Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer

Posts tagged “wedding

Congratulations Laura & Chris; June 18th, 2011

Poetic Wedding

Wedding Chicago, First United Methodist Church, Laura & Chris

If there was one thing I couldn’t stop thinking throughout the wedding day of Laura & Chris, was that I needed to know more poets.The couple met via a love for poetry and their wedding day showed a similar theme of love for the spoken word.

Their wedding day played out much like a well rehearsed poem, from the magnificent stained glass and wood of the First United Methodist Church in the heart of downtown Chicago, to the private room at Jak’s Tap in the near west side. Even forecasted thunderstorms avoided them the entire day.

First United Methodist ChurchA view from the balcony at the First United Methodist Church.

wedding rings dress church ChicagoA view of the Church from Daley Plaza (l to r), Laura’s wedding dress, the wedding bands.

laura & Chris wedding first dance chicago, illinois

poetic wedding first dance chicago, illinoisLaura & Chris shared their first dance to live guitar played by a friend.

Click Here to view more photos on my Facebook page.

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My Photos Profiled in Wedding Day Magazine

Vincent David Johnson in wedding day magazine

If you happen to live in the Northern Indiana area. Pickup a copy of Wedding Day Magazine and flip to page 88 and read the story of Deborah & Whitney’s wedding, complimented with the Photography of Vincent David Johnson.

Can’t find a copy of the magazine, but want to see the photos. Check out my Facebook gallery.
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Online Vendor Reviews

If your vendors had your more upset than bad weather on your wedding day, let others know.

Have you ever been out to a restaurant, only to leave so upset about the food quality, or service that you rushed right to your computer to give a them a bad review on sites like Yelp.com, Metromix.com or Citysearch.com?

While it may be little consolation after having a bad wedding experience, some of these sites actually go beyond eating & drinking establishments and your bad or rave reviews for a vendor may just help sway another unsuspecting couple towards a great vendor as much as it could save them from a bad one. Not to mention give you a little more satisfaction than ranting on Facebook or Twitter.

As a home owner I’m a big user of Angie’s List (a subscriber based rating service). While the site got some hype last year when they started doing medical reviews, I never knew until an issue of their monthly magazine did an article on wedding disasters, that vendors from caterers to photographers are also listed.

So don’t forget after the wedding, post up your own thoughts on everything from your wedding vendors to your reception hall rental. You never know, some vendors check these site frequently and may even be grateful enough to give you a discount on future services (say maybe a photographer throwing in some 8×10’s for free).

Also, if you’re still in the planning stages, don’t overlook using these sites for yourself, or to check on vendors you may already have booked to head off any possible issues that may arise.

On a final note; be wary of what you do put in writing. Especially if you had a particularly bad experience. Stick to the facts and try to keep any emotion out of it. The internet isn’t as wild as it use to be, and liable cases are popping up all over the country. While a vendor might not win a case against you, they could ruin your honeymoon too, if you need to spend money on a lawyer to defend yourself in a liable case. And God forbid if you have to take the vendor to court for breach of contract. If that’s the case, it might be best not to say anything till the trial is over.

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Image Friendly Wedding Tips #4; Classic Car

In this case the groom owned the Mini.

When most of us think of the bride & groom driving away from a wedding, it’s either in a limo, or in their own car (cans on strings from the bumper are optional).

I don’t have anything against limos, or your car, but let’s face it, limos make up for style with size and personal cars in most cases are something most have been hanging onto through college, not really great for photos.

So why not add a little charm and go with a vintage ride?

If you would prefer for the least amount of leg work, go professional. There are companies who rent out vintage cars with drivers, for everything from filming movies to driving around brides & grooms and they usually have several car options to choose from. If you’re in a rural or small urban area, as opposed to a New York or Chicago, you may need to go with this next idea.

If a car rental agency isn’t an option, or you’re on a budget, be sure to check out local car clubs. You might not have a choice of a 1937 Rolls Royce in 3 different colors, but finding classic cars from the 1950’s & 60’s shouldn’t be a problem.

