Fine Art or Photojournalism: Which is the best wedding style for you?

Today I want to talk about styles of wedding photography. One the most asked questions I get from couples during their consultation, right after “Are you free?” and “How much do you cost?” is “How would you describe your style of photography?” 

But before I give you my answer, let us go over some definitions. I find it extremely helpful to hit the books on this one so that we have a very clear definition of what each of these things are. According to Merriam-Webster,

photojournalism is: the job or activity of using photographs to report news stories in magazines or newspapers. 

Now clearly, you aren’t having a reporter at your wedding and having those images sent off to the Sunday Times for publication (or maybe you are), but you get the point. We’re not going to see your wedding on the evening news. We can however take the strongest points of that definition and translate it to wedding photography. To me, this simply means, using photographs to tell a story. This is exactly what a photographer with this type of style is going to do at your wedding. They are going to capture images that are a visual retelling of what took place that day. Crying your eyes out at the alter? A photojournalist will document that. Got a little too much frosting up your nose during the cake cutting? A photojournalist will document that. Sharing a quiet moment with your new spouse away from the hustle and bustle of your reception? Your photographer has been keenly watching you and yes, a photojournalist will document that. 

toasts at Maine wedding

With the exception of your family photos this type of photographer is going to take a very hands off approach to your wedding. They aren’t going to be directing how they want you to stand, they aren’t going to ask you to pose and they certainly are not going to have you look into the camera and say “cheese!” (lord help us!) They also might not be as concerned with taking photos of certain details like your dress or shoes or other things, because again, a photojournalist doesn’t stage props. Now, if those things just happen to be hanging up or sitting on the bed, then sure, they will be at the ready with camera in hand. So for all you Pinterest loving couples out there, this is something to keep in mind when you are seeing all those dreamy images of other peoples weddings (this is a topic for later as well). Your photojournalist photographer might not be very receptive to you handing them a Pinterest board of cute poses and dreamy details. If this is something that you want, a photojournalist might not be the best fit for you. 

Let’s move on to the next definition.

Again, using our trusty dictionary resource, MW defines fine art: 1. a type of art (such as painting, sculpture, or music) that is done to create beautiful things. 2. an activity that requires skill and care.

The most important word in that definition is create. And this is the biggest difference between a fine art photographer and a photojournalist. Whereas the photojournalist is going to document for the purposes of retelling, the fine artist is going to do the telling for you. They have an a vision for a photo, they are going to be very hands on in their work to create the look and story that they want to tell. They can achieve this with the actual taking of the photo, maybe using different angles to capture their subject, something that isn’t so straight on or direct. Or, and often times, they achieve their final look in the post processing of the photo. The image is edited to look a certain way. All of these things do require great skill and a keen eye so it is very common for fine art photographers to have a degree in their field of work. It’s not required, but don’t be surprised if your fine art photographer comes with a few extra credentials. 

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bride with flower crown


So which one am I?

I am going to say fairly bluntly that in this day and age of the wedding industry, I do not believe you can just be one of the above. Weddings are waaaaaay too complex to just see things through one lens. I’ve seen photojournalists pose shoes and dresses (even if they don’t like to do it) because guess what? It’s what the client wants. And you cannot go through an entire wedding with only your vision in mind because, again, you are shooting for a paying client!! I am pretty sure they have a say in how they want their wedding to look. 

With that said, I tell my clients that while my background and my eye tends to lean more toward photojournalism, I am a healthy mix of both. I believe that if you look really closely at all the photographers you are doing research on, you are going to find that the majority of photographers today are doing just that. They are blending a little bit of the two into something that more acurately reflects the personalities and desires of the modern wedding client. 

In the end you have to find the photographer that meshes with your personality. I tell couples that my style is “as relaxed and casual as my clients are…no awkward posing, no forcing you to do anything you are uncomfortable with. My images are simply you.” If this is something that is appealing to you, then contact me today! I hope you found this information helpful in your search for the photographer that is going to best express the emotion of your day. 

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where am i?

Anne is based in Houston, Texas and spends summers in her home state of Maine.

She is available for weddings and portraits there and beyond.