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What is Photojournalism? | New York Wedding Photographer

I so often have couples contact me saying “I love your photo-journalistic style!”  While I know they are referring to the natural,  non-cheesy, unaware of the camera look of couples in most of my portraits, photo-journalistic is actually a misnomer in the case of most of the images I display on my website.  So I thought I’d take a minute to discuss photojournalism.

So what is photojournalism?  A true, 100% photojournalist photographer is one who would show up on your wedding day and like a ninja would not be seen or heard, no formal portraits would be taken, and your album would be comprised of 100% purely candid moments.  Many couples love this style as it tells a true version of the day and means no time spent taking photos, but what’s sacrificed is the opportunity to use light and scenery in a beautiful way, as well as an opportunity for a skilled photographer to pose you in the most flattering way for your face and body type in order to create images that would be worthy of hanging on a wall as a work of art.  This is by no means a knock on photojournalism as a style.  I know several amazing photo-journalistic photographers but what they do, while brilliant, is very different from what I do.   Their images tend to be concerned with mostly just emotion and storytelling, but for a bride or groom who are not as camera-conditioned as some this might not be good news.  I take pride in being able to make anyone look their very best on camera during the portrait part of the wedding.

Almost no photographers are 100% photo-journalistic, and all wedding photographers are photographing an event so they are in some sense partially photo-journalistic.   In fact, for most of the day, I let things unfold naturally and only insert myself a few times to make suggestions such as, “This would be an excellent spot to get into your dress.”  However, I am never going to be interrupting a genuine moment to ask you to turn and smile, so in that way I definitely have some ninja-like, photo-journalistic elements to my style!

However, most people hire me for my ability to create beautiful portraits.  I call it “Creating Candid Moments.”  In my case I would say that photojournalism, along with films, art, and landscape photography inspires my bride and groom portraits, but they are not candid.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time studying posing and what looks natural which has given me the ability to pose my couples in a way that looks beautiful and flattering and well composed, but still looks natural and candid to the unknowing viewer, though a photographer might recognize the careful choices made in lighting and composition.  I pose, I tweak, I direct the portraits to achieve the most flattering images, but I also have a gift for keeping portrait time fun and light-hearted which means the images feel intimate, fun, relaxed, natural and REAL.   My goal is that the setting, backdrop, lighting tell your unique love story, as if one was watching a romantic movie and pushed “pause.”   Perhaps you could call it “cinematic.”  Once posed, I have little tricks to get the couple to interact naturally and in that way “create a candid moment.”  Though many images on my website have a photo journalistic vibe, most of the images I showcase on the first page of my website are from the one-hour block of time my brides and grooms give me for portraits.  For fun, why don’t we play a game called, “Candid or Portrait?”

I’ll start with an easy one…Candid or Portrait?

Of course the above image is candid.  I did not pose the groom and his mom for this, but this was taken in the moment during their first dance.

Candid or Portrait?

The above image is a portrait from the bride and groom’s portrait time.  Seeing an opportunity for a beautiful composition, I asked her to walk a step ahead of him across this path.

Candid or Portrait?

Hopefully it’s obvious to you that no one sits together this cute on their own.  I posed them and then giving each person someone to look at besides the camera, took the shot.

Candid or Portrait?

These are candids from the couples first dance.  A 70-200 allowed me to get in really close to really capture the deep emotion in the second image without interrupting their moment or making the couple camera-conscious.

Candid or Portrait?

This moment is a portrait.  This staircase was an opportunity to showcase both the venue and vineyard behind as well as the fog creating a moody portrait.  Doesn’t this look like someone pressed pause on an old, romantic film?

Candid or Portrait?

This is a classic example of what I mean by “creating candid moments.”  I posed this couple and their loveable dog in this spot with the nice light and leading lines in the background.  Her natural reaction was to cuddle with the dog and his natural gaze at her was so loving.  I didn’t interrupt to get the pose I was originally thinking of, I let it unfold.  I didn’t even ask him to kiss her on the temple!  I posed them and created an opportunity for real romance to happen!

Candid or Portrait?

Okay I tricked you this time.  All the other walking photos have been portraits, but this one is a candid.   We were walking back from bridal portraits and I saw an opportunity.  Seeing as I wasn’t wearing heels like the bride and could run ahead of her, I did and captured her and her girls coming up the walkway from afar.

Candid or portrait?

The left one might be pretty obviously a portrait, but you’d be surprised how many people think photos like the one on the right are candid.  Not so.  Even a simple kissing picture takes a good amount of posing and adjustments to look this romantic!


Hopefully this answers a lot of bride’s questions about “What is Photojournalism?”  Thanks for playing “Candid or Portrait”! I am your host Caroline Frost Shea, see you next time!

If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy: 5 Tips to Help You Pick Your New York Wedding Photographer





jaine {brklyn view photography} - August 20, 2013 - 10:24 am

this is so cute & super helpful for brides!!

Amy Rizzuto - August 20, 2013 - 3:13 pm

I LOVE this post! What a fun game Caroline. :)

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