Finding your photographer is like going through a visual/verbal maze. There are more labels than you can shake a stick at, as my dad used to say. One problem is that there is a belief that photographers’ styles fall crisply into neat groupings, like traditional, photojournalistic, fashion, etc. Deb Carpenito of WeddingPhotoUSA has several nice articles two of the most ubiquitous, traditional and photojournalistic. I’ve added two more recently minted ones – Fine Art and Fashion – to put together a bit of a vocabulary lesson to help you through the maze.
THE LABEL GAME
Traditional or classic – these photographers come to your wedding with a fairly specific set of “must have” shots (bride with veil, bride and groom with ring, bride with dad, etc.). They are very practiced at taking those shots. Their skill can vary enormously – from hackneyed to terrific. It’s a mistaken belief that these photographers are staid or old fashion. The fact is, some of the most stunning photographs have come from this “traditional” camp. Look at the work of Jerry Ghionis, he takes all the standard shots…but wow, are they ever glorious.
Photojournalistic or Documentary – a hot label for people who shoot more loosely and purport to document wedding events as they happen. There is a fallacy that this approach is unstructured and therefore unpredictable. While these photographers are more opportunistic – reacting to what they see – they almost always take preplanned shots like group portraits, too. Even the amazingly talented British photographer Jeff Ancough, the master of available light and the unscripted shot does straight up portraits.
Fashion or Couture – an even hotter and newer label, these are the photographers who emulate the latest magazine styles of photography. Highly stylized and often verging on spectacular, they use techniques and attitudes, sometimes very edgy, that were born in American & European advertising studios. The luscious work of Ethiopian born Australian photographer Yervant typifies this high style magazine spreads but in real weddings.
Fine Art – another recently minted descriptor for more impressionistic and artful styles of work. This approach emphasizes getting a beautiful photograph more than recording attendees or capturing a day. These affects are often achieved after the fact by seriously “post processing” (i.e. manipulated in a computer or darkroom) shots. The resultant can be toned, black & white, dreamy photographs, whatever but they can be something you can envision hanging on a gallery wall. In fact, while great photographers can produce “Fine Art” with any of the above approaches, there are some who seem specifically focused on that result. Joe Buissink, LA’s photographer to the stars, regularly turns out such artful work . . . with the help of his master printer.
THE BOTTOM LINE?
Most photographers, myself included, have a range of styles that blend across the various visual continuums. The good news is that what you see is what you get. You should be able to judge the style you like from the look you see. Don’t chase labels, trust your eyes.
Learn about other styles of photography:
About the Author:
The spirit of a wedding day lives in fleeting events, unfolding without direction. Wedding photojournalism is how the story of a wedding day can be captured artfully. Trained as a designer (BA & MFA) and skilled in visual story telling, Dan Derby works quietly throughout your wedding day making sure this happens. He is based in New England but travels where ever he’s needed.