Reportage wedding photography is about capturing your wedding day, in an authentic way, without asking you to pose. Our job as photographers is observation, not orchestration. A good reportage wedding photographer will never ask you to move out of the way, smile at the camera, ask any of your guests to move, ask you to stop what you’re doing and pose for a photo. None of that. It’s all about capturing what happens, as it happens, naturally, without intrusion on your wedding day. To do this well requires a lot of skill and experience. Because we have to be constantly on our toes, always watching for when moments develop.
We don’t work from a distance with long lenses. Completely the opposite. Your far more likely to see me working close up with a 16-35mm lens. The best way to blend into a wedding day and not be noticed is by being close to the action. I like to equate it to being a good wine waiter in a top restaurant. Your wine glass will never be empty, they will keep topping it up for you. But you will not even notice them doing it. Because they do it without intrusion and time their movements perfectly. Then they fill the glass with confidence, moving back out of view before you even notice them.
Do you shoot family groups shots?
There are very few purist reportage wedding photographers. Even the purist of them will still shoot some group photos if asked. Most of us in the reportage wedding photographers genre shoot some family group photos if couples ask for them. The main thing for us is that we don’t labour over them. Hopefully group shots take up less than 30 minutes of your wedding day. It’s one of the few times during the day where we are actually asking people to smile at the camera. So the quicker they are done, the quicker we can return to taking the natural photos that really matter.
The same goes for shooting some couple portraits. It’s always nice to capture some shots of the two of you together. We won’t drag you off for hours away from your guests though. We don’t see the need and that’s not what most of our couples want. But it’s always your choice, your wedding day.
If you wanted some special portraits in a particular location (a beach, a local forest or beauty spot for example) then of course we can accommodate that. When Carol and I got married, our own photographers covered the day in a totally reportage style. But when it came to the portraits, we asked them if they’d take us somewhere to capture us walking in the classic landscape of Tuscany. Not a problem, but we had to drive for 40 minutes to get to a good classic road, that would make good photos. That was fine, we planned that into our day. Luckily we had a very small wedding and we were happy to leave our guests with each other while we were away. But this is a classic example that if you wanted to do this on your own wedding day, it’s always your choice. Not the photographers. We would never dictate what our couples should do, that’s not what we are there for.
Documentary Wedding Photography
Reportage wedding photography is exactly the same thing as Wedding Photojournalism and Documentary Wedding Photography. The terms are interchangeable. As above the only thing that sometimes changes is how purist the photographer might be. We’d personally advise being wary of anyone that calls themselves a reportage wedding photographer and the only images on their website are all clearly posed. There are no posed images on our website – except a few couple portraits. Everything else you see is pure reportage, pure documentary photography, pure photojournalism.
Do we shoot photos like the wedding dress hanging up? If it’s hanging up somewhere, then of course we’ll shoot it. Some dresses look better when worn though, rather than on a hanger. Our advice would always be to try and hang your dress up somewhere in the room where you are getting ready in the morning – if possible. That way, we can not only shoot a few still life pics of it, but also try and incorporate the dress into the background of your makeup shots. Which ties the story together beautifully. If you’ve got great shoes, we want to capture a photo of them. But they might look even better on your feet, rather than in a still life.
Paul Tansley is an experienced reportage wedding photographer who works closely with his wife Carol. Proud members of This is Reportage group. Capturing natural wedding photography without posing or orchestrating peoples wedding day.