How to get candid & photojournalistic shots...not "snapshots"?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by tina___cliff_t, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. Maybe its just personal preference, but is there really a difference? As a photographer getting into wedding photography (Done weddings for family & friends, thinking about getting more experience & going pro...someday), and a bride looking for a photographer...I have a real hard time with the candid or photojournalist approach.
    It seems like most PJ photographers just take a snapshot, turn it black and white and call it PJ. Is this the jist of it? (I'm not trying to offend anyone, just understand what I'm missing).
    If your style is candid or PJ could you post a picture that would show what makes the candid or PJ style better than a snapshot? Or explain what you do that makes it special? Is it composition, or just capturing all the "right" moments vs just everybody standing around...?

    I've seen some really pretty photos from people with the PJ style, but seriously...they are almost all black & white, which makes me feel like I'm being tricked into thinking they are "artistic"...when really, they are snapshots. As I bride It makes me picky about paying someone over $1000 for this.
    Hope I explained what I was confused about, and did not make anyone mad. I just want to understand what I am missing, both as a photographer & a customer haha. I'm thinking it largely has to do with preference (why I will most likely hire a traditional photographer, vs another bride would go PJ style), but I want to get opinions of other people.
    kind of an example of what I'm talking about (Though there are far better out there)
    http://www.imagebam.com/image/50144330587144
     
  2. "It seems like most PJ photographers just take a snapshot, turn it black and white and call it PJ"
    ouch, it's a good thing this is in the wedding forum... you're playing with fire there. because something is called photojournalism doesn't make it so... the image you sighted is a prime example.
     
  3. ya, thats why I said sorry if I offended anyone. I'm not always the most tactful with my words when expressing how I feel about something.
     
  4. IMHO photojournalism photographs tell a story within the photo. The techniques used to produce the photograph are usually excellently executed. And as all photojournalism photographs, while they can stand alone and tell a story, when combined with other photographs of the story they work together to complete the story. In short when looking at a photographer's photojournalism work, I would view it as if it were to be used to illustrate a story in a magazine.
    Again, this is just my two cents.
    And I do not do photojournalistic wedding photography. Its too hard and there is usually not enough time for me to do it the way I would think it should be done. again that's just me.
     
  5. Thanks Marcus, that gives me something to look for :D
     
  6. I think the only difference between a snapshot and a wedding photojournalistic image is intent. Intent of showing a "newsworthy" moment or a story and also intentional composition and everything that goes with that. If it's a good PJ image this should be apparent. The photographer just didn't happen to be standing there and snapped his camera at the scene. However I think real photojournalism and wedding photojournalism are worlds apart.
     
  7. "I think real photojournalism and wedding photojournalism are worlds apart."
    What do you mean pete?
     
  8. "Real" photojournalism is documenting all the emotions, actions and reactions involved in varied events captured in photographs telling a story that is generally new's worthy and published in newspapers and magazines. Wedding photojournalism documents the events captured for the couple that tell the story of that very special day that also includes all the emotions, actions and reactions that were involved specifically in the wedding setting made into a wedding photo album. I think what photojournalism and wedding photojournalism have most importantly in common is shooting candid photos of their subjects, what you seem to be mislabeling as "snap shots". Exclusively shooting what your calling traditional wedding photos, are what I think of as the "formal" shots. These day's I think photographers shoot a combination of both styles, including myself. "Without words to tell a story, you have human emotion and action portrayed in wedding photojournalism style photographs to do so. " - LC
     
