Tag Archives: wedding photojournalism

What is Wedding Photojournalism?

  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.

Mother and daughter before the ceremony

   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. 

Three seconds later

   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.

Green elevator, green dress

  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. 

  Photojournalism.

  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.

Waiting to make their entrance to the reception.

  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. 

Kyle chats with Mayor Pam Iorio.

    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.

Zimmerman, Kyle Zimmerman

  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.

Photojournalistic Portrait

  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.

Roxanne by the Hillsborough River

  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.

The center of attention

    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.

The reception.

 

Toasting their guests

    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.

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.

The Pictures are Everything

  A man called me a few months ago and said he was getting married soon and wanted to meet with me about photographing his wedding.     He said he and his fiance “loved” the photographs on my web site. 

 His deep, gravelly voice said:   “The pictures are everything”.  I figured him for a lifelong smoker. 

  I was wrong.

  His name was Randy and he told me that it was to be a very small, private wedding.  There was not going to be a videographer and none of the guests would be taking photographs.

  “The pictures are everything”, he said again.

  We set up an appointment to meet at his home.  It was just a few miles from my own.

  I knocked on his door at exactly noon.  The door swung open, a massive man of a man walked out, extended his baseball mitt-sized hand and said, “Hi, I’m Randy.”

  “I know who you are,” I said. 

  He didn’t acknowledge my comment, but invited me in and introduced me to his lovely fiance, Lynn.  They offered me a drink.  I accepted.  Randy went to get it.

  “That IS Macho Man Randy Savage, isn’t it,”? I whispered to Lynn.  She said yes.

  Now, for the first time in a very long time of meeting clients and potential clients, I was nervous.

  He wasn’t the first celebrity I’ve ever met, but he was the first international celebrity who wanted me to photograph his wedding.    I had photographed HSN’s Lynn Murphy’s wedding last year, but had known her as a friend for a few years, so it wasn’t  the same.  Plus, HSN is only shown in the USA.

  Macho Man Randy Savage was an internationally-known professional wrestler and celebrity. 

  This day, and every other day we met for planning sessions and talked on the phone, he was just Randy.  He wanted nothing more than to have incredible wedding photographs for his bride.  

  “The pictures are everything”.

Lynn and Randy pose on the beach following the ceremony.

  The wedding was planned for Lido Beach in Sarasota at 7:15pm, about one hour before sunset.

The view from the Lido Beach Resort 7th Floor

  Beach weddings can be dangerous affairs.  You have to be concered about storms moving in, high winds, overeager, pasty-white  beachgoers creeping into your shot and bright sunshine that makes the couple squint or have harsh shadows on them.  The latter is always my biggest concern and I shared that with Lynn and Randy.

  “The pictures are everything.” 

  They meant it too.  They empowered me to direct the location of the setup of the bamboo trellis so it wouldn’t be directly backlit by the setting sun.  They trusted me to help choose the correct time of day to minimize the harsh sunshine. 

  They gave me everything I needed to capture the beauty, romance, emotion and incredible moments of the day.

  Most of all, they gave me themselves.

Lynn and Randy pose in the seagrass after the ceremony

    Their reception was to be a sit-down affair inside the glorious Lido Beach Resort.    The pair had met near there many years ago and wanted to return to that site to seal their union.

    The room was lit only by candles, as Lynn had requested.   

Elegant Reception Room

     Most of the reception photos were shot by that candlelight, allowing the glamor and mood to remain, enhance and maintain the dignity of the event.

Elegant Lynn Photographed by Candlelight

   Macho Man Randy Savage didn’t attend the ceremony.  He wasn’t even invited.

  It was very clear that this wedding was no different than any other union.  Lynn was the focal point. 

Bride on the Beach

    One of the first things they did after seeing their photographs was to place an order for a 24 x 36″ canvas wrap for over their piano.  I was incredibly flattered to have something that large being placed as one of the focal points of their home. 

