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Thursday, January 27, 2011

What makes it Wedding Photojournalism??

Thank you Meghan McEwen from the Wedding Photojournalist Association for publishing this wonderful article on wedding photojournalism.  I hope to shed more insight and direction for TSP this year... stay tuned.


What makes a moment? Any wedding photojournalist will tell you that the very notion of 'making' a moment disqualifies it from actually being a moment. So perhaps the more pointed question is: What is not a moment?

A moment is not two hands, two rings over the bouquet. The flowers, the wedding dress pictures - those are not moments,  Those are clich├ęs that have traditionally been taken by photographers. They are details of the day.
WPJA medallion recipient David Murray agrees, broadening the concept of what a moment is not: "Anything that is staged," he states. He believes that when a photographer asks the bride, groom or guest to do anything at all, he becomes a part of the moment instead of the person capturing it. It can't be a moment, he charges, when a photographer's presence is known, and the subjects are acting for the camera. By his definition, a moment is "that time when the subject is so involved in what they're doing, that they're totally unaware that anyone is recording the moment."

A moment is when the brother in law jumps on the table and starts singing a song during the reception. That's a moment,  If you can recreate something, then it's not a moment. Good moments are fleeting. Good moments are one-of-a-kind. Once they're gone, they're gone."
Which is why anticipating the moment is so crucial.

There are foreseeable moments during a wedding that every wedding photographer should learn to look for. Once you learn to predict,  you can make sure you're in the right place to get the best shot.
Like the first time the father sees the bride in the wedding dress & that has the potential of being a real moment; and you should be ready in case it does. But a little trickier are the completely unexpected moments, which often make the best photographs of all.

You can't plan for it. You can try to anticipate when it might occur, but when a great picture happens, it's great because you can't expect what's going to happen, says Gold Medallion winner Gary Allen. "You have to be able to react in a millisecond. If you see something and then you pick up your camera, the moment is already gone." Diligence and patience, he says, are two of the most important hallmarks of capturing these fleeting moments. But paramount to everything is the ability to think clearly and quickly. "More than having a decent piece of equipment or a fast lens, the most important tool for the photographer is his brain," he explains. The camera has to be ready to fire instantly, sometimes from the hip, and you can't be off letting your mind wander. "I like to think I can react almost instantly," he says.

To react is to anticipate and then respond with action. We're all made up of our experiences, and we all have universal moments that we share as human beings.  Photographers should keep those cameras around their neck and be able to make split decisions on what lens is the one to use; Visually see how the subject is relating to the others in frame, while paying attention to the background.
In an instant, the image is there and gone.

The bride and groom might not have a problem with the coaxed moment or the set-up shot. But Allen warns that you cannot pass off the photographs to others, or the WPJA, as real wedding photojournalism.
"Real wedding photojournalism has to be truthful. Even if you remove a can of coke from a scene, you are altering", he says.
"My attitude is that of a photojournalist whether I'm shooting a wedding or the President of the United States. I'm not going to ask the President to step over here. And when I'm shooting a wedding, I try to stick to the same philosophy," DiBari agrees.  "A photojournalist never directs. He's reactionary, not proactive. It's what separates true photojournalism from photography," says David Murray.
pictures created by TSP are real moments, yes there may be some coaxing involved, but my goal is to disappear into the background and let moments unfold as they happen. The bride isn't always perfect, but the moment is real.  It really happened.  When the bride looks at her photograph, she's not going to notice an imperfection; she's going to remember that moment. There's more of an emotional tie.

Aside from your ethical obligation to the very definition of wedding photojournalism, anticipating and capturing a true moment yields photographs that are linked back to real memories for the bride and groom. If they were asked to pose, then that's what they'll remember when they look back at the photograph.

And if you do want to capture images of the details - of the ring, gown and flowers variety - DiBari recommends shooting those within the context of a real moment. "The bride might have gone to 16 florists before she found the exact flowers that she wanted," he says, noting how important such an image may be to a client. So, I'll make sure to photograph her bouquet in a scene that's really happening."

The biggest compliment is when a bride says "That's exactly how I remember my day.'"
That's always my goal, I want them to remember their day in a way where art and reality coincide.


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