  9. Real photojournalism is a shooter going out and taking pictures of events for a publication (newspaper, magazine, AP, Reuters..etc...etc..) They get the shots in an unpredictable environment under extreme lighting conditions with almost no control over composition (unless you're in a press conference)
    The term photojournalism (in my mind) is a misnomer. When the decent digital SLR's came on the scene about 4-5 years ago, everyone started to buy them. They were mostly part-timer (like yourself) shooting weddings and the term "wedding photojournalism" came into being. The event flowed and pictures were taken "on the fly". Often the pictures were "snapshots" because part-timers did not have the knowledge and/or experience to compose and expose properly. There is a huge reliance upon PS.
    You stated a preference for traditional wedding photography over PJ style. That's fine. There are plenty of traditional photographers out there. If you feel comfortable shooting traditional style, that should be your goal. There are clients out there that want a well exposed and composed shot....nothing fancy. No PS actions, no trendy poses. If you want a traditional photographer to take your wedding...so be it.
    As I was taught in school....don't fall for the peer pressure of doing X...and I think X in your case is PJ style.
    There are so many flavors of photography out there that it boggles the mind.
    Dave
     
  10. Two "real" photojournalists web sites:
    http://www.georgeweir.com/
    http://www.f8studio.com/f8/html/viewHuy.html
     
  11. The difference between a bland snapshot and a good photo is that in the latter case a good photographer pays attention to what is happening around him or her at the event, makes an emotional, aesthetic and intellectual investment in makign the photo, and when editing figures out how certain images in sequence move the story of the event along and getthe viewer vested in the photos.
     
  12. If you don't personally like candid (aka: journalistic) wedding photography ... don't shoot it, and don't buy it. But, I'd caution against relegating it to a derogatory category usually associated with being thoughtless and unskilled. Quite the contrary.
    The tradition of candid, i.e. "unaware" photography goes back to the very invention of smaller, quicker, more mobile and less intrusive cameras. This allowed skilled and sensitive photographers to capture things as they really happened without the interference that was the product of slow, cumbersom cameras where the subjects were quite aware of having their photo taken. This in turn led to school of candid photography with the underlying notion that came to be called (and still is) "The Decisive Moment".
    Decisive Moment photography is NOT easy. Many claim to shoot that way, but do not have the innate skill, experience, patience or emotional accuracy to pull it off. It's not easily taught either. Either you get it or you don't.
    This is not to say that some "snap shot" can't be a decisive moment. The difference is one of consistency. A good or great candid wedding photographer does it over and over ... so it isn't just a lucky accident. It's a well honed talent. Also, a good candid wedding photographer pays attention to artistic merits ... like quality and direction of light, composition as well as decisive timing. This means anticipating what is going to happen, and getting into position to capture it while taking into consideration the art principles.
    B&W is often used for this style of photography because it tends to force attention on what the picture is about rather than how pretty it is. For that reason it also tends to thought of as being a more direct emotional conduit between viewer and the subject matter. For a wedding, a powerful emotional connection is probably a good thing I'd say.
    I assure you that the attached image was not posed, nor did the subject have a clue I was photographing them.
    00Sqpj-118943984.jpg
     
  13. BTW, candid work need not be B&W to work .... sometimes color is an important part of the mini-story ... like a red strawberry and a pure white dress : -)
    00SqqJ-118947584.jpg
     
  14. I love the title "Dress in danger!", that is right on. haha
    Marc can you suggest any books on this type of photography?
     
  15. Thank you, Marc.
    I think you put it very well. I love the honestly, and true emotions that come from capturing a 'decisive moment'. I like to think I can do it half decently (though I could always use more practice), and more and more brides seem to want this style.
    That's an awesome picture of the bride&child...
    Christina
    The last book about photography I read was the manual for my camera. The last class I took was a semester in high school (15yrs ago). You need practice more than anything. (Me too I assure you!) As you work, and as you shoot weddings, what and how you love to shoot will come to the surface. Good 'decisive moment' photography comes from the desire to create it.
    I find it immensely rewarding. So I practice. Marc does too. That picture of the bride&child above came from three things, Practice (allowing the right exposure/focus for the backlit subject), Preparedness (compensated with proper, diffused lighting), and patience (waiting for the right moment). The result is a picture that is outstanding, and the bride will adore!
    00Sqxv-118993684.JPG
     
