture and tell the story of a wedding day. Every customer now gets customized pictures of their day rather than a box of cliché, staged photos that everyone has seen time and time again.
While spontaneity is indeed key, the photo journalistic style does still involve taking a handful of staged group shots, but this is only a small percentage of their total work.
While today’s cameras are amazing from a technological standpoint, they still have limitations. Thankfully, editing software can clean up just about anything that a camera can’t do properly. Most photographers who shoot in this method require much more time in the post processing area than a traditional wedding photographer because the majority of the shots are naturally lit. This is bound to create some imperfections in many images that need some minor tweaks by the photographer. Correcting lightning, exposure or even adjusting skin tones takes time when there are hundreds – if not thousands – of photos to be sorted and edited. The editing period can take a week or more to complete before the photographer finally is able to send photos back to the happy couple.
Even engagement photographers have evolved to follow the lines and rules of photojournalism. A photographer may follow a couple around in a park or on a walk and capture images spontaneously instead of giving them 14 cheesy poses to try in a field of long grass. Photojournalism has truly breathed a fresh life into the industry.
Wedding photo journalism has essentially become the new standard for wedding photography in the past few years. The Wedding Photojournalist Association was created as a community for photographers to join as well as for couples to research potential photographers for their big day. They hold a handful of contests in various categories throughout the year which lead to some amazing submissions. Check it out for some inspiration, or just to be impressed.
In conclusion, modern camera technology has given photographers greater range and ability to get the shots they want in difficult locations. This gives them the ability to monitor scenes at a wedding and capture the moments as they happen, rather than creating them away from the actual celebration. Wedding photojournalism documents the entire day, from the hair and makeup room to the dances coming at the end of the night. It requires more skill and time from the photographer, but the end result is worth the means for the couple who now has a complete visual story of their happy day. A good photographer will be able to find moments that the couple might have even missed, allowing them to see the day from different perspectives.
If you are looking for a wedding or engagement photographer, make sure they are going to document your day, rather than direct it.
Check out this video by B&H on wedding photo-journalism