  Randy reminded me that during our first meeting I had gotten a little cocky and said to them that one of my goals was to replace the large art print that was then hanging over the piano with one of their wedding photographs.    Success.

The Kiss photograph is now one of the focal points of their home. I could not be happier.

  “The pictures are everything”.

  I completely agree.

  (Please be advised that these photographs and all other photographs on this site are registered and protected by US Copyright laws.  I vigorously pursue all infringers)

Shannon Mulaire and Randy Scott’s Wedding Day

  A wedding is a monumental occassion.  I know from talking with my couples that there’s immense stress involved with the planning and an incredible amount of anxiety involved from worrying about whether everything is going to go off as planned on the special day.

  Shannon Mulaire and Randy Scott gave me the most incredible compliment when we had our last conversation before their April 8, 2010 wedding at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida.  They told me “Tim, you’re the ONLY thing we’re not worried about”.

  In other words, they had complete confidence in my professionalism to be where I was supposed to be, when I was supposed to be there and that they knew I would deliver images that had power, emotion, drama, laughter and fun….and love.

Shannon and Randy

  That’s the key to great wedding photography.  Shooting images that have passion.  Not everyone can do that.  Wedding photography is so much more than delivering images that are simple inventories of who was there. 

  Shannon is a great reporter at WTVT, the FOX affiliate in Tampa.  She knows the power of images, visuals.  I know that she would much rather cover a story that has powerful video to accompany and enhance her stories.  Randy has a TV news/sports backround too.  He’s very much aware of how important great visuals are. 

  It was incredibly flattering that this pair would trust me to deliver those kinds of images.

Shannon in her room before the ceremony

Shannon's Maid of Honor's portrait of her

  And, sometimes, it’s not just me that shoots a powerful image.  This shot above was a photograph that Shannon’s Maid of Honor was shooting of her.  I think that what makes this such a nice image is not from MY photograph, rather because the shot from the Maid of Honor is a beautiful frame. 

  You have to keep your eyes open when shooting a wedding and let any ego you have subside.  I was very complimentary of her Maid of Honor for this photograph.  I have a standing  joke with guests.  It’s, “don’t shoot anything that’s better than mine”.    Sometimes, they don’t listen.

  Shannon and Randy’s wedding was stunning in its details, location, but more importantly in it’s sealing of the union between two people who are quite obviously very much in love with one another. 

   There is nothing more romantic or beautiful than the way a bride looks at her life partner while he says his vows.

Shannon looks at Randy while he says his vows to her

 And, a kiss is never just a kiss during a wedding.  I always try to shoot the kiss with a wide lens so you can see the reaction of the guests in the backround.  I loved going through the images with Randy and Shannon when they came by to pick them up.  Looking at this kiss photograph, they were pointing out the guests in the backround, admiring her father taking a photograph, Randy’s mother (in purple between the two) gripping her hands together–beaming with more emotions than I could probably imagine.

The Kiss

  That’s one of the secrets that many so-called photographers don’t know.  A photograph can have multiple layers of interest.    A professional photographer does not want someone simply glancing at their photography.  A professional photographer wants whoever is viewing their work to STAY in the photograph.  Adding multiple layers of interest is one way to do that.

Romance on the Gulf of Mexico

    Even this silhouette photograph has multiple layers of interest.  The color and drama of the sunset adds to the beauty of the moment between the two.

  Of course, sometimes a single layer of interest is all that’s needed.

Glamorous Bride along the Gulf of Mexico

  Even this photograph has subtle, multiple layers of interest.  Shannon said that one of the reasons she chose this gown was because of it’s light and airy structure.  She knew that it would blow easily in the wind along the Gulf of Mexico.  The movement of the gown adds to the beauty of this shot.