  16. "Real photojournalism is a shooter going out and taking pictures of events for a publication (newspaper, magazine, AP, Reuters..etc...etc..) They get the shots in an unpredictable environment under extreme lighting conditions with almost no control over composition"
    Sorry but I had to laugh when I read that statement. Compare newspaper photographer going out to a public event and needing to get one good photo for the editor to a wedding photographer who will be spending 8 or more hours with the bride and groom and their family getting ready, at the ceremony, shoot formal pictures of 50 or more people, and then bring back candids images of the reception, and present well over 1000 pictures to the bride and groom and all the pictures should tell a story, capture a moment, be in focus, composed, and with a correct exposure using a combination of the venues' tungsten and fluorescent lighting with fill added by the photographer's flash and have the image look "natural" and not like something by Weegee (Arthur Felig).
    When I look at the PJ images in Time, Newsweek, People, API, most show very little photographic skill and very little in the way of journalism.
    It is to be expected that photographers are often not skilled at portraits, posing, directing people, product photography (rings, cake, etc.) and capturing candid moments with well composed images in the vein of Cartier-Bresson. Often PJ is an excuse to not "bother" with shooting anything other than candids as the photographer lacks the necessary skills to provide other types of images. There are also photographers, in particular those running a portrait studio during the week and shooting weddings on Saturdays, that find it very difficult to make the transistion from a full controlled environment where they can use one lighting setup, one camera, and one lens all week long, to the controlled caos that is wedding photography where the only thing the photographer can hope to control is their equipment and their sense of humor.
    Couples in selecting a photographer should trust their gut reaction to examples of the photographer's work and what they see or don't see will tell them whether there is likely to be a good match. If they do not like what they see they cannot expect miracles later. The same applies to selecting a second photographer where both their skill with photography and in working with people is clearly evident in their images.
     
  17. Christina, one way to grasp the underlying thinking of any current style of photography is to become aware of it's origins. In the case of "candid" work the historical record is a rich one. Books on it are available on-line, at book stores, and at the library.
    In the first half of the twentieth century, the dean of this style was Henri Cartier-Bresson, who actually coined the phrase "Decisive Moment" to describe his photographic intent. He was one of the foremost proponents of small camera photography and helped make the tiny Leica rangefinder camera famous ... the first camera to employ the 35mm film used for making movies in a still camera so small you could put it your pocket. Suddenly, photography became very mobile and far less intrusive. Books on Bresson are plentiful. Just Google his name.
    As a point of recent historical departure, wedding photography was forever changed when Denis Reggie photographed the marriage of John Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette ... producing what has been described as the most famous wedding photo of all time ... a candid image of the groom kissing the hand of his new wife as they left the quaint little church where they were married. Most certainly not the first candid wedding photo ever, but a milestone one that signaled the departure from the dominance of more structured styles. (BTW, that photo is in color : -)
    It should be noted that the historical origins of what we call "traditional" wedding photography (more structured and controlled) is also a rich one. Essentially starting way before photography was even invented. Dutch masters is a good place to start ... all the way forward to famous photographers like Richard Avedon to name just one, and Annie Liebowitz to name another.
    The trick for you is to get someone that's good at either approach for your stated $1,000+. budget. You'll have to get an emerging talent that's just starting on the upswing, and recognize that what may be lacking is consistency and experience.
    All the best to you, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding.
     
  18. I often use longer lenses so people are unaware of my presents. Every photographer has a style, but this works well for me. I often look beyond the subject, because the background can be very interesting and tell a separate story. I'm also always studying lighting when I work. The right light can create an amazing image, whereas just taking a candid usually does nothing to move people and attract emotions, therefore lighting is perhaps the most important part of the PJ image.
    For example if there is a video guy at the wedding with a light on, turn your flash off and just use that light. You will need to crack up your ISO to around 2000, and use a faster lens; 2.8 or less, but the results can be wonderful effects.
     
