Wedding Photojournalism: The Integrity of the Moment

About Wedding Photojournalism, Blog Article

The Wedding Photojournalism Approach

As a wedding photojournalist I often talk about ensuring the integrity of the moment, but what do I actually mean by this?  What is the integrity of the moment?  For me, it’s the very thing that sets aside a wedding photojournalism approach from that of a more traditional wedding photography approach.  In essence, it’s the very reason you should be looking to book me as a wedding photojournalist.  But let me explain it in more detail.

The Decisive Moment

The decisive moment by Henri Cartier Bresson

Plate 1: Cartier-Bresson’s famous defining “decisive moment” photograph. Taken at Gare Saint Lazare railway station in 1932.

I’ve discussed what wedding photojournalism is elsewhere so don’t intend to go over that again, but you can follow the link if you’d like to start there first.  When talking about the integrity of the moment it might be helpful to start with another important philosophy of photojournalism and that is the decisive moment, a phrase first coined by the late, great French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson. He considered the decisive moment was that split second, that fleeting moment when everything came together to create one magical moment within the frame of the photograph. To quote the great man himself:

“To take photographs is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in the fleeting face of reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy…it is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis.”

For me, that last part of putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis is the most perfect and most beautifully poetic description of photography ever made.  It’s what makes the difference between the eye of a talented wedding photojournalist and just anyone clicking away with a camera without much thought or appreciation for the craft.

Anyhow, back to the decisive moment, it can be the moment a couple embrace for the first time; it can be an expression that passes between two people in the fraction of a second or, in Cartier-Bresson’s most famous image that came to define the decisive moment itself, it is the instance a man leapt across a puddle behind a station in pre-war Paris (see Plate 1 above).

The Truth & Honesty of Wedding Photojournalism

Le Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville photograph of a couple kissing in Paris

Plate 2: This famous photo by Robert Doisneau, of a couple kissing in Paris, is sometimes questioned as to whether it is a genuine decisive moment.

Sometimes though, photographers will attempt to fake a decisive moment. In other words, they try and stage or pose a decisive moment.  After all, there’s a famous photograph by another French photographer, Robert Doisneau, of a couple kissing amongst the crowds of Parisian promenade (see Plate 2 above).  Some have suggested this isn’t a true decisive moment as it was “set up” and staged by Doisneau himself.  This is debatable, but it is an argument that has raged on for years – but if nothing else, it demonstrates how precious some photographers can be about true decisive moments.

So, for me at least, this is where the integrity of the moment comes in.  If the decisive moment can be faked, or at least have the whiff of suspicion about it, then it’s important to strive for the integrity of the moment – ensuring it is truthful, honest and naturally occurring. Of course, you may be wondering what’s wrong with faking or staging key moments of your wedding photography?  In truth, there’s nothing wrong with this more traditional wedding photography approach if that’s what you want.  After all, different people want different things – that’s the beauty of having choice. But it’s important to be educated about the choices you do have.

3 Reasons for Ensuring the Integrity of the Moment

Meon Valley Marriott Hotel wedding photography of the Groom's parents laughing during the wedding speeches

So when it comes to deciding on you wedding photography and whether to opt for a wedding photojournalism approach, like mine, or not, let me give you 3 good reasons why ensuring the integrity of the moment is infinitely much better than staging it with a traditional wedding photography approach.

  1. Firstly, it’s what really happened.  It’s a genuine part of YOUR wedding story. When you look back at your wedding photos, whether it be 5, 10 or even 50 years in the future, do you want to be looking at genuine moments that occurred naturally on your wedding day or do you want to be looking at something that you’ll just simply remember as the wedding photographer creating for you? Wedding photojournalism or, at the very least, my personal and puristic approach to it ensures you get a real wedding story that is about you and your wedding day rather than my rather fake interpretation of what it should be like.
  2. People just look better when things are happening naturally. They look happier, look more relaxed and look more genuine. An experienced or talented wedding photojournalist, such as myself, will work in an unobtrusive way which means people will forget or won’t even realise I am there.  That doesn’t just happen, it comes from years of photojournalistic experience as well as, in my case, years of shooting candid street photography. Getting in, getting the shot and remaining invisible is a real skill and part of the reason you want a wedding photojournalism approach to you wedding story.  If there is a common thing a lot of wedding couples say to me when they get the images from their wedding day is they simply don’t remember me being there to get the photos. Which leads me on nicely, to the third reason…
  3. Which is, you and your wedding guests ultimately remember the wedding photography and not necessarily the wedding photographer.  When the photographer is setting up faked and staged moments they become a director, having to step into the centre of things and, in the worst case scenario, become bossy and ordering people about.  With a wedding photojournalism approach to ensuring the integrity of the moment I work discretely, unobtrusively and quickly in getting those real moments that tell the real story of your wedding.  That doesn’t mean I don’t get in amongst things, I most definitely do (but maybe that’s a blog post for another day!) but I do that thoughtfully, sensitively and discretely.

So hopefully now you understand a little more about why I will constantly talk about ensuring the integrity of the moment in terms of your wedding photography.  It really is central to all that I do and is the driving force of my philosophy towards wedding photojournalism.

Want a Wedding Photojournalism Approach to Your Wedding Photography?

Rowton Castle wedding photography of first kiss

So if you are getting married and feel a natural, candid and unobtrusive wedding photojournalism approach is exactly how you want your real wedding story being documented then I’d be delighted to talk about your wedding plans in more detail.  You can call me now on 07920 422144 or simply send me an email via my contact page here and I’ll get straight back to you.  For my current prices and packages please go here.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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