  The Ritz-Carlton in Naples was an exquisite place to shoot.  They know how to take care of their guests and I think a lot about visuals as well.    The reception area was lit with purple and blue lighting.  The tables glowed with light.    When I saw that, I KNEW that not only would there be great visuals of the couple’s first dance and the other moments of fun during a reception.  I also knew that the color of the room would add visual impact, drama, beauty and another layer of interest.  Of course, you cannot just go in and shoot it.  You have to have a true  knowledge of light and how to manipulate it, use, enhance it.

  That’s one of the differences between a professional photographer and the guy or gal who says:  “I’m a professional photographer, I have a Nikon camera”, then proceeds to photograph an entire wedding with direct, on camera flash in automatic mode.  Doing that would have not allowed the colors of the room to marinate into the frame.   You have to use slow shutters and subtle, subtle lighting. 

Color, Details, Multiple layers of interst (The web doesn't do justice to the color in this frame)

  A wedding is a celebration of love, but also of friendships and family and new unions.   

 After it’s all over, though, it’s the photographs that keep those moments fresh and vivid in your lives.   

Celebrating their Union

  Thank you both so much!!!

Florida Wedding Photography Made Simple

It was a busy few days. 

In the previous post, you saw a preview or Ryan and Julia Roeling’s wedding photographs from Saturday night. 

 On Friday, I had the pleasure of photographing the preparations, ceremony and reception for Lindsey Smith and Adam Johnson.  And, it was a pleasure even though it was the largest, most detail-oriented and specific wedding shoot I’ve had in a very long time.  Adam and Lindsey even insisted I bring a second photographer to the shoot, which is something I’ve always resisted.

  Why?

  The standards I set for photographs that are delivered to the couple are incredibly high.  I didn’t think I could find anyone who had the same  photojournalistic backround and experience and was willing to shoot a wedding.  For various reasons, many true photojournalists won’t photograph weddings. 

   I reached out to a former St Petersburg Times photographer I met and bonded with while shooting portraits of John Travolta and Kellie Preston.  He said yes.  We’re still editing the photographs, but I am impressed  by his credentials, personality, interaction with the couple and their guests and most importantly:  The Power of His Pictures.

    That’s the  focus of this blog. 

 How to make Wedding Photography simple:  Deliver great images.

  I believe in the Power of the Picture. 

  It must have impact, technical perfection, mulitple layers of interest, lighting that’s appropriate for the scene and evoke an emotion.

  Simple, eh?

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Lindsey's Pre-wedding Preparations

  It can be simple as you can see from Lindsey’s preparation photograph above.  It’s an incredibly simple composition and shot, yet it’s an incredibly complex, complicated moment as she sits in the chair having her makeup done, amid organized chaos inside the hotel’s Bridal dressing room.  Only she knows what, exactly, is on her mind at this moment.

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Bridesmaid's Luscious Lashes

  Again, a simple composition, a true un-posed, unguarded moment amid the organized chaos of a Bride’s dressing area before the ceremony.  It’s also a striking image with power, beauty and drama.

  I always encourage brides to allow me to document these pre-ceremony times.   Often, these are very emotional times, with great opportunities to photograph unguarded moments that help to tell the whole story of the day.

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Wedding Rings on Wedding Dress in Extreme Black and White

 

  Simple, yet dramatic portrait of the wedding rings amid the details on the back of Lindsey’s wedding dress.  Yes, I flexed my artistic interpretation on this shot.  Yes, in case Lindsey  doesn’t like the extreme nature of the photoshop finish on it, I’m including a clean, very white version of it as well.

 

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Veiled Bride in Thought

  This is also from Lindsey’s dressing room as she had her veil placed on her and adjusted.  Simple photograph, simply-lit, but with a power about it because of the undeniable beauty of the bride, the woman in the backround (also veiled) helping adjust it, but primarily because of the gaze in her eyes.

  What must she be thinking, feeling?  I have no idea.  That’s Lindsey’s private, simple secret. 