  19. Bruce
    I think we both are trying to say the same thing. Editoral is totally different from wedding and their priorities are speed to press and a decent image. Editorial has to deal with the light given to them and, in many cases, they are restricted to a box in a venue or behind the police tape.
    Wedding togs have more freedom of movement and more control over lighting. The need to compose and expose properly is event more critical.
    Dave Bean
     
  20. Thanks everyone :D I meant PJ/candid in terms of weddings (thus posting in weddings haha).
    I think knowing the understanding behind the PJ/candid style will help me as a bride to figure out who are experienced, and those who are still practicing.
    I personally don't plan to shoot the style (I just don't have the eye for it), but my finacee (whos gotten the photo bug) wants too. :p
     
  21. ~A wedding is a planned event. The wedding photographer is hired to photograph the planned event. This means you have planned shots at a planned event i.e. there are "normal" shots needed and wanted by the bridal couple. How the photographs are captured can define the style of the photographer, imo.
    ~A photographer who is traditional will tend to take only planned shots.
    ~A photographer who is strictly photojournalistic wants free reign to shoot the wedding as it happens from their individual perspective: no planned / posed shots are taken at all.
    ~What bridal couples seem to want these days: a combo of the two styles to be used for their planned wedding event. It's common to have situations where there are formals being taken (planned) but a photographer can quickly swing their camera to a child sitting in the third pew who is interacting with a grandparent and take a shot that is Not Formal and is photojournalistic even though taken between setting up formal shots.
    To a lot of us this seems normal but new photographers can struggle with the concept. There are planned shots at most weddings that you are expected to get and then there are "moments", the treasured slices of life, that are happening all around us during the course of a wedding event. Your awareness and willingness to "see" them during a hectic day can move a photographers style from strictly traditional to photojournalistic: it's a matter of understanding the two styles and being willing to look for the photographs as the day moves forward.
    Imo, using a Traditional style blended with Photojournalistic sets of photographs gives the the total package of image files an emotional rise and fall: it's like visual Music captured and saved. It's a good thing.
    It's a conscious effort similar to seeing light; start to see the moments happening all around you. Be active in the process; it's not rocket science but it has to be an active initiative on your part.
    Christina, I'd urge you to add a few PJ shots in with your traditional shots ... it's fun and clients Love the change. Being aware of your surroundings and switching between the styles keeps things energized for you as a photographer too.
    The shot below is moments after formals and just before going into seclusion to await the beginning of the ceremony part of the day. It was in tough light (mottled and outdoors) and totally unplanned and out of my control or direction; they didn't even know I took it since I was packing up gear and saw them coming together out of the corner of my eye (because I've made a conscious effort to look for the social interaction that Always seems to follow the formal sessions which is the case here).
    00SrAK-119053584.jpg
     
  22. Hi Christina. Good question. I like Marcus Williams' response: photojournalism tells a story within the picture. Good examples of the genre are no more 'snapshots' than any other accomplished photogaphy. Many of the greats have had no qualms about manipulating the scene and/or the print to achieve their desired result (Cartier-Bresson, Eugene Smith).

    Technically, photojournalists produce images for distribution through the media - to illuminate and inform. What I believe you are asking about is nothing less than the sum total of what makes a strong photographic image - control of the medium and of the craft. Forgive me, but using your posted photo as an example:

    1) The bride's head is in the center of the photo. The Rule of Thirds is only a guide, but it is a guide. Elements need balance and/or flow to interest us and produce an emotional response. Once I have my subject in the viewfinder I spend most of my time reviewing what's happening around the edges. 2) The background highlights distract us from the intended subject. The eye goes to the highlights (i'm talking b&w), and they should be used to control what the viewer sees. 3) There is no separation of elements. Drama comes from the way we perceive shapes, and interesting shapes are created by the spaces between content.

    Wedding photos need only satisfy the client, and the bride in that photo may be delighted with the emotions she feels, looking at it and knowing what's going on. But it is not successful as a photojournalistic image because it only provides routine information, not enough to get a stranger involved. We have no questions about what happened before or what will come after...

