Wedding Photojournalism…And Why I Love It!

Let me start with a picture. You know what’s going on, right? Well, strange though this may seem but about five or six years ago, I wouldn’t have taken this shot! Why? Well, because I would have been so focused on the bride & her father walking down the aisle that I wouldn’t have even been looking at anything else. Experience though has taught me to look at the bigger picture…the guys leaning out into the aisle tell you all you need to know in a more interesting way…oh, and I still got the bride & father shots too LOL.

This, in a nutshell is wedding photojournalism, and it’s pretty much how I shoot most of the wedding day and, having just been recognised as one of the Top 3 Wedding Photojournalists in Scotland by the WPJA, I thought I’d write a little piece for the blog to give you a wee insight into how it all works…and throw in some pictures to boot :-).

If I’m being totally honest, I never started out shooting weddings this way. No sir, I followed the tried and tested method of lots of overly posed bride & groom shots, and a list of family and friends group shots as long as your arm. But then a strange thing kept happening…hearing back from couples after their wedding…their favourite shots weren’t the ones I’d spent ages meticulously planning and setting up elaborate lighting effects! No, their favourite shots were the little candid moments… a look between father and daughter, some crazy dancing perhaps…the kind of shots that I almost didn’t even sometimes put in the gallery as I thought they weren’t technically perfect! So the penny dropped and I realised that these are the shots that couples cherish most, real moments, not fabricated ones.

Before I go on, I should mention that I am not totally 100% photojournalistic (just about 90% LOL), as I do make time for a small number of family shots and also a bride & groom “couple shoot”, but even the way I shoot these allows for little moments to happen that are unscripted, meaning yes, they are natural moments and not forced in any way. Take the shot above for example of the bride with her gran – sure, there was a shot beforehand where they were both looking at the camera, but look what happened just after…this is why I keep the camera rolling, as they say!

Aren’t these just snapshots that anyone could take?

So I once had a mother of the bride (who to be fair probably didn’t appreciate the way I work) ask me this very question and yes, I guess that anyone with a camera could take these type of shots in a one-off situation. But I’m doing it all day long for about 10 hours in all conditions – wind, rain, dark churches, crowded reception rooms etc etc, and I need to keep on the ball at all times – it really is a “blink and you miss it” scenario with this type of photography, and I’ll be the first to admit I sometimes miss a few (that’s only natural), but I’m always on the lookout for shots, and not always the obvious ones, that tell a story and hold interest – that’s why you’re unlikely to ever see me taking a shot of a guest doing absolutely nothing…unless it’s like one below 🙂 – it’s the wee guy in the background that makes this work!

And then there’s also the usual photography “rules” to assess – exposure, shutter speed, composition, lighting etc…do I get in close or stay back, wide lens or telephoto…all these things play a big part in the final shot and, for me, one of the biggest is anticipation – looking at what’s around and often, using experience to second guess what might be about to happen…and be ready for it. Sure, like night follows day, some parts of a wedding day you know what’s coming – exchange of rings, first kiss, first dance and so on…but it’s those other moments, just having that “sixth sense” and, on occasion, a wee bit of luck :-).

This is one of my favourite shots, you may have seen it before on my site, and it’s all of the things I mentioned above. The “sixth sense” came from being aware of the situation (two guests running down a slope at the venue – something was always likely to happen) and having my camera primed with the right settings and then the luck came with the timing (a half second before or after and the impact wouldn’t have been the same) – the guys love this shot by the way :-).

But what about the bride & groom shots?

So yeah, I do these too, although I find that most couples that book with me are not really into long overly styled couple shoots that take you away from your guests for ages. My preference is to take you away for a couple of short shoots (one before and one after dinner for about 15 mins each), put you where the location and lighting are going to make you look fabulous, and then go with the flow…you do what you like and I’ll keep shooting, and I’ll still be shooting even when you think I’ve finished shooting, as they’re often the best shots right? And absolutely will I never ask you to look at the camera and say “cheese”.

Whatever I shoot on the day, I’ll always try and put an artistic spin on things – often I might shoot through something like bushes, use a prism, throw in some lights, sometimes I might not even include all of a person in the shot (often a suggestion is all you need to tell the story – there really are a lot of different ways to shoot a scene, and I’ll be the first to admit, that even after ten years, I’m still learning new stuff and always stive to make the next wedding better than the last. Here’s a few of my favourite “arty” shots …

So what are the benefits?

First up, I’d say of course that the way I shoot is just a personal preference, and there will be couples who prefer the more “stlylised” way of shooting a wedding but, for me, the way I do it definitely allows you to spend a lot more time with your guests and not worry at all about your photography, as I’ll photograph the whole day, no matter how the whole day pans out. If you’re running late, it doesn’t matter – I’ll photograph that “lateness” (trust me, you’ll laugh about it later) and, as we have no big “shot list” to try and get through, there’s no panic about not getting everything done.

I guess my style also suits couples who don’t much like having their picture taken (not beknowing anyway LOL), and it’ll certainly allow you to just enjoy the party :-).

In addition, as I work very much in the background (and on my own) for most of the day, you won’t have anyone shouting orders at you or bossing you around. In fact, my hope is that you don’t notice me at all – I have been called a “photo ninja” on more than one occasion and that suits me. In fact, I guess this review that I received in recently from Lee-Anne & Alastair pretty much sums things up…

“I don’t think there are words to describe how amazing this man is. He’s an absolute wizard with the camera. Mike has an eye for capturing the moments so naturally and beautifully creating memories and images you would of completely missed yourself. There should only be one photographer you should consider for your day and it should be this gent of a man. You hardly notice him in your space and around you through out the day, his work is so seamless and he has you completely at ease. Thank you for everything”

Thank you guys, you’re too kind :-).

Want to see more?

There’s only a few shots on this post but, if you want to see more, why not head on over to my portfolio for some of my own favourite shots over the years. Better still, check out the blog posts on this site – I have hundreds of weddings blogged now and each and every one will have in excess of a hundred shots from that day – a great way of seeing what I do across a whole wedding day. For a wider view, and to see lots of other fabulous wedding photojournalists, why not check out the site of the Wedding Photojournalists Association (WPJA), of which I’m very proud to have been accepted as a member recently :-).

I do hope this post has given you a wee bit of an insight into how and why I do what I do but, as always, I welcome any feedback and comments and you can add these at the bottom of the page.


Looking for some “Ninja Style” Wedding Photography?

If you’re on the look-out for a wedding photographer (or know someone who is), then you may just like my “ninja style” low key approach to the day!

I’m mainly taking bookings now for 2021…but I do have a limited number of 2020 dates still available too.

Full day coverage collections start at £1500…but don’t forget my cheeky wee discount where you can save up to £500 :-).

Mike :-).


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