3 Tips to Make the Most of Your Wedding Photojournalist

September 6, 2019
Philippe Swiggers, of , is a wedding photographer for Puglia

Photo by: Philippe Swiggers, Belgium

While wedding party stereotypes still exist, most people realize there’s more to being a bridesmaid than looking beautiful, more to being a groomsman than adding life and excitement to the reception party. But even the bride and groom might not fully understand just how helpful these roles can be, long after the train is bustled and the speeches are given. With a little direction (and not that much effort), members of the wedding party can facilitate great wedding photojournalism—a favor that will elicit enduring gratitude every time you look at the wedding pictures.

1. INTRODUCE YOUR WEDDING PHOTOJOURNALIST

Don’t assume that everyone in your bridal party understands wedding photojournalism. And it’s not your wedding photojournalist’s job to spend the day educating everyone. You have picked (and paid) your wedding photojournalist for their documentary style and creative eye, so you don’t want them fielding too many special (cheesy and posed) requests from your wedding party—taking away time from the natural moments you hired them to capture.

Andrew Billington, of Staffordshire, is a wedding photographer for Iscoyd Park, Shropshire.

Photo by: Andrew Billington, Staffordshire, United Kingdom

Our WPJA award-winning members have noted that their best experiences and best photographs have resulted from being able to communicate with the bride and groom before the wedding day. By working together, the bride and groom can understand how their photographer works, pass this information along to their family and friends and let them know what to expect from the wedding photojournalist throughout the day. In this way, the bride and groom can pave the way for the photographer to be able to do their job with the best results. 

Introduce your photographer to the bridal party, and if needed, give a short description of how they work. Tell them that they take candid photographs. The goal is that the interactions between the photographer and your guests are positive through and through. And if you answer all of their questions ahead of time, there will be no need for the wedding photojournalist to spend any energy on anything but their work.

Rich Calver, of County Antrim, is a wedding photographer for Lissanoure Castle, Glens of Antrim

Photo by: Rich Calver, County Antrim, United Kingdom

In many cases when people see the wedding photographer, they will give their best “I’m having a fabulous time” pose for the camera. The guests may think they’re doing them a favor, but guests can actually interfere with the journalistic style of a wedding photojournalist. Letting the guests know beforehand to simply go about the day as though they were not there is excellent advice. It’ll help your photographer capture those special, natural moments.

Melinda Guerini Temesi, of Budapest, is a wedding photographer for Budapest

Photo by: Melinda Guerini Temesi, Budapest, Hungary

2. WHAT NOT TO DO

When you’re briefing your wedding party about the philosophy of wedding photojournalism, it’s crucial to include a list of things not to do, so your wedding photojournalist can get the best possible photos.

The list of what not to do can be long and exhausting. Keep it simple and to the point. For instance, when your guests see the camera pointed at them, ask them not to grab all of their friends for a group photograph. While fun and entertaining in the moment, these posed pictures do not make for great photography.

Yun Li, of New York, is a wedding photographer for The Boathouse at Mercer Lake

Photo by: Yun Li, New York, United States

For many people, a camera in a room can either be a source of anxiety or great excitement, as though their opportunity to shine has arrived. Either they hide from it or they “perform” for it. Whichever direction they take usually results in bad photography. When your wedding party is instructed to pay no mind to the wedding photojournalist, it takes the pressure off them. They don’t have to do anything.

Brett Butterstein, of California, is a wedding photographer for Palos Verdes Estates, CA, La Venta Inn

Photo by: Brett Butterstein, California, United States

The wedding party should also understand when it’s appropriate—and even more often, when it’s not—to give your wedding photojournalist direction.

There are those guests who helpfully direct the wedding photojournalist to a photo-worthy private moment that is taking place on the other side of the room. On the other hand, there are those individuals who feel free to give artistic direction to the wedding photographer. They can easily get in the way.

Kristian Leven, of London, is a wedding photographer for Guildford Harbour Hotel

Photo by: Kristian Leven, London, United Kingdom

While the wedding photojournalist is observing their surroundings, they become inspired. They develop a vision for what they want to capture. With camera in hand, they attempt to bring their vision to fruition. They shoot away. And then they get a tap on their shoulder. It’s one of the members of the wedding party informing them that they need to get a posed picture of the bride falling into the groom’s arms. This can be more than a bit distracting.

Alan Rogers, of Victoria, is a wedding photographer for Sandringham Yacht Club - Melbourne Australia

Photo by: Alan Rogers, Victoria, Australia

Help your wedding party understand the difference between direction and friendly forewarning—especially when a memorable and unplanned scene is unfolding across the room and the wedding photojournalist is immersed in another (maybe not as important) photo.

Jonny Barratt, of Gloucestershire, is a wedding photographer for Penmaen House, Wales

Photo by: Jonny Barratt, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

WPJA members have reported that some of the best shots they’ve taken were a result of the guests being aware of the situation and knowing what was going to occur, making the job of the photojournalist that much easier.

3. GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND

An obvious task for wedding party members is making sure everyone is where they should be for group photos. Our award-winning members corroborate, saying that they have sometimes missed out on capturing wonderful moments because they had to spend too much time rounding up people for group shots or searching for important guests.

Damir Plavotic, of Primorje-Gorski Kotar county, is a wedding photographer for Labin, Istria, Croatia

Photo by: Damir Plavotic, Primorje-Gorski Kotar county, Croatia

This is not how you want your wedding photojournalist to spend their (and your) valuable time. In order to avoid this situation, it’s a good idea to give the wedding party a schedule of the group photo session ahead of time. This can be something as small as an index card or it can be an email that details when and where they need to be for the group photos. As a backup plan, appoint someone who is familiar with the members of the family and wedding party. This individual will keep track of where everyone is when it’s time to take pictures. They will herd them together and you can simply smile for the camera.

Ronan Jégaden, of , is a wedding photographer for Paris

Photo by: Ronan Jégaden, France

Ideally, a couple of people in the wedding party will help to keep the group photos under control. But it’s often the case in which the wedding photographer is spending too much of their time trying to get members of the group to stop talking, stand in the right place, smile at the right time. The bride and groom usually try to take over. And by the time the picture is taken, the two of them look as stressed as ever. To avoid this scenario, make sure everyone in the wedding party knows in advance when and where the pictures will be taken. Most importantly, give an approximation of how long it should take.

As the night progresses, ask one or two members of your wedding party to check in on your photographer from time to time, monitoring water, dinner, questions, and administrative needs (like handing over any checks, or requesting additional time), so you’re free to enjoy your wedding. You might even want to encourage your wedding party to invite the photographer into semi-private moments or unique settings throughout the wedding and reception. Often these gestures do something even more important than the obvious: they make your wedding photojournalist feel welcome.