Oct 20, 2008

Photojournalistic Style?

Chances are if you are reading this, you have at least heard of the term "Photojournalistic Style Wedding Photography", but what is it and why is it so popular.

Back in the day wedding photography consisted of a trip to a photo studio where a formal posed photo would be taken after the wedding. Mainly because cameras were far to large and churches were a lot more strict. When cameras got smaller, formal photos went from the studio to the aisle and eventually the reception. Since most of this work was done by studio photographers, it retained much of the look and feel of studio work. Heavily staged & formal. You can read more about the changes in wedding photography here.

So why did brides start to prefer a "Photojounalistic" look, over a glamorously posed photo studio session?

One big reason as mentioned in the article I linked to above was magazine coverage of royal weddings in England & Marolyn Monroe's wedding by magazines like Life & Look. What's more glamorous than having your wedding covered like a newspaper or magazine story.

Another was back in the 60's & 70's photojournalists started to photograph weddings out side of their newspaper work and it was often done using black & white film only and shot mostly as unposed candid images. They'd go back to their darkrooms and develop and print images up at a much lower cost than color film would allow. Why do you think they call it Photojounalistic Style.

Well the natural look of it took off and some in the Photojournalism industry left and started shooting weddings full time. Some wedding photographers never even worked in the industry, but employee similar techniques. Since Photojournalism isn't really a style, it's a field in photography, you'd truthfully be better off and I actually prefer to call it what it really is, which is "Documentary" style photography.

As I mentioned before "Photojournalistic Wedding Photography" has kind of become a buzz word in the wedding industry, but many outside of the photo world often mistake it for several things. Make sure when you are looking for a photographer who says they shoot "Photojournalistically", that not only do they shoot documentary style, but that you actually know what that means yourself.

First a little bit about what "Documentary" style isn't

1. A wedding shot in all black & white, is not documentary style. Black & White film was a cheap alternative to color film and many of the photojournalists I talked about above, started out shooting just in black & white. This is a film choice not a style. Although there is a different astetic to black & white photography. It is not a style in itself.

2. Different angles, close up & purposefully blurred photos, doesn't make it documentary. All photographers strive to get different looks of a subject, myself included. These are part of a photographer personal style.

3. It has to be candid? No not really. It's very hard to not notice somebody standing 2 feet from you with 3 cameras wrapped around their neck, but it's easy to get use to that person being there and in time forgetting about them. Plus, all good documentaries have head shots or group photos. Looking at the camera isn't a sin in this style, but doing the old "buddies with their arms around each others shoulders" photo isn't what it is about.

So what is documentary style?

Basically it is the idea that what you are taking photos of will eventually have a final output, and ending if you will. Your wedding is essentially a story and capturing moments that happen during it are very important. Detailed images of rings, glasses, hands and so on are elements of that story and when laid out in a book or slide show, these images should flow together like a story without words, or voices.

A photographers personal style is their own, you can see this in their portfolio, as chances are it is a collection of the work they have done that they feel represents what they do best. A sample of how they photograph a wedding from start to finish,is a good indicator of the overall style they shoot in. Are they Documentary? Artistic? Commercial?

And while you may not have the eye that a photographer has to tell the difference, just know if you see a lot of straight on photos of people looking right at the camera, chances are that photographer won't be laying upside down on the dance floor to get the guys diving for the garter. And if you see an image like the one at the top of the page, chances are that photographer isn't going to grant somebodies request for a grip and grin photo.

There's a photo I show in my full wedding presentation. It's of a groom on the ground with his butt in the air looking under a bed. I love the weird look I get from brides, but the next photo is his cat, under the bed, because he was looking for it as friends and family gathered at his home prior to the ceremony. I always say that there's a method to my madness. Make sure you ask about that method and figure out whether it's right for you or not.

Oct 16, 2008

About The Wedding Photog Blog

Hello, my name is Vincent David Johnson and I’m a photographer.

While I do weddings, I do not consider myself a “Wedding Photographer”, nor do I consider my work to fall under the terminology of “Wedding Photography”. At least not outside of the fact that it is indeed photography that I am doing at a wedding, the comparison stops there for me.

First and foremost I am a photographer. To be a little more specific you can say I am a Photojournalist, as I went to college and received a degree in Photojournalism and I currently can be found shooting for several Midwestern papers & magazines. But long before that I was just a kid with a camera who had an eye for capturing moments, more so than working abstract meanings into my images. Which is why I will never refer to myself as an artist (partially because I think it’s pretentious), but I’ve come to grips with others who refer to me as one.

At first I wanted nothing to do with photographing weddings, but after I was involved in my own wedding and weddings of a few friends and family, I was genuinely excited to be around new brides and grooms, as the myth of Bridezillas seems to have been over exaggerated. Of course I’ve seen brides go ballistic at a wedding, but this has almost always been due to vendors who have screwed up big time, or intoxicated family members who have made an ass of themselves.

From what I gathered by doing a little blog reading, is that most blogs seem to be about the person who writes them, that persons opinions and in some cases what that person is doing every minute of everyday of their life.

The most popular blogs seemed to be ones that provided either insider/exclusive details about something the blogger is an expert or very knowledgeable about, or its something that the reader finds informative and helpful towards their own life. I’m hoping this turns out to be the latter, as opposed to people reading this hoping to hear about a train wreck wedding situation.

While I won’t guarantee this will be the only time I write about myself, I can say that my main goal is to provide tid-bits for my would-be-brides to read on days leading up to their wedding day.

My friends will tell you that I can talk forever, so I will stop here, but if you’d like to find out more about who I am and what I do visit www.OtherVertical.com, www.VincentDavidJohnson.com & www.LostAmericana.com .

Oct 15, 2008

I learned something today

While not quite as tongue in cheek as Kyle from South Park, at the end of just about every wedding I shoot I usually have at least one thing I’ve learned and written down in my reporter’s notebook.

It can be something as simple as an angle & lighting scheme that worked good, advice to give to couples about bridal party portraits, how to work better with other vendors, or in the worst case, something that can go horribly wrong that could have been avoided.

I can see this blog becoming a must read (or a hardly read if I don’t promote it) for any couple searching for a wedding photographer in Chicago (where I am), or elsewhere in the world. It might also be very informational for upstart wedding photographers. If you are the later, at least show me some love on the comment or link side.

In all likely hood this blog will be written at the start in an order similar to that following where a couple looking for a wedding photographer would start. While reading newer posts most likely won’t place you at a disadvantage, like starting algebra before take math 101, reading from oldest to newest might be an easier read for some.

If any stories, or references I make sound like your wedding... Well it just might be, but you’d also be surprised that they often sound like a few other weddings I’ve shot as well. Exact names, locations and dates will mostly be left out. Obviously since I’m a photographer I will be displaying images in this blog. I promise that I will not be posting anything I wouldn’t post from my own wedding. If anyone does have issues with images that are posted please contact me.