Why You Should Hire A Wedding Photojournalist
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Photojournalists are story-telling photographers at our core. Working for news organizations like newspapers, wire services or magazines, a photojournalist’s job is to document history and truth through our lens.
While some wedding photographers have experienced the marketing benefit of labeling themselves as a “photojournalist”, there is a major difference between taking candid photos and studying the art of a documentary style. It’s not only about capturing a candid- it’s about capturing enough context to let the viewer in on the moment, and then invoking emotion so that they feel pulled in and connected to the memory, too. It’s crucial that your wedding photographer is trained and experienced in capturing all of your day’s moments - big and small.
While I may be young in my photojournalism career compared to those who have been working for 25+ years, I have been published by several magazines and online publications in the last seven years, and continue to keep my spectrum of work wide- working with advertising agencies, lifestyle brands, and world-wide recognized companies. Read more about my personal creative background in this blog: https://www.gillianrea.com/post/introducinggillianrea. I care so deeply about accurately achieving my client’s visions; My bride’s visions are no different!
A wedding photojournalist will focus on documenting your day through moment-driven photographs that tell the entire story of the day themselves. Helping coordinate people and offering scenarios to pose to is absolutely necessary for some parts of the day, but odds are you won’t be absolutelylosing your mind over any overly-staged photos...And isn’t that kinda the goal? To have some undoubtedly perfect, pure, and precious memories frozen in time?
First we have to answer the question: What is a real “Wedding Photojournalist''?
Photojournalists Are Documentary Storytellers That Can Anticipate A Moment Before It Happens
My goal is simple - capture the complete story of your wedding day. THIS day will only happen once, and you’ll want to make sure you can look back and remember everything you A. Forgot, and B. Missed because you were having so much dang fun!
One of the first rules I learned as a photojournalist was to arrive early, and be the last to leave! The other “rule” is something I learned on my jobs with my Sports photographer hat on (and it’s not something that can be taught): Know what’s going to happen before it happens. I think it’s a gift only mom’s and photojournalists have...Truly, this skill is about seeing the climax of shot before it happens, and also grabbing the most “flattering” moment of a spin, dip, dance move, jump, fist bump, or even a mother in law reaching to blot her tear on her cheek.
The other point to being an observant wedding photojournalist is seeing BEYOND the obvious “wedding” shot. I love to work with clients leading up to their wedding and talking through specific moments and angles of the day, and much of that conversation revolves around a Pinterest board they create with inspiration photos for me. With that being said- I’m guessing you don’t want your albums to look like every other wedding you’ve ever seen- you want it to be as unique as your day.
As a wedding photojournalist, that means I’ll arrive when you start getting ready and stay throughout the dance party...You best bet your bottom dollar I’ll be out on that dance floor with you, too! Being there all day is such a part of my philosophy that all of my collections include a minimum 10 hours of coverage. I can only shoot one wedding a day so I don’t understand the concept of charging based on an hourly rate.
We Create Rapport With Everyone We Meet
I learned very early on that getting access is the most important aspect to creating those really special photos. No matter how great your gear or lighting is, if the people in the room don’t feel comfortable with you or aren’t having a good time, then the photos aren’t going to turn out. As a photojournalist, I’ve had to photograph complete strangers and interview them with zero context as to who they were. It’s a tough skill to develop, but creating that rapport on your wedding day is more than just being friendly and making small talk with the bride and groom. It’s also my job to create a relationship with each of the vendors and staff, family members, guests, and all of the bridal party.
The process of building trust doesn’t happen the morning-of; It begins long before the wedding day. I start consistent communication with my couples from about five months out from their wedding dates, and work to maintain as a valuable resource during all of their planning. While I’ve never marketed myself as a “wedding planner,” I do love to work with my couples and their wedding planners to sculpt their day and schedule! By the day of the wedding, my face should be as family to them as family.
My goal is to become part of your group for the day. As everyone feels comfortable with my presence, moments will naturally unfold and I’ll be there to capture it all.