    The simplicity of wedding photography goes beyond simple set-ups and compositions.  Those, sometimes are very complex and detailed, but never, ever time-consuming.  One of my roles as your wedding photographer is to make sure that the time spent posing for/with me is minimal.  Time spent with your loved ones and friends is always more important.

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Simple set-up, Simple Lighting, yet elegant portrait of an elegant bride

  That’s Lindsey before she left the hotel to get to the Church on time.    Due to the late arrival of Lindsey’s hair stylists, which pushed everything back,  the time we had to do pre-bridal glamorous portraits was cut down to three literal minutes.    We shot several simple set-ups in that time with the results being…..beautiful.

    I wish I would have had more time to do elegant bridal portraits around the breathtaking lobbies and lands of the hotel they were dressing in.  I didn’t, but I have enough experience with wedding photography to know that flexibility is one of the keys to staying sane and staying calm when no one else around you is.

  This is one of Adam’s portraits shot post-ceremony.  For this set up, I always put the bride in the front with the groom in the back (which I did before shooting Adam in the foreground).    This was the first time I ever brought the groom to the foreground and I truly like the finished product.  I am still learning, experimenting and growing.

AdamPortraitExtremeWeb

Firefighter Adam Johnson on his Wedding Day

    Adam is a firefighter, a manly-man who rushes into burning buildings and puts his life on the line to save yours.  I wanted to do a portrait of him that is extreme in it’s finish and, as always, powerful in its presentation.  (I am including a softer, cleaner version of it in the final delivery of images in case Adam doesn’t appreciate this interpretation.)

  This photograph has depth, mulitiple layers of interest, dramatic lighting and a fantastic main subject. 

  This photograph is Adam’s chance to be in the spotlight.  It is with a specific intent that you cannot make out Lindsey’s face, only the dimly-lit white of her wedding dress.  It is with specific intent that you can see the iconic presence of Jesus watching over the two at the In Carnation Catholic Church in Tampa.    It is with specific intent that Adam’s face is somewhat in shadow, bringing out the power, drama and masculinity of this Groom.

  Total set up and shoot time for this shot.  Probably one minute.  Perhaps two.    Complex Simplicity.

  (Experience pays off when hiring a wedding photographer in ways that you probably may never realize until the wedding day)

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Lindsey's Light

  I call this photograph “Lindsey’s Light” for two reasons.  One, the incredible, natural light that’s adding a little drama and beauty to this simple, photojournalstic moment at the reception.  Two, because of the joy in her smile and her gaze as she talks with the real Light of her Life, Adam,  during their first moments at the Rusty Pelican reception.

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Tipping the Bride during a First Dance

  Lindsey and Adam had obviously practiced their first dance a few times.  It was slick and smooth with twists and turns.  It was this portion, however, of their first dance that I was shooting  for.  It’s one of the moments when their eyes lock on one another like no one else even exists or is present.  It’s the electric connection between them that makes this photograph powerful. 

    It’s an important image that truly captures a special moment between them.  I tell my couples that you CAN  capture emotions like love and romance in a photograph.  This one does just that.

    It’s also simply-done when you have a photographer who truly knows photojournalism and values, above everything, The Power of the Picture.

  Throw in a great-looking, loving couple, adoring parents, siblings, friends, fellow firefighters and a few bubbles and you have the makings of  heirloom-quality, wedding day memories and images.

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Bubble-infused departure.

  Thank you Lindsey and Adam for trusting me to do this for you.

  Thank you for reading!

(Ask about discounts for active duty military men and women, firefighters, police officers and others who place their lives on the line for people they don’t even know.  I am available to travel Nation and worldwide for assignments)

Julia and Ryan’s Tampa Bay Wedding

    I can only photograph what’s there. 

    I stress that to the people I shoot for all the time.  Delivering photographs that have power, impact, drama, beauty and emotion is not just the responsibility of the photographer.  The subjects have  more to do with that than I do.    Not even the best photographer can photoshop romance or love into a photograph when it doesn’t exist between your camera’s focus point. 

