Wedding Photos 101
Choosing the right style
By Jean Donnelly
August 17, 2011
Picking the right photographer means more than finding a professional thats local, affordable and available. It means learning a bit about photography itself. Most wedding photographers are adept at one of two styles: traditional portraiture or photojournalism. A photographer who works in one style will produce radically different images than a photographer who works in the other style, even if theyre at the same wedding.
The type of photography you request depends on your taste. You may fall in love with one approach and find the other less than ideal. Or, you may be crazy about both. Read on to learn about these artistic techniques, and how you can work them to your advantage.
Traditional Wedding Photography
Photographers who focus on traditional techniques will produce the images that are bound to please your parents and relatives. A traditional wedding photographer places an emphasis on formal images, portraits and still life. The photos will be properly staged and well lit.
Most traditional wedding photographers will still take candid shots. These photographs will document the major highlights of the event: the walk down the aisle, the entrance at the reception hall, the first dance, the toasts, the first bite of cake. These images are likely to delight you, but will not surprise you. A traditional wedding photographer may not be looking for creative camera angles or unpredictable moments. The photographer may be a bit intrusive, too, asking for specific poses and angles. Some may ask you to pose for photographs throughout the reception. Couples, however, may find this comforting because it ensures theyre getting the shots they paid for.
Photojournalistic Wedding Photography
Photojournalists have ventured into wedding photography, both out of interest and financial gain. Some are retired newspaper photographers, while others studied photojournalism in school and have applied the craft in the wedding arena. A photojournalist operates much like a reporter, and focuses his or her efforts on documenting the eventnot interfering with it. A photojournalist will not direct a moment as much as record a moment as it occurs. Modern couples love the interesting angles and unique perspective. You may have images of your husband smiling at a private joke, or of the two of you stealing a kiss before the ceremony. The shots have an artistic edge.
The main drawback is that youre relying on another persons nontraditional skill set and vision to capture an important event that occurs only once. Make sure to request samples of previous weddings the photojournalist has shot. A photographer may boast a prolific career in journalism, but shooting crime scenes and war zones differs from covering a wedding. Also, candid moments are harder to catch because along with expertise, it requires speed, predictions and often, luck.
How to Hire
Hiring a team of photographers to document your wedding is one way to handle the divide. One photographer can cover the formal shots and posed moments, while the other photographer can stay in the background to capture the rest. While this option makes the most sense, its also more expensive because youre hiring two people instead of one.
Some couples choose to hire a traditional photographer, and rely on friends and family for the candid shots. If your guests are artistic types, this option will work well. But if your guests are largely artistically challenged, your formals will be the only photos youll keep as the candid shots may be out of focus, poorly lit or overexposed.
Some journalistic photographers can also handle staged shots. This can be an ideal compromise if the formal shots are less important to you. After all, youll only need a few hours to take posed portraits, while journalistic shots can occur throughout the entire eventfrom the moment you start dressing with your maids until the moment you shut your hotel suite door.
How to Succeed
The key to looking radiant in your photographs, no matter the style, is to stay relaxed. Rather than focusing on your photographer, focus on your partner and how happy you are. Dont try to pose (unless asked). If you exert too much energy in hiding your hips or sucking in your cheeks, you will look unnatural.
If you hire a photojournalistic photographer, avoid looking for the photographer at all costs. In fact, ignore the photographer completely and go about your day as if youre not being observed; this way, you wont look self-conscious in the images. Allow the photographer to tackle the task at hand, which is to document you laughing with your friends or crying during a toast. You will look relaxed and natural; most importantly, youll look like you.