Because this isn’t a full time business, some car owners may not have an exact idea of what to charge, or what will be required of them & their car.

Not that I want you low balling people, but a good dollar amount to start at is between around$100 for an hour or two. Owners who maybe have done this once or twice before may already have a price in mind.

Make sure you specify when & where you’d like the car to be used and who will be in it. Since the purpose of this post is about making better pictures, I’d suggest making sure the owner knows you’d like to be using it as a prop after the ceremony. Make sure you mention everything you have planned. Nothing will sour your mood more than finding out you can’t sit on the top of the rear seat of a convertible as you’re leaving the ceremony.

A few last tips:

  • Ask for the car to be at least washed and maybe waxed the day of or before the wedding
  • Ask the driver to dress accordingly and in a solid color (preferably black)

Want to see how cool a vintage car can make your wedding photos? Just Google for photos from the recent Royal Wedding where Prince William & Kate Middleton left in an Aston Martin convertible.


Save $$$ on Your Wedding, the Easy Way: Part 1

As someone who was married with in the last decade, I can tell you without a doubt the best way my wife & I could have saved a few hundred dollars, would have been by not spending $15 each on a handful of magazines and putting those $30 or $50 fancy wedding planner style trapper keepers/scrap books back on the shelf at Borders.

A lot if not most of the info in there can easily be found on internet wedding sites, by bloggers and know-it-alls like me. Also, we forget sometimes the best resources are right in front of us. Chances are you know at least a couple of people who have been married in the last few years. Especially if you are younger. If you don’t know any, chance are some one you know does.

While the popping up of sites like Yelp.com, Angieslist.com & the old tried and true Better Business Bureau BBB.org, are all great tools, nothing beats hearing it from people you know and can trust as opposed to possible fake reviews, or overly picky brides.

Be sure to ask “Would you use them again?” instead of  just “Did you like them?”, as some couples might have a different budget, different taste and hidden factors like their parents might have been paying some of the bills.

Also, if you are at a wedding take mental notes on how the vendors & their services were. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a couple wedding video or album, most will gladly show them off, but don’t assume if they don’t have it yet it’s the vendors fault. I routinely have couples who take between 4-10 months to get back to me on their albums.

In defense of magazines & planning books, they are way better organized than the vast wedding based internet. Lets face it, there’s a reason we say “It reads like a book”. If you really want your books & magazines, look for freebees. Vendors, Bridal Shows and other places have been know to give them away for free to potential clients (aka the Bride & Groom).

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Wedding Dresses at Costco?

Would you look for, or even buy a wedding dress from Costco?

I have to say it sounds strange, but I shop at Costco all the time and buy name brand items (albeit in bulk) with a nice little discount. My only question is, will brides be ready to give up the pampering they get while “saying yes to the dress”, or paying 60% of the retail price make the cold concrete floors & steel cargo shelves of Costco feel as warm as a boutique.

It will be interesting to see how Costco handles the final point of sale. Will they have a dedicated sales person like they do for cell phones & cigarettes? or will it be like the pile of clothes they currently sell in the middle of the store?

Either way, brides-to-be will find out soon as a partnership with wedding dress designer Kirstie Kelly, will have her Signature collection of wedding dresses on sale at Costco.

A Kirstie Kelly wedding dresses can run as high as $4,000, but it looks like Costco will be selling  six different dresses priced between $699- $1,399 (not sure if that $4,000 dress is part of the deal).

Read more here. http://www.wedding-news.co.uk/cash-and-carry-wedding-dresses-at-costco-162000/

www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


Go Beyond the Top 3 Search Results

Searching for wedding vendors

Searching for wedding vendors

Finding a wedding vendor that stands out from the background noise isn’t as easy as locating the bride in this photo.

One of my main reason for doing this blog is to help couples plan out the best possible wedding day that they can. For most of us, this is our first (and hopefully only) time we’ll be getting married and even if we’ve recently had a friend or family member who tied the knot, coming across information, or tips from seasoned professionals isn’t always easy to do.

