08 November 2007

What's Wrong with Photojournalistic Weddings?

I had an internship with a man who started a portrait studio after a 15 year long career in newspaper photography. After winning many national awards and publishing a book of images, he felt that he was ready for the next phase of his career. He shoots weddings with great results at a fairly high price point. On of the first things he told me when I started with him was, "The word photojournalism is not an excuse to turn in crap."

Some professional photographers view the word photojournalism as a cover for something nearing amateur candids. What I was taught by a true professional in this area is that your photography skills matter more because you are working with the traditional knowledge areas of lighting and posing, but you are working on the fly to catch the best "moments" as they happen. It's a dynamic engaging form of photography that requires interaction with the subject and the ability to read what is going to happen next and the ability to get in position ahead of the action. These photographers spend years honing their skills to become professionals. The requirements of great lighting, color tone, and composition don't go out the door because you are a photojournalist.

Plain amateur candids are easy to produce. You simple back up, put everything into wide angle view and shoot away. Invariably a few will fall into the salable category. True photojournalists are artists, some of the most selective shooters I've seen, with distinguishing iconic works that capture universal emotions. Don't believe me? Study Henri Cartier Bresson.

Brides are now paying somewhere between $2,000 to $5,000 on average for a professional wedding photographer. Photojournalistic "moments" will certainly ad readability and variety to a wedding album. However, these brides are paying a lot for their treasured photographs. They deserve something more than what Uncle Harry can shoot. Make sure your candids are dynamic, have emotional impact, and great tonality.

The ability of a professional to integrate all of the traditional bench marks of lighting, posing, and capturing the best possible expression in beautiful memorable images is required. These are the images that are purchased for long term display in an album or wall hanging. If you are a bride searching for a good photographer, ask to see samples of albums they have actually sold to people to ensure they have the quality photography you want to tell your story. Make sure the person is a good fit with your personality and that you are comfortable with them. Ask for references for brides they have worked with. Don't accept a low quality of work because it's in a "photojounralistic style." Great photojournalists will hand you something unforgettable, a bad one will do no better than Uncle Harry.

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