Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wedding photojournalism: It's what we do {New Braunfels wedding photographer}

Lisa On Location specializes in photojournalistic-style wedding photography for New Braunfels, San Antonio, Austin and the surrounding area.

That's all fine and dandy, but what's it actually mean? "Photojournalism" is a term tossed around quite a lot these days, but from comments I've seen online and elsewhere, it's clear that many people don't understand the term. It might be best to backtrack a little and start over with a phrase that more accurately reflects what Lisa does (and I do, too, on those occasions when I assist her). "Photojournalistic-style wedding photography" is an approach to photographing a wedding and related events with minimal reliance on formal posing and instead captures events and emotions as they happen, so as to tell a story of the entire day. Simply put, instead of the photographer directing the action and arranging and posing people throughout the day, the photographer strives to be unobtrusive, documenting scenes as they unfold with little direct influence.

New Braunfels photojournalist wedding photographer

Unfortunately, photojournalistic-style wedding photography doesn't have a very good reputation in some circles. The late, legendary wedding photographer Monty Zucker once famously dismissed a bride's request for photojournalism by abruptly snapping her picture with a Polaroid. He handed her the unflattering shot with the explanation (and I'm paraphrasing here), "That's what you get with photojournalism." With all due respect to the late Mr. Zucker, horsefeathers. Zucker was of the school of formal photography, in which he'd spend 10 minutes setting up the perfect lighting and getting the pose just so before shooting a single frame. That one image would be perfect for what it was, but it certainly lacked any spontaneity. Zucker created many thousands of gorgeously posed images in his lifetime, but he missed far more beautiful moments as they happened, because he did not understand, nor was he capable of photojournalistic-style wedding photography.

New Braunfels photojournalist wedding photographer

Wedding photojournalism is not simply taking a bunch of candid snapshots. A photojournalist has to anticipate the action, because if you wait to see something interesting before you trigger the shutter, the moment's already gone. A photojournalist has to understand light--both natural, artificial and supplemental--in order to capture accurate, flattering images. A photojournalist has to know his or her equipment and understand its limitations to ensure the bride and groom are presented with the best possible photographs from their wedding day.

Weddings are unique. Family and friends who haven't seen each other in years--if not decades--gather for a joyous celebration, and afterward may never see each other again. Yes, the "big moments" such as cutting the cake and the proud father walking his daughter down the aisle are important. No wedding album is complete without them, for obvious reasons. But for us, the "little moments" are important as well, those fleeting scenes and chance encounters between young cousins and great grandparents, the best man calming the groom's jittery nerves, the bridesmaids laughing as the bride touches up her mascara. These are the memories that fly past the bride and groom in a whirlwind of excitement, that they may never notice, may never recall unless we preserve snatches of scenes for them to enjoy afterward. Weddings are a celebration of two people joined in love, but that joy and wonder affect so many more!

New Braunfels photojournalist wedding photographer

Ignorance in one subject does not automatically make a photographer an expert in another. A would-be wedding photographer isn't a "photojournalist" because they don't understand how to pose people. Declaring themselves a "natural light" photographer doesn't absolve them of not knowing how to use supplemental strobe lighting. Saying "It's the photographer, not the gear" that is responsible for quality photos does not change the fact that using a f/5.6 kit lens in a dimly-lit church will result in dark, blurry photos.

True photojournalism is not easy, despite popular misconceptions. It is actually one of the most difficult photography disciplines, because the shots are taken in uncontrolled circumstances in conditions that are far from ideal. Yet they still have to get the shot--a good shot--and have it in before deadline. Remember, Lisa and I both have backgrounds in print journalism, and have spent long hours developing film in the darkroom. Photographing a wedding isn't challenging in the same way shooting a college football game in mid-afternoon, a 5-alarm fire at midnight or a traffic accident in pouring rain are, but when things go wrong with a wedding (and trust us--something always goes wrong during a wedding) it's nice to know your photographer isn't going to grow flustered and lose perspective.

New Braunfels photojournalist wedding photographer

For the record, Lisa can and does shoot formal, posed wedding portraits with Rembrandt lighting just like Monty Zucker likes. But she really enjoys adventurous couples, who'll cooperate with her on outside-of-the-box poses and concepts that make for some truly striking imagery. That's why she's not a member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association, as they tend to disapprove of anything outside of a strict photojournalistic style.

Formal, photojournalistic or a combination of both, rest assured that Lisa On Location knows the difference, but more importantly, can deliver the high-quality wedding photography you deserve!

Lisa On Location Photography

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