While the internet has put information at a bride’s finger tips, it’s also littered with disinformation as well and companies looking to game the system as much as they possibly can. Especially when it comes to the billion dollar wedding industry.

The tip I have today is basically look past the first page or two of results when looking for a wedding vendor. This stands true for search engine results from the likes of Google, Yahoo, or Bing. As well as vendor lists on sites like The Knot.com, Weddingwire.com & Brides.com. Common sense tells us that in most cases the companies listed at the top are the best, but unless you’ve done some internet marking yourself, you may not realize that all of these vendors are paying and paying big time to get in front of your wedding day eyes. Sites like The Knot can charge close to $4,000 a year just to be listed. Some of the bets photographers I know & don’t know in the wedding business aren’t even listed there.

If you devote a little more time to your search, you’re more likely to find vendors that aren’t paying to be number 1, and are using less of their money on advertising and more on the quality of their product, or staff used for the service part. These vendors aren’t usually high volume and will sometimes be willing to work out a sweeter deal to fill empty calendar dates.

As always, do your due diligence. Read reviews, or testimonials & ask for references from past couples.

VincentDaivdJohnson.com


Wedding nightmares

I’ve heard all sorts of wedding nightmare stories, although I will admit most of them are actually more like a wedding hiccup than a full blown nightmare. Which is why I think I’ve actually been paying attention to stories I’ve heard or read about brides who had their dresses on hold at Eva’s Bridal shop in Oak Lawn, Il.

If you haven’t heard the story already, Eva’s is a well known dress shop that regularly gets good reviews from it’s brides, but on Nov. 17th, a fire started at the shop and the building went up in flames and the roof came down. I was tempted to write about this before, but I was busy relaunching the blog, so now a few weeks after when I heard the story about Melissa Conley, while listening to the news on the radio, I had to share this story.

It seems that not only was Melissa, one of the brides who’s dress went up in smoke, but another bridal shop lost her bride’s maids dresses and then to top it off the venue she had booked for rehearshal dinner, Harry Caray’s in Wrigleyville, closed down out of the blue.

While one might think how does a bar themed around the former voice of the Chicago Cubs go out of business just block from Wrigley Field? I’d say the real thing to  think of is Melissa,  if the only issue you have on your wedding day is rain.

Melissa’s story in the Chicago Tribune

Eva’s Bridal story in the Southtown Star

Also, if you are already married and still have your dress, but really don’t foresee it doing anything but hanging out in your closet. Eva’s is taking donations for brides who lost dresses and are in a pinch. Visit their website for more info http://www.evasbridalsofoaklawn.com/

Thunderstorms. That’s the best you can throw at me Mother Nature?

VincentDaivdJohnson.com


Congratulations Emily & Matt; Oct. 23rd, 2010

Milwaukee wedding photography

Milwaukee wedding photography It had been two years since I had shot a wedding in Milwaukee, and it was nice to be back. Ironically the last wedding I photographed was the sister of the bride, and just like I had two years ago, my day started off in the town of Wauwatosa, a cute little burb of Milwaukee, nestled along the banks of the Menomonee River. What wasn’t so cute was that after having one of the most perfect Octobers ever weather wise, the forecast for the day was for serious rain.

Luckily for the both of them the weather man was wrong and the most of the rain came before the end of the ceremony. Emily & Matt had picked out a bunch of great locations outdoors for some bridal party photos, so the weather cleared at just the right time and we were even lucky enough to get some great late afternoon sun.

The reception at the Milwaukee Yacht Club had some fantastic views of the city as well as Lake Michigan and capped off a very classy wedding.

For more photos from this wedding please visit my Facebook page. (Don’t forget to click like).

