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Tips to Photographing a Photojournalistic Wedding

written by: Ryan C.•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/19/2010

In this article, we offer tips to capturing a wedding as it unfolds as a photojournalist. Learn to candidly and realistically capture the big day!

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    Introduction

    The goal of a wedding photographer is to capture the day as you see it unfold. The wedding party or couple hire you as a skilled photographer to put your technical expertise to use photographing their big day. It used to be that most weddings were shot from a traditional perspective of very staged and posed photos. These can look boring and devoid of real emotion. They are more focused on getting the shots on the pose checklist rather than capturing the spirit of the event. A journalistic approach aims to capture those special candid moments on the most important day of the couple's lives.

    Journalistic wedding photography is usually combined with traditional photography to get the best of both worlds and to ensure that formal portraits, group photos, and key photos are taken. This allows your client to select the images they like best.

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    What is Photojournalism?

    photojournalistic wedding photography A photojournalistic photographer primarily shoots in the background and out of the way to get the shot. They work around the wedding and must quickly adapt to quickly changing situations, lighting, and people. They are strictly there to document the wedding so that the bride and groom can relive the moment forever in your photos.

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    Tips and Things to Consider

    Your Gear - You must know your wedding gear inside and out as a wedding photographer, as every moment is critical and the event is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Wedding photographers are expensive because the moment is priceless. Be prepared for the worst (not that it's going to happen!) by bringing a backup camera body and flashes. But don't get caught up on all the "necessary gear." Use what you have and everything will eventually fall into place!

    The Lighting - The perfect lighting can really make an image spectacular. Conversely, bad lighting can make your photos look terrible. When shooting a wedding photojournalistically, you are constantly moving around following the bride and groom in changing conditions and so being aware of changing light is critical for nailing the shots. Whether you are outdoors in bright sunlight or in a dim church, expert photographers use a mix of available light and artificial light and learn to balance lighting conditions on the fly.

    Assistants - Assistants can be invaluable when photographing in a run and gun situation. They can be used to hold lights, position light stands, carry your gear, and switch out lenses. As your right-hand, they need to be dependable and have photographic expertise to be there when you need them.

    A Second Shooter - Since you cannot be everywhere at once, a second shooter who is shooting in the same style is necessary to capture as much as possible. A second shooter will cover different angles and positions, some of which may even be preferred by your client, in which case, it's a win-win situation. A second shooter should not get in your way and should independently photograph the wedding from their point of view.

    Preparation - Obviously, you should be prepared with regard to your equipment and assistants. But being prepared also means knowing the venue you will be shooting in. If possible, attend the rehearsal and get to really know your clients. Doing this extra bit of homework will make your photographs more meaningful.

    Practice - Practice makes perfect! The more weddings you shoot, the better your timing will be during the quick pace of events and you will learn when and what to shoot, and what types of images sell. With more practice, you can also expand your customer base and get your name out to the community of how great a wedding photographer you are.