Usually when I meet with brides prior to their wedding and we discuss their wedding photography needs, I tell them that Austin Americana Photography photographs weddings in a photojournalistic-style. And what that means to me as an Austin wedding photojournalist is that the photographs and images that I capture at their wedding should tell a story.
Another thing that I tell brides is that we photograph the unfolding wedding story as it happens, unrehearsed, throughout the day or night. And when we finish, we take a special selection of these images and put them together into a group of wedding photographs that tell a one-of-a-kind story about your wedding day.
Wikipedia defines photojournalism as,
“A particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism.” – Wikipedia.org
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines photojournalism as,
“Journalism in which written copy is subordinate to pictorial usu. photographic presentation of news stories or in which a high proportion of pictorial presentation is used.”
Names of photographers or images of well known photographs come to mind when thinking of the word “photojournalism”. Nineteenth and twentieth century photojournalists such as Robert Capa (World War II), Henry Cartier-Bresson (international street photography) , Matthew Brady (U.S. Civil War), Margaret Bourke-White (Great Depression), Alfred Eisenstaedt (World War II) and others created iconic images that graced the pages of mainstream magazines and newspapers, inspiring multiple generations of photojournalism students and photographers. These photographers prided themselves on telling an honest, objective story with their photographs.
But as a modern wedding photojournalist, I don’t just stick the strict photojournalism principles that are used for capturing news as it happens in a purely subjective way. Austin Americana Photography attempts to add an additional layer onto telling the story of your day: Magic!
The truth is that much of what happens in our daily lives is often trivial and boring. Our lives are frequently habitual and routine, and unfortunately this can occur even at the most important events of our lives, including weddings. That’s why it’s up to the story teller (me, the photojournalist) to add some magic and excitement to what is happening, so that the images captured on wedding day have some pizzazz and intrigue.
As an Austin Wedding Photojournalist and Photographer, I want to create an air of energy and excitement to the “getting ready” photos of a bride prior to the ceremony. There should be some emotion and intensity that can be felt when viewing photos of a wedding ceremony. And hopefully a level of celebration and joy can be felt in images from the reception. Creating some emotion and stirring feelings in the viewer of a photograph is what Austin Americana Photography does and what makes the wedding special.
This morning I awoke from another wedding nightmare. Perhaps brides have nightmares about dress malfunctions and grooms dream that they are losing their freedom, but wedding photographers have dreams of equipment malfunction – which is the worst thing that can happen to a photographer.
I’ll set up the dream: It’s a balmy summer afternoon and I photograph a vivacious blonde bride and her robust, biker groom at a church that doesn’t exist. Everything goes well. Then we all climb into automobiles and travel to the reception location. When we arrive it’s much darker (perhaps evening or night) and time passes quickly. Everyone is seated around a big table (including myself, which I would never do in real life) and we’re imbibing and eating and having a great time. As the meal is finished the groom stands and announces that he and his bride will soon make their grand exit and everyone prepares. I panic. I realize that during all the fun and excitement I’ve forgotten that I’m the official photographer for the event and my batteries are not charged. I quickly load my flash with 4 AA batteries, but to no avail – They’re dead. The room is dimly lit and the shutter won’t move in such a dark environment, at least not without a tripod -which is akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight!
As the menacing groom escorts his bride out he gives me a menacing look, as if to say, “I know your batteries are dead because your flash is not popping”!
….and then I am awake and wondering why I’m having a nightmare about something that has never happened and will never happen. But how can I be sure this bad situation will never come to pass? Preparation – it’s the only way to fly.
The day before a big event, like a wedding, I charge up dozens of batteries for my cameras, flashes and other equipment. I follow a check list for everything I do, kind of like a pilot or an astronaut would follow a mission checklist when they prepare to fly an aircraft. 1. Do this. Check. 2. Do that. Check… You get the idea.
Having photographed dozens of weddings, I’ve never had a major incident like what happened in my nightmare. Some people might say that I’ve been lucky. When I was in high school one of my athletic coaches, a gruff, stocky old man who played NFL Football before the use of helmets (that’s my theory anyway) used to say that luck was when “preparation meets opportunity.” I like to think that he was 100% correct. That’s why I use a checklist to prepare for weddings. Besides, I can’t afford to just be lucky. I have to take every step possible to make sure that I am prepared to capture every great moment from a wedding, quickly and seamlessly.