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Suzi & Dave; Aug. 28th, 2010

Wheaton Cantigny wedding photography

Wheaton Cantigny wedding photographyBeing a city person, I hardly get out to the suburbs unless it’s on assignment, or for a wedding. However, there is one place myself & most wedding photographers who work around the Wheaton area know all to well and that is Cantigny.  I know that almost sounds like I’m rolling my eyes when I say it, but there’s a reason why this place is so popular with brides & Photographers. It’s beautiful and you’d have to photograph 2 dozen weddings there before you’d run out of new places to take pictures at and that’s not including different seasons.

While I’ve shot bridal parties inside the park before, Suzi & Dave, were my first couple who were actually having their ceremony at the park half of Cantigny. Complete with our own golf cart & driver we made our way around the park and got some great photos.

The peacefulness of the park really lent itself nicely as a back drop beyond posed photos once the ceremony started.

Cantigy Wheaton Illinois wedding photography

See more photos from this wedding on my Facebook page. (Don’t forget to like me)

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Gwen & Jeff, July 4th, 2010

Wrigley Field wedding photography Chicago

Wrigley Field wedding photography Chicago

I’m a big believer in serendipity when it comes to my photos. Not saying I don’t plan things out, but if you’ve ever sat down with me while I talked about my philosophy & style, “serendipity” will no doubt have come up at some point. Gwen & Jeff, might have referred to some things that happened on their wedding day as good luck; Chicago’s July 3rd fireworks show being moved to the 4th, getting extra space at their reception venue, or bumping into Ronnie Woo-Woo while posing for pictures in front of Wrigley Field.

We went to Wrigley to get a photo, since this was the place Gwen & Jeff first met (please correct me if I’m wrong), and just happened to bump into Ronnie Woo-Woo and he was kind enough to jump into a photo with them.

Chicago wedding photography Cubs Wrigley field

While I love serendipity, I’ll also say that luck is all about how you position yourself. Gwen & Jeff picked the 4th of July and the Signature Room at the John Hancock building, because they knew at least Navy Pier would be doing fireworks.Congratulations again, you planned a beautiful wedding day.

wedding John Hancock building Chicago photography

See more photos on my Facebook page.

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Adrianna & James, June 19th, 2010

Wedding Walter Payton's Round House

Wedding Walter Payton's Round House

I photograph a dozen or more weddings each year and 99% of the time I feel that I’ve formed a very good relationship with the couples I’m working with and while I’ve never had any disasters, forming a bond with the wedding party & close family doesn’t always happen as easily. With Adrianna & Jame’s wedding that was not the case.

Tagging along side of the bridemaids & groomsmen was a blast. I even have to make special mention of the bride’s sister Marika, who was a blast to be around. Just look at some of the photos from the reception which was held at the Walter Payton Round House in Aurora, and I think you’ll see how lively this group was.

Walter Payton round house wedding reception

On another note, I’ve had a few weddings where the groom, or bride had served, or was serving in the military, but Adrianna & James, was actually the first wedding I’ve ever shot where the groom was dressed in uniform. While a uniform isn’t an option for every groom, it a great reminder that you don’t need to stick with just the same old tux or suit. My personal favorite, mostly because it’s what I wore, is a white dinner jacket instead of a black tux jacket. This works great for summer & spring weddings.

wedding photography Wheaton Warrenville

See more photos from Adrianna & James’ wedding on my Facebook page (don’t forget to click like)

vincentdavidjohnson.com



Congratulations Jinnel & Randy

Wedding at Mayslake Peabody Estate

Wedding at Mayslake Peabody Estate

I often get calls from couples who are looking for a photographer who isn’t a traditional wedding photographer and one of the main reasons for this search is because the couple feels  that they’re style, or ceremony is going to be different from the norm.

I mostly just nod in agreement and smile as couples explain exactly how different things will be from any “normal” weddings I’ve photographed and the reason I do this is, as a photographer in a major urban area I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many diverse and unique weddings, and even then, everything that can be done, has been done, unless you’re going for some Guinness World record.

