When photojournalism joined wedding photography in the 90’s I was quite excited. That was how I was already shooting. I loved how REAL the photos were. I loved the originality. Black and white photos were FINALLY gaining momentum! (I had been hired at multiple weddings to shoot the black and whites because their photographer refused to do it.) I don’t know why photographers started moving away from something as beautiful as wedding photojournalism. Sure, WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association) is still in full swing, but most of the photographers on their site are incredibly expensive (starting at $10,000).
Over the past few years, wedding photography has lost authenticity. Uncle Bob is buying a camera at COSTCO and using Pinterest as his schooling, creating cookie-cutter images that will be posted to Pinterest and give birth to more cookie-cutter images. Trends like cutting the bridal parties’ heads off are sweeping the nation. Digital photographers are Photoshopping images to death. More and more, wedding photography has become less about the photography and more about what I call “smoke and mirrors.”
Smoke and Mirrors (adj.) 1. Multiple Photoshop actions to add sun flare where there was no sun flare. 2. Being an ARTIEST and insisting on creating crazy images that don’t reflect the personality of the couple or the wedding day. 3. Placing people in mirrors or reflections where they weren’t actually visible (Also see: “The Vampire Affect”).
Before you all start sending me hate mail, let me say that this blog isn’t all “Film is awesome and digital is stupid.” I know MANY digital photographers who I greatly admire, such as Susan Stripling and Sal Cincotta.
Stripling does everything in-camera (including multiple exposure) and has an editing house fine-tune her photos. She’s a genius with lighting and detail shots as well as photojournalistic photography. She is incredibly talented with capturing moments. See her work here: www.susanstripling.com
Cincotta chooses a few portraits from an engagement or wedding session and applies his “signature edits,” which are very Photoshopped, and not necessarily MY style, but they’re done VERY well and I usually really like them. Plus, he only chooses maybe three images, not the entire wedding. I have a ton of respect for him because even though he does edit images to turn them into something they’re not, he doesn’t copy anyone else’s style. He doesn’t take Pinterest boards from brides. Everything he does is based on his own creative mind. See his work here: www.salcincotta.com
That having been said, the more I see how authenticity is being sucked out of main-stream wedding photography, the happier I am that I stuck with shooting film. Even though I’ve been insulted (read about one instance HERE), I’ve stayed true to myself. Now that film is starting to trend in a big way on the East Coast and starting to crawl across the country (just as wedding photojournalism did), I’m VERY happy that brides are seeking me out because they WANT a film shooter. They want authenticity! More importantly, it sets my work apart and keeps our skills sharp.
The photo above is my favorite that Mark has ever taken. Leah is in the vintage Ford just moments before her ceremony. I was shooting into the back seat through an open door. Her smile is 100% genuine – we didn’t say, “Ok now look at your dad and smile.” Mark chose to shoot through the glass, through the reflection of the tree, creating a double exposure effect. Could we have created the same image by taking two separate photos and sandwiching them together in Photoshop? Sure. But we don’t manipulate images. Our goal as film shooters is to do everything in camera. When I want to shoot an actual double exposure, I will use one of my manual film cameras and do it in camera to ensure it is authentic.
Double exposure has recently become very popular in the photography world. Hop online and Google it. You will see trees in the shape of human silhouettes, faces sandwiched on top of city skylines, and some crazy stuff that I don’t even understand. So far, the only ones I’ve liked are the ones Susan Stripling takes. I thought she did them in Photoshop until I did her three-day CreativeLIVE webinar and she explained that she does it in camera. IN CAMERA! I just love that Susan. She’s awesome. If you’re a photographer, I highly recommend you get on CreativeLIVE and buy her webinar.
The topic of authenticity and originality has been somewhat ongoing on my blog because I’m so passionate about photojournalism as an art form. You can read my previous posts on this subject here:
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