MYTH 1: WEDDING PHOTOJOURNALISTS CAN'T CREATE GOOD PORTRAITS
Perhaps in an effort to protect their business, traditional wedding photographers often try to scare couples into thinking that they will not be able to have wedding portraits taken if they decide to use a wedding photojournalist.
In fact, most wedding photojournalists take portraits or posed shots if that’s what their client wants.
As some of our WPJA members have pointed out, there is more than one way to shoot a portrait. While wedding photojournalists may specialize in capturing moments, they are creative and qualified enough to shoot quality portraits as well. A portrait by a wedding photojournalist may match their more natural and artistic style, but it is a portrait nevertheless, and style is truly the only difference.
Continuing, members note that their clients appreciate the unconventional way they approach portraits, seeking something more unique that employ out-of-the-box thinking. Clients enjoy having formal photos with a little more flair and creativity, thanks perhaps to the wedding photojournalist finding ways to add more depth to the photo or searching for compositionally interesting elements to serve as a backdrop, ultimately offering their client something a little more interesting than gathering everyone together for a static pose. For instance, some of our WPJA contest winners have said that they try to work in the surroundings as much as possible. If the client chose to have an outdoor wedding, the wedding photojournalist is going to do their best to incorporate the setting into the portraits in the most original way possible.
Some of our members have proposed that this myth about portraits comes from the typical and most simple descriptions people assign to wedding photojournalism versus traditional wedding photography; one is “un-posed” while the other is “posed.” As you’ve probably guessed, this is an oversimplification of roles which is often taken too literally. In truth, portraits are a skill of talented wedding photojournalists. At the end of the day, the wedding photojournalist’s goal is to tell a story, and portraits are a part of that story.
Although posed shots do seem to contradict the very notion of photojournalism—and are definitely not why you hire a wedding photojournalist in the first place—almost all are willing to take posed photos during a planned formals session, and will accommodate specific requests when asked.
Some of our members have spoken to their style of finding and capturing the best portraits, typically keeping in line with an un-posed feel even in posed shots. For instance, some of the best portraits may come just after a planned photo is taken, when the subjects have let down their guard for a moment. Or perhaps something like a spontaneous group hug might feel more natural and emotionally truthful than a portrait of a group of people all standing together in a straight line. In fact, one technique to achieve a more social, comfortable, and natural style that the wedding photojournalist might employ would be to loosen up the stiff atmosphere by asking the group to hug, helping everyone to relax and reveal the true joy they feel in the moment instead of focusing on posing.