    Speaking of strangers, the PJ, or 'street' approach, at a wedding, requires sticking your normal perspective lens into people's personal spaces. A lot. If you are not comfortable doing that; if you don't feel that it is your right because you are entrusted with the job of getting good images; then I don't suggest it. If you feel awkward it will show in the shots. Working to make people more comfortable while you're walking around shooting will make you more comfortable, and people will respond to that.

    The artistic advantage of shooting in b&w is that the amount of information is reduced. It is easier to control the emotional impact of an image when you're just working with shapes and the zone system (exposure and development control). People have highly personal responses to colors, and lots of contrast is often necessary to provide interest. I think when we call b&w 'artistic', we're talking about feeling more comfortable, more at ease - wanting to go in and search the image rather than feeling it thrust at us.

    Thanks. I think I needed to think about this myself. I hope my portfolio backs up my words. I always come back to 2 simple rules: Take a LOT of pictures; and ONLY show people the good ones. For wedding photography, i'd add a third rule: control your fill flash.
     
  23. Most couples today want a traditional set of formals with a book of candid "photojournalistic style" images. In true PJ, you cannot change the images or remove unwanted and distracting elements your job is to capture the event warts and all. Having said this, how many brides would be happy with unsightly warts for their wedding pictures?
    Since most people want to display at least one of their wedding pictures in a frame, they tend to choose the formal portrait in the church, exchanging rings or other traditional images. When putting together an album, most like the feel of the story telling approach as it encapsulates the entire event onto roughly 20 pages and each picture moves the story forward. Have you ever noticed that parties hosted by an MC or DJ seem to be more organized and move along better than those who shoot from the hip? Same is true for the wedding album, it organizes the images into a managable number that has structure and moves you through the day's events. The casual nature of the album lends itself more to what I call "implied photo journalism" meaning that although you attempt to capture the true feeling of the event, you use editorial license and leave out the pictures of the crying kids and drunken groomsmen (unless that's the look your client wants) and you focus on the way the couple want to remember their wedding day, not necessairly the way the day actually went. It never hurts to give the client a beautiful storybook ending to their special day, true photojournalism with its unaltered look probably won't impress most couples, simple candid shots are 50/50 if they add or take away from the story, but well planned images with a purpose is a great compromise for everyone.
     
  24. Marc Williams. Congratulations.
     
  25. Most couples today want a traditional set of formals with a book of candid "photojournalistic style" images. In true PJ, you cannot change the images or remove unwanted and distracting elements your job is to capture the event warts and all. Having said this, how many brides would be happy with unsightly warts for their wedding pictures?
    Since most people want to display at least one of their wedding pictures in a frame, they tend to choose the formal portrait in the church, exchanging rings or other traditional images. When putting together an album, most like the feel of the story telling approach as it encapsulates the entire event onto roughly 20 pages and each picture moves the story forward. Have you ever noticed that parties hosted by an MC or DJ seem to be more organized and move along better than those who shoot from the hip? Same is true for the wedding album, it organizes the images into a managable number that has structure and moves you through the day's events. The casual nature of the album lends itself more to what I call "implied photo journalism" meaning that although you attempt to capture the true feeling of the event, you use editorial license and leave out the pictures of the crying kids and drunken groomsmen (unless that's the look your client wants) and you focus on the way the couple want to remember their wedding day, not necessairly the way the day actually went. It never hurts to give the client a beautiful storybook ending to their special day, true photojournalism with its unaltered look probably won't impress most couples, simple candid shots are 50/50 if they add or take away from the story, but well planned images with a purpose is a great compromise for everyone.
     
  26. Marc Williams, with the help of the infamous and banned from this forum, Al Kaplan, photographed my wedding almost 5 years ago. He was a total pro, and was and hopefully still is, a great guy. Even though Marc is in Michigan and we were married in south Florida, it was not an issue for Marc.
     
  27. Now THAT'S what I call "Trashing The Dress!"
     
  28. The result is a picture that is outstanding, and the bride will adore!​
    That is if the bride likes corners sticking out of her head.
     