Wedding photography mayslake peabody estate

The reason I bring this all up is not because Jinnel & Randy told me their wedding was going to be “so different”, but the fact that while they may have done a few things outside of the norm, it was the overall style & vibe of their wedding that truly made it feel different and unique. The Peabody Estate, had a charm & warmth, that made it feel more like you were at the summer home of a wealthy family, and the band who was hired to play swing & jazz standards was a perfect touch. Which just added to the vintage charm of Jinnel & Randy’s wedding attire, as well as most of their guests, who for lack of a better term, played dress up to go along with a swing theme.

If I can say one thing to couples looking to break out of the wedding mold, work on doing something that really speaks to who you are and not just something that nobody else is doing.

See more photos on from this wedding on my Facebook page.

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Amy & Mark April 16th, 2010

Congratulations Amy & Mark

I shot Amy & Mark’s wedding back in April. It was my first wedding of the year and the weather turned out to be better than what we just had this weekend in June.

While some couples are locationally or time challenged to find an outdoor location for posed & group photos, Amy & Mark did a little pre-planning and found a great spot at a local farmstead with a river & a big red barn.

Given the fact that we were in the South Wilmington/Gardner are in central Illinois, far from where I live, leaving an outdoor location up to me might not have work out as good as this. Which goes to show you, a little bit of leg work can help make your images even better, regardless of who your photographer is.

Congratulations again to Amy & Mark.
To see some more of my favorite photos from their wedding visit my Facebook page

Image Friendly Wedding Tips #1

Shooting into the Sun doesn’t always turn out this nice.

Its All About The Light

The most common photography question I receive from people is “How do I make a good picture?” and I tell them its all about light.

Understanding how light works and where it will be on your wedding day is key to making sure you get a good photos.

Having professional gear, a degree in photography and 15 years experience helps, but that only gets you so far.

When it comes to your wedding day, think about the lighting.

One light that never changes is the sun. From the Druids at Stonehenge to the Aztecs in Central America, people have known where the Sun will be for millennia, so with the internet it shouldn’t be to hard for you to knock it out in 10 minutes.

First up, where are you getting married? Church, park, beach, banquet hall, in a cave?
Second, what time are you getting married?

Forget about clouds or rain. If you are outside, think about which direction you will be standing, surroundings that may block light and how that effects your background as that is the one thing you can predict.

Having an October wedding at 5:30 when sunset is at 6:15 may give you that awesome golden light, but if you are in a small valley or depression, trees or hills may mask or block out that light.

Late afternoon can still give you harsh shadows, but the pay off comes in the reds, greens & blue sky.

Midday has it’s issues as well.

Harsh sun from directly over head can make nasty shadows, but scheduling after noon may lead to it’s own issues. I was married on the Chicago lakefront, on the patio of a beautiful fieldhouse. This put us between the fieldhouse (West) & the lake (East). Besides not wanting to have our wedding too early in the day, photos before 11am would see less true colors in the sky & the lake to the East. But after 1pm the patio area would be covered in shade, meaning to get proper color from my wife & I, the sky and background would have to be over exposed.

We settled on Noon as our start time and our ceremony was covered in bright sun light with a fantastic skyline and lake in the back ground.

Next time you’ll see why I also mentioned indoor locations too.


What’s more important the photographer or the photographs?


If you think about how your wedding day will unfold, you’ll realize that out of all the people you’ll be spending time with, almost no one, including your soon to be spouse, will be with you more than the photographer.

Often when I’m contacted by a couple about my services, I often hear about how they like my photos, but later I’ve been told a big reason why a couple chose me, is that during our face to face meeting I made them feel very comfortable.

This is something that took me a year or two to realize, that it was part of the services I had to offer and not just my ability to dress well & smile.

In the past I’ve talked about important things to think about when choosing your location, ways to make sure your photographer has a the opportunity to get good photos and ways to get a good photographer if you’re on a tight budget, but I’ve never actually talked about getting a photographer you’d like.

While I can’t tell you what you should personally like in a photographer, I can tell you that no matter how good the portfolio, package prices or options offered, you should actually like the photographer you’ll be working with as much as you like their products.