“She is incredibly hard working, passionate about what she does, and gifted at making every person she works with feel so comfortable in their own skin...What I loved the most was her ability to capture such beautiful candid moments…”
Photojournalists Are Expert Problem Solvers
In the past seven years, I’ve photographed a countless number of difficult photoshoots. From sporting events, to staged studio media days, to 3 hour wedding days with no time for photos to 12 hour wedding days. I’ve experienced everything in the moment from unpredictable lighting, super fast moving subjects, harsh lighting and dark shadows...don’t even get me started on family photos with the young kiddos! Each event presents itself as a new, unique challenge that I have to decide how to solve in a split second. When on the job, I couldn’t bring back a lacking image- I had no other option but to get the shot. It’s our job to adapt to any situation.
You can relax and enjoy your day knowing that we can solve the challenges that any venue or location throws at us, even if we haven’t shot there before.
“I hired Gillian to second shoot a wedding for me...wow, this girl is a pro...The sun was setting and I remember feeling overwhelmed trying to direct the family formals. Gillian was there, swapped cameras with me so the settings would be perfect, and helped me direct the rest... Hire. Her.”
Our Focus Is On The People, Not Just The Things
I often have couples tell me they enjoyed my work because it featured moments of people showing their true emotions, as opposed to a portfolio of jewelry and perfectly arranged invitation suites. Of course, those details are part of your story and will be captured with equal care as well! But these kinds of things are details that my couples and I discuss early on in our wedding day preparation: what are YOUR priorities as a bride and groom.
It’s my goal to document the spectrum of emotions on your wedding day – all of the laughter, the joy and even the tears. At the end of the day, I think that a photo of your closest friend's reaction to seeing you in your gown for the first time will be cherished more than a photo of the dress hanging on the wall- or at least it would be missed if it wasn’t captured.
We Rely On Good Technique, Not Cookie-Cutter Presets
In the age of Instagram filters and Etsy presets, we believe that images should represent accuracy for history’s sake. News outlets and publications strictly strive to present an accurate reality to its readers. As a photojournalist on assignment, we’re bound by ethical standards and can’t manipulate images beyond cropping and limited toning.
While weddings allow me to have more creative freedom with the images that I deliver, I still hold myself to certain ethical editing standards (Blog soon to come!). I don’t use any presets- even ones that I could create myself. I treat and edit each photograph as its own piece. I also work with my clients to decide on an editing style before the wedding day, so that all party’s expectations are matching. This explains why, while everyone’s full galleries look cohesive, my portfolio styles are not one-style-fits-all. When you choose me, you get full control and customization capability of your images.
“I rarely like seeing myself in photos, but I was so excited when I got her photos back! She made the whole experience so enjoyable...I highly recommend booking with Gillian...”
As An Advertising Professional, I Know How To Achieve My Client’s Vision
Although my main focus is weddings these days, I still regularly shoot sports, lifestyle and product shots, family portraits and creative fashion portraits, in addition to problem solving for advertising and graphic design clients. I practice skills in my degree, (Advertising and Public Relations with an Emphasis in Graphic Design and a minor in Communications) every day in my photography- and it has nothing to do with pressing the buttons on my gear, and everything to do with capturing the day the way you want it. I ask my clients questions like “How do you want to feel on your wedding day?” and that in itself tells me so much about how you actually want to be seen and photographed.
My clients trust me to put aside my creative visions and agendas (unless asked for them!) and to find what makes your relationship tick. While other photographers might use your wedding day as a “styled shoot” to advance their own portfolio and prioritize the shots they want, I’m truly there to tell your unique story in the most beautiful way.
Let's Stay Connected
Now that you've learned a little bit more about my photography style, let's be friends! I'd love to learn about you, too. Come say hi on whichever of these platforms you use most:
If you're interested in booking a wedding or viewing more full galleries, shoot me an email at Gillian.E.Rea@gmail.com
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