I came across an image showing two photographers recently — one a videographer, the other a still photographer — both moving in close (read "crowding") to a bride and groom as they kissed.
I’m sure they captured a stunning shot, but what struck a chord with me was just how invasive these two photographers were.
I’m a trained photojournalist — what that means today isn’t always clear. But at one time it was supposed to mean that I was responsible for documenting my subjects without intrusion or direction.
At a wedding I do not direct the course of events but rather, with care, interpret real
moments and frame them in a such way that goes beyond the ordinary.
With training and practice, a good wedding photojournalist can elevate the subject and create rich storytelling images from even the smallest, quietest moments happening in front of the lens.
If you’re getting married? Your wedding is not the subject of a big budget motion picture, nor are you a fashion model doing a bridal shoot for Vogue
It's ok to be a real person with promises, commitments and, yes, even problems. I encourage you to participate in this uniquely human ritual not because you want bragging rights on Instagram, but because it's supposed to mean something.
Unsuspecting couples often hire a wedding photographer without a true understanding of this.
So what's my advice to anyone hiring a photographer for their wedding?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. For instance, “Wow, that’s a crazy, awesome picture. Would you mind telling me how you made it?”
The answer to this question, of course, will tell you how careful the photographer was, what their true motivations were, whether it really illustrates the couple’s own personal story and whether it was made at a wedding at all.
Today, the trend is for photographers to show a portfolio of images that are often not photographed at a wedding at all, but made from styled shoots with models. I think it's because making beautiful, touching and intimate wedding pictures without directing the couple and their guests is just plain hard to do.
Please don’t get me wrong. Everyone loves a good photo shoot. It’s why I encourage couples who want this type of imagery to schedule a post-wedding photo session. To illustrate this, I've included pictures of Christin and Jacob's wedding day photographed in a photojournalistic style at Keystone Resort. Two days later we spent a relaxed afternoon together at Mount Falcon Park.
On the day of your wedding, resist the urge to cater to the photographer’s every whim. Don’t be afraid to say when you’ve had enough.
Your wedding is a special day; the start of a lifelong commitment. Don’t let it be sullied by a photographer who doesn’t know enough to respect it.
Always remember this is your day, not theirs.
Colorado Springs photojournalist Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. You can see his wedding work at caytonphotography.com, his personal work at seancayton.com and his editorial work in the Colorado Springs Independent.