The thing about wedding photojournalism is you have to stick to your guns, especially when it comes to setting up pictures. I’m a member of the WPJA, the Wedding Photojournalist Association, who have extremely strict guidlines for members. Many of the WPJA members trained as news photojournalists, as I did, and carry the skills and ethics from news gathering to wedding photojournalism.
An Unobtrusive Approach
That means I do not interrupt the flow of the day, even if asking a couple to do something again might make a better picture. It might seem like a small thing to ask someone to move because the light is a little better over there, but where does that direction stop? A couple asked to recreate a moment for the photographer early in the day, will spend the rest of the day seeking direction from the photographer, or worse still pausing to pose for a picture throughout the day. Not only does this create false moments with false expressions, it really hinders the flow of the day and nobody gets the chance to be themselves.
News Photographers Make Great Wedding Photographers
It can be a very rewarding approach. A wedding photojournalist spends their time watching and waiting. We are constantly looking at the direction and quality of the light, the relationships between everyone in front of us, and trying to anticipate the unexpected. It’s a great feeling when it works, and you know you’ve captured one of those moments.
It’s also frustrating when you’ve seen the potential for a great picture, waited, then at the last moment something changed and it didn’t work out. You don’t ask them to do it again. You just move on and look for the next picture.
Here’s a great example of when it didn’t quite work out.
A Beautiful Setting For A Wedding
This is the beautiful Prussia Cove in Cornwall, where the Bride and Groom had hired the beach house for the ceremony and reception, and a dozen cottages around the cove for their guests to stay in.
The groom and best men were in one cottage, and had to walk along the coast path to get to the beach house. I’d already found a great spot to photograph the groom on his way to the ceremony with the stunning coast as the backdrop.
I took this wide picture of the group approaching, then waited for the groom to be right in front of me. It was looking good, as the group separated into a line. Then, as the groom approached, someone behind asked him a question, and he turned away from the camera as he walked past. All I could see was the back of his head. That picture didn’t work, but many others did, and I just moved on to the next one.
Here’s the best man carrying his shoes.