A few good examples of when having a likable photographer is nice are;
-when the bride and bridal party are getting dressed & ready
-in the extra small waiting rooms before the ceremony
-those intimate moments when the couple are alone, away from everybody after the ceremony
-and interacting with your guests

Still not quite sure what to look for in a photographer? Here are some good starting points.

1. Do they sound like they enjoy shooting weddings, or is this just a 9-5?

Wedding photography is a job, but while the responsibility of taking photos on one of the greatest days of a couples life is intense, if they’re not into it, it will show up in the photos as well as possibly being disruptive the day of.

2. Do they talk about bad weddings & bridezillas more than happy brides & beautiful ceremonies?
I’ll admit I’ve talked at length before about wedding mishaps and bridezillas, but I usually try to focus it on how a future couple can avoid pitfalls, as opposed to just an all out rant. Stories about how to make your wedding better are often a sign a photographer cares about your experience as much as your business.

3. Do you actually get to meet them and are they guaranteed to be your photographer?
Studios often have a sales person you meet with to discus packages, albums & prints. While you might have a choice based on portfolio, meeting the photographer is often a day of the ceremony occasion. Also, be sure to ask up front what your photographer’s switching policies are? Even small independent photographers have been know to double book a date and substitute a second photographer or assistant photographer in place of themselves.
Above all, follow your gut and not your wallet. If you get a recommendation for a photographer, ask your friends about their personality as well as their professionalism.


The 3 Most Important Things You Will Choose

Every couple I ever sit down with I tell them about the three most important things you will choose for your wedding in order.

1. The Dress

2. The Location
Chicago Skyline wedding photo

3. The Photographer

Explanation;
The Dress
– Honestly if the bride doesn’t fell like the most beautiful/important woman at her own wedding, people will know. It will show up in photos, videos and the bride sets the tone for how the guests behave and in general whether or not everybody is having a good time.

Brides, this does not mean you need a $50,000 D&G one of a kind dress. It just means you need to be happy and comfortable with what you’re wearing. If you have somebody with you whose opinion you value, take stock in what they think, but go with your gut whether it’s the first, or 20th dress you’ve tried on.

About half the brides I shot in 2008 got their dresses at David’s Bridal (unpaid plug). And I’ve seen everything from designer dresses to individual one of a kinds ( OnlyJangMi.com shameless plug for my wife’s web site), but once the dress goes on and brides see themselves in a mirror, they know why this is number 1.

The Location – I’ve seen backyard weddings that are beautiful and Luxury Hotel Receptions that are awfully tacky or bland. While renting out Millennium Park in downtown Chicago might not be an option for most of us, intimate or unique locales also set a tone for your wedding.

In a sense your wedding is as much about the day as it is about remembering the day. Is your location something that people will be talking about? Do you feel that it’s a perfect setting for your perfect day? Or is it more of a place of convenience?

Finally, will it add to, detract from, or be a non-factor in your wedding photos? Which brings us to the third most important thing.

The Photographer – Yes, I do seem a little biased on this third most important factor, but honestly it’s true. Your wedding photos will live on long after you do. Family tree albums, anniversaries. Wedding photos of deceased grandparents have been displayed at many welcome tables at weddings. The only other thing that last as long if not longer than your photos are the rings.

Not everybody you want will be able to attend your wedding, they will however want to see images from that day. You will of course want to see images from that day too, but often some of my couples’ favorite photos take place before the ceremony, or in the little moments between. Having the day documented and also having formal group photos to go along with that is the key to why photography is #3 on the list.

If you think of your wedding as just a “Day” event, then food and band selection might be more important to you, but if you realize that a wedding actually will come to symbolize so much more than just one day, you’ll make decisions based your feelings in the future.


Photojournalistic Style

New Lenox Wedding reception

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.
http://www.wedpix.com/articles/001/evolution-of-wedding-photography/

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.

www.vincentdavidjohnson.com