First, let’s talk about what wedding photojournalism is not.
Wedding photojournalism is not photographs of people standing around looking into the camera. Wedding photojournalism is not a simple shot of the bride and groom as they kiss at the end of the ceremony. Wedding photojournalism is not a bland photograph that the viewer simply glances at and goes to the next shot.
Wedding photojournalism is capturing the emotions of the day as they happen. Wedding photojournalism is shooting photographs that evoke an emotion. Wedding photojournalism is capturing the joys, the laughters, the tears and the looks of love that a couple exchanges with each other and also with their guests and families.
It seems as if every photographer’s web site I look at has line that says they’re a wedding photojournalist, but all of their galleries show photographs of people posing for them. Look closely for claims of wedding photojournalism. If you don’t feel some emotion while looking at their photographs, chances are it’s not real photojournalism.
I had the pleasure of photographing Kyle and Roxanne’s wedding at the new Tampa Museum of Arts last week. It’s wonderful to have a beautiful, interesting venue to shoot a wedding in, but to me it doesn’t matter where the couple gets married. I’m so much more interested in the way they look at each other, the way they interact with their guests and whether or not they’re able to forget I’m there and let their true emotions come through.
I got a little emotional when I first saw this photograph of Roxanne and her mother comforting one another before the ceremony. I actually got a lot emotional when I saw it. My first thought was: THIS is a photograph. My second thought was: THIS is why I do what I do.
But, how quickly things can change.
According to the time code on my image data, this shot is exactly three seconds after the top shot. The two shots are literal definitions of the term “gamut of emotions”.
Roxanne and Kyle’s wedding day did run the gamut of emotions.
This shot is Kyle’s sister as she stepped into the green elevator with Roxanne to go to the ceremony. That’s the actual color of the elevator. Kyle’s sister said she could blend into it with her green dress. She tried to. Roxanne reacted to the much-needed comedic moment.
There were rules about shooting in the Tampa Museum of Arts. You could not photograph the exhibits. They are protected by copyrights. There were, however, ways to use the Museum’s beautiful interior and exterior design to enhance the photography.
This is Kyle and Roxanne as they waited on the second floor for their cue to make their entrance into the reception. To me, there’s something about the annonymity of the shot, combined with the graphic elements of the Museum that make me love this photograph.
Kyle is a very personable and charming man and I think this photograph of him chatting with Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and her husband shows captures those qualities.
Of course, you must shoot some posed photographs, even as a photojournalist, but I believe in adding some photojournalism even to the posed portraits. They don’t have to look posed.
Again, classy, confident Kyle posing, in an un-posed way.
This was actually a portrait I did of Kyle while dialing in my exposure and lighting and waiting to shoot Roxanne. I told him I thought he looked very James Bond-ish. The minarets of the University of Tampa loom in the backround.
Again, a posed moment with a photojournalistic angle.
I’ve found out that very often, the almost-kiss is much more romantic and dramatic than the actual kiss itself.
Of course you have to photograph beautiful portraits of the bride. I really love this shot of Roxanne standing alongside the Hillsborough River looking confident, beautiful and completely at ease.
I love shooting everything during the wedding day, but particularly love the emotions of the reception. By that time, the stresses of the day’s preparations have melted away and it’s time to relax and have fun, surrounded by the most important people in a couple’s life.
The bride is always the center of attention as these two anonymous young men unknowingly helped to illustrate during the reception.
I always say that I can only photograph what’s there. This reception celebration had ample opportunies to capture the stress-less moments following the planning and execution of a wedding day.
Light is the seasoning of a photograph. If you know how to do it, a photographer can greatly enhance the quality of the photographs by using it well. In the shots above, the disco lights used by the DJ add to the ambiance of the shots, as do the backround lights of the city of Tampa in the overhead shot.
I also knew that the Tampa Museum of Arts had colorful lights on the exterior of their building but they were not lit while we were doing the exterior portraits of Roxanne and Kyle. I had truly wished to incorporate them into the portraits.
It wasn’t until later that I noticed Kyle and some of his buddies outside the Museum, taking some time for man-talk and play.
The exterior lights had come on by this time. I used them.
Good photojournalism is telling the story of a wedding day through the photographs. You have the emotions of a mother and daughter together in the last, few moments before the ceremony. You have the laughter of a bride and her bridesmaid as she tried to blend into a green elevator. You have the drama and beauty of the romantic portraits.
You have to leave and call it a day sometime.
I think this shot of Kyle is a good close to the story. He’s married the woman of his dreams.
He’s the king of the world in a $1.99 LED headband.
Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your incredible day.