  29. I really don't see a difference between photo journalism and candid wedding photography. Other than one is published in a newspaper and the other is published in an album.
    To me both styles need a photographer that is capable of looking for the story in a photo and being able to express that story in such a way that just by looking at the photo you understand the moment.
    The samples posted here after the OP's question are what I'd consider great examples of either photo journalism/candid photography.
    Both 'types' of photography have their 'snapshots' too, and both types can have the subject posed/guided to create that story.
     
  30. Checkout the WPJA.
     
  31. Checkout agWPJA too.
     
  32. when I think snapshot, I think of a person who knows nothing about composition or the aspects that make a good photograph period, but your opinion may differ entirely.
     
  33. if you are a photographer you should have an idea of what pj is. you make it sound so easy-i wish it is that easy. if it is that easy then everybody can be pj right and just snap snap snap... check out denis reggie. pj is not just about taking snapshots it is capturing the perfect moment that makes the picture standout. the photo doesn't necessarily be black and white but the bw makes the photo even more dramatic...
     
  34. "It seems like most PJ photographers just take a snapshot, turn it black and white and call it PJ."
    Ouch, glad you said it not me,,,sadly you almost got it right. Really, it is capturing that perfect expression, that perfect angle of dad looking at the bride, all at the perfect time, at the perfect angle. It usually takes taking the same shot 10-20+ times in a row to get that perfect one. It looks like the perfect "snapshot" . Now days the latest "breed" of wedding photographers shoot 3-5000 images per wedding. You are bound to have a few good ones if you shoot that many. I am a little old school, do like PJ, but still pose, make sure everything is perfect before shooting some shots . Nothing like thinking you see that perfect shot, afterwards the bride's hair or veil is stuck in her mouth, flower looks like it is sticking in her nose, some dumb cousin is holding a peace sign behind someone's head. I guess after shooting zillions of shots on film, it is hard not to be a little old school, do like my digital, does not comapre to my Hasselblad,,,
     
  35. As someone else mentioned, I often use a longer lens to capture those 'moments', which are regarded as being more photojournalistic, but I think the term refers to an overall style as opposed to single photographs. I've been shooting weddings for 7 years and I say that I am "a photojournalistic photographer, without forsaking the important posed shots". In my opinion, straight photojournalism is cool but in the long run the importance of the posed shots will become apparent - though even the posed ones don't have to be so premeditated. While I'm doing some of the usual 'posed' shots, I'm always on the lookout for candid moments - which usually happen the moment i've taken the posed shot. What I like about the overall PJ style is that it tells the story of the day, with one picture informing both the previous shot as well and the next shot - it's more real than straight 'traditional' pix.
    00StNM-119887584.jpg
     
  36. Inherent in the term 'snapshot' is an implication of thoughtless, trigger-happy (shutter-happy?) snapping with little or no regard to the story. That is what is likely to raise the hackles of those who use the PJ style. There is a world of difference between a posed shot and a captured moment, or indeed a snapshot and a carefully captured candid.
    <p>To use a loose analogy, a formally posed shot is like leading a horse to the water and showing it how to drink. The WPJ shot is observing the horse, anticipating that it will get thirsty and positioning oneself to capture it's drinking. Both require different skill-sets. Both often follow the rules and principles of composition, but the outcome is very different. WPJ is not for everyone and unfortunately those who try the style and fail make it look like a collection of careless snapshots, whereas true WPJ is a mastery of technique and equipment coupled with an eye for on-the-fly composition and perfect timing...
     
  37. Bard said it best ::::: "In my opinion, straight photojournalism is cool but in the long run the importance of the posed shots will become apparent"
     
  38. A couple of days ago I wrote a short piece describing just how my mind was working, what I was seeing, what I was thinking and how I attempted to capture something more than snapshots during one minute.
    It's here;
    georgeweir.typepad.com/george_weir_photographer/2010/05/in-a-minute.html
    best
    George
     

Share This Page