What if you’re looking for a documentary wedding photographer? That is, a photographer who has more of a photojournal approach to photographing weddings? What questions should you ask?
Many couples look for a photographer who can cover their wedding photojournalistically. If that describes you, then today’s tip is especially for you.
Because you have to discern whether the photographers you’re interviewing can truly deliver documentary reportage, or if they’re simply saying they can, because it’s become kind of a marketing buzzword to say you do photojournalism.
But one question will separate the chaff from the wheat – and all you need to do is ask, and then listen for the answer.
The correct answer.
When you call up a photographer simply ask, “What’s your definition of photojournalism?”
Depending on the answer you get you’ll know who to consider and who not to.
When they don’t know what it actually means to “photojournalistically” photograph a wedding – you get anything but the real definition as their answer.
And it stands to reason if they can’t correctly tell you what photojournalism is, then they obviously are in the group not delivering it. Make sense?
By the way between you and me here’s what “photojournalism” really means:
It’s telling stories with photos. It’s two words, Photo + Journalism.
Like you’d see in news footage.
(Here’s a more formal definition if you need it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_photojournalist)
But here’s what happens with many wedding photographers:
They merely claim to shoot photojournalistically because they know couples (like you) are looking for that type of coverage. Like I said, it’s a buzzword to them.
And while they make the claim, all they really do is the same non-photojournalistic photography they’re accustomed to shooting. They just changed the name.
So here’s how you catch that right on the phone when you’re calling photographers so you can weed them out fast:
Since they don’t know what it means, their answers usually fall into one of these 4 inaccurate responses. These are the rehearsed answers multiple couples have heard time and again.
Here we go:
[a] “I pose people to make them look unposed.”
Here’s what’s wrong with that: It’s a contradiction.
As we know, photojournalism is about getting real moments as they happen – not faking real moments pretending they happened.
And it’s sure not about being posed.
[b] “I get photos of the gown and shoes…”
But that’s not photojournalism either. Those are “detail shots” – not “story telling” photos.
There’s nothing wrong with detail shots and you should have them – but it’s not a substitute for photojournal work.
[c] “The photojournalist gets the photos the main photographer gets but from a different angle.”
This is a typical response when they’re trying to make it seem offering you two photographers is some sort of an advantage you get with them. But shooting over the other photographer’s shoulder is not photojournalism. It’s not even more coverage.
It’s simply “duplication.” Just from a slightly different angle.
Technically you could even call that “redundancy.” But no one seriously ever calls it “photojournalism.” Seriously!
Fact is you only need one good, experienced, proficient photographer who can take care of doing both “main” AND “photojournal.”
Makes me wonder why they can’t. But I digress.
[d] “The photojournalistic photos are in black and white”
Converting an image into Black & White doesn’t somehow magically turn it into any kind of a story-telling image.
It simply gets rid of the color. Sure, photojournal images could be Black & White…
But they could just as well be in color.
What makes them truly photojournal are the moments they depict.
Not the shades of gray they’re in.
The only real answer you ever want to hear when you ask, “What does photojournal coverage mean?” is any variation of “it means creating photographs which contain story-telling elements, taken without the photographer intervening in, interrupting, directing or otherwise manipulating your real moments.”
Otherwise you might end up with a photographer who interrupts you all day long, makes you do things over again for the camera, stops you to pose your moments, and in this way never gets your true moments… and so with whom ultimately you’ll never get the photojournal coverage you actually wanted: The kind of coverage which depicts your real moments, your genuine feelings, your true stories, and therefore, your real memories.
In other words, authentic story telling images.
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