– Part 1, Defining THE REPORTAGE STYLE: What Reportage / Photojournalist style is in wedding photography and how it differs from the Editorial style.
Dear bride, groom and reader, today I wish to talk about some certain styles of wedding photography that couples who are planning their wedding, often come across when browsing around for their wedding photographer.
Have you guys heard the expression Editorial style photography? How about Reportage / photo journalist style? Yep thought you’d know that one! Most wedding couples that I meet with like those natural shots – the shots of your smiling and champagne drinking guests caught totally unaware by the camera. Many couples refer to this as the “reportage style photography”. But nobody ever mentions the “Editorial style”, although this might very well be the word that you are looking for, if you want your shots to be natural as in the reportage style, but sort of reminiscent of something from a fashion or wedding magazine.
Gone are the days when the wedding photographer was just stood outside church after your ceremony, waiting to capture that one shot for the frame on your wall. In modern wedding photography most photographers are there to document your whole day – creating a story told in images. The reportage/Photojournalist style and The editorial style are both genres in wedding photography which aim to tell your day as a story in images.
So I am intending to sort out the definitions a little bit. In this chapter I will describe more in detail what reportage / photojournalist style entails, what the expression is born from, what sort of images you can expect from it and what is required for the photographer to practice this style. Next, I will do a follow up chapter, which defines the Editorial style photography.
The key elements of reportage style photography
- Reportage style wedding photography descends from journalism: Just as reporters are sent out by a newspaper to cover a story from an “objective” angle, the wedding photographer is there as an eye from outside to capture all the moments on your wedding day, without interfering.
- What characterizes reportage / photojournalist style wedding photography, is that the images seem to be moments frozen in time of what actually happened in that split second – nobody is addressing the camera: it is as if the actual camera wasn’t even there.
- Reportage / photojournalist style photography tells a story: I placed quotation marks on ‘objective’ above, since really, a story told in a reportage way is actually never totally ‘objective’ – there will be a brief for the news photographer, such as: capturing the sad/joyful atmosphere, showing how rich/poor somebody is by including certain elements in the image, and so forth. The reportage style wedding photographer will do the same: He/she has a brief inside their head of what to capture: People’s reactions, the joyful/tearful atmosphere, certain details that says something about you or your venue, etc.
- Quite the opposite to what it sounds like: Reportage / photojournalist style wedding photography has a lot of pre- planning to it: In order for the photographer to work independently on the day, the photographer will probably need to know a lot of details about your wedding beforehand – such as exact timings, pre- visits to venues involved to see what the natural light is like and where the good vantage points are. As just mentioned, it’s not a question about snap- shooting on your day, it’s a question about being as prepared as possible to be in the right place with the right camera settings on your actual day.
- Reportage / photojournalist style wedding photographs can be totally straight forward or how ever creatively shot: The image will have the appearance to be a frozen moment. But that does not mean that there isn’t a lot of work put in to it by the photographer. Just as in the news paper/magazine world, where there are certain photographers that win the big awards and are world famous, while others supply for a local paper – reportage style wedding photographers can range just as much in quality: But the bottom line is, that a well shot reportage style image is never “just a snap”. It carries the photographer’s mark, style and professionalism, which all comes from how well he/she knows how to calculate the light, see the composition and capture the moment.
- How ever, the reportage / photojournalist photographer does not really interfere with what is happening, nor does he/she hold up the bride and groom to direct them. The pre- planning is merely for the photographer to be prepared and then when the day comes, the photographer will capture everything as it happens. Of course, all photographers are different and a photographer can practice the reportage style without being totally rigid, but if the photographer would to be real hard core reportage style, then this would mean that he/she wouldn’t interfere at all. For example: The dress would not be moved to a different place than where it’s already been hung in the morning, even though it could make a better photograph somewhere else. The photographer probably wouldn’t ask the bride to get ready in a different spot where light and composition is better. And so forth.
- In reportage / photojournalist style, every image aims to be strong in it self: It aims to convey emotions, to make the viewer feel a certain way and to tell a story or communicate something about that precise moment in time: Every image should tell a story on it’s own.
- A reportage / photojournalist style image is at its best when it manages to capture a decisive moment: Imagine that the time and what is happening is a long line. But all the sudden there is a moment on that time- line that has something extra to it and the photographer captures that. It can be a certain gaze from the subject, a moment of emotion, or perhaps a moment when lots of things are happening at once in the image, and light and composition is just right. One second earlier it wasn’t there. One second later that moment is gone. It is a decisive moment – an interruption on that long line of time. That’s what the reportage style wedding photographer aims to capture!
- Black and white photography is a bit of a signature for the reportage / photojournalist style: Reportage photography was born in an era when all photography was black and white and mainly used as news value or to document reality. For this reason, black and white photography kind of carries the meaning of being “real” and “objective”. Black and white also adds a certain drama and might de- cluster the composition. This doesn’t mean that all modern photographers who favor this style, will also favor black and white images. It’s up to each individual photographer’s taste, but a lot of reportage / photojournalist photographers do tend to include black and white images for their clients.
Is there a difference between Reportage, Photojournalist and Documentary style photography?
These 3 are all apples from the same tree really. But on a spectra between totally objective photography and more creative photography, the Reportage style would be most objective, while Photojournalism could be a bit less restricted and more creative, and documentary style even more creative. The reportage style is bound to stay objective since it is supposed to have news value, while documentary photography, although it tells a story about something that really has happened/is happening, can be more creative in terms of letting the photographer suggest locations, moving subjects or objects around etc. Editorial photography would be even one step further towards the creative side.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the information in this article! Underneath are two galleries sampling reportage style photography. Next time I will talk about EDITORIAL STYLE wedding photography – the differences and the similarities it has to reportage / photojournalism / documentary and why you could say that it has a look that fuses the reportage style with the look of magazine/fashion/advertising.
* For this article I wrote most of the text from memory – I made my final essay at uni on H C Bresson and his idea about the decisive moment, and I tell you the work for a final essay kind of sticks. But I did have a recap on Bresson and borrowed his images from www.henricartierbresson.org
Chapter 2 is now live. Click to read about Editorial style wedding photography vs the reportage style