  The subjects must provide those parts of the collaboration for this kind of result.

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  Mrs. Julia Roeling and U.S. Navy Lt. Ryan Roeling.

 

Mrs. Julia Roeling and U.S. Navy Lt. Ryan Roeling.

Mrs. Julia Roeling and U.S. Navy Lt. Ryan Roeling.

      Julia and Ryan are the perfect couple to shoot with.  They’re both confident and classy to begin with. 

      Basically, all I have to do is show up, set exposure and focus and press the shutter.

 

Mrs. Julia Roeling (Waters).

Mrs. Julia Roeling (Waters).

  Any hack with a camera could photograph her and have great results.    (It does, however, take a professional photographer with working knowledge of using, manipulating and controlling light, creativity, composition, camera control, working photojournalism, as well as the knowledge of how to inject and document emotion, and create drama to photograph her like THAT.   (Smile)

   Julia and Ryan gave me unlimited freedom to decide how to do their portraits.  So, how do you make those decisions? 

  As always, Julia was beautiful, elegant and regal on her wedding day.  She should be photographed in ways that capture and display those qualities.

  Ryan is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and an active duty Officer in the U.S. Navy. 

  He should be photographed to reflect a sense of power and presence, as well as to capture  his dignity, pride and masculinity. 

U.S. Navy Lt. Ryan Roeling on his Wedding Day.

U.S. Navy Lt. Ryan Roeling on his Wedding Day.

 

  I always strive to deliver images with power, drama and emotion, but this wedding held kind of a special responsibility to me.  I got my initial training and experience as a photojournalist in the Navy.  It’s one of the reasons Ryan and Julia told me that they hired me for the day.  

    Ryan is quite familiar with the level of professionalism and the incredible amount of training that goes into preparing someone for service in the military.    He knows that whether you’re a U.S. Navy photojournalist, a pilot, a surface warfare officer, a bubble-head (submarine corps), a cook, a yeoman, a security guard or someone’s wing man, that when you’re called upon to do your job, it happens.   Instinctively.

    And, one never forgets it.  I’ve been off active duty for more than 15 years, yet my shutter finger and my mind still function as a single unit. 

    There was one other reason I wanted to do an incredible  job for Ryan and Julia (and their warm, fun families and friends) is because I respect Lt. Ryan and those like him for the sacrifices they give to us all with their Military service.  And, of course, to Mrs. Julia for her new role as a Navy wife.  It’s also a very difficult, demanding responsibility.

  Stepping down from my soapbox, I will close with this:  I can only photograph what’s there.

  You’ve seen the romantic, formal photographs (albeit only a tiny, tiny fraction of them).  Believe me, those shots were only the beginning of what Ryan, Julia and, myself and my assistant Broderick Winn did together before the ceremony.    Ryan and Julia chose to see each other before the ceremony and to spend an hour together shooting pre-ceremony portraits.  It’s becoming quite the popular trend)

    But, of course Julia and Ryan like to do other things than simply appear regal.

  They appreciate humor and laughter.

One too many paparrazi in the limo following the ceremony.

One too many paparrazi in the limo following the ceremony.

  They understand and embrace love, romance and passion as in this shot from their first dance:

Romantic First Dance.

Romantic First Dance.

 And, Julia especially, knows the value of tossing a Coach purse as opposed to a bouquet of flowers to make sure that “All the Single Ladies” (ALL the Single Ladies), pursue the toss with vigor, passion and enthusiasm. 

 

Modified Bouquet Toss with a Coach Purse.

Modified Bouquet Toss with a Coach Purse.

    I can only photograph what’s there.   In this case it was romance and passion, laughter and love and  formal military protocol,  but also sexy shots, scenes from Top Gun, hijinks and highlights.

  PS:  If you’ve never seen their engagement session, see my main web site cover photo:  www.timboylesphotography.com

If you wish to be notified when their  photos are publically posted, leave me a comment or email.

Thank you for reading!