6 Image types help create a point of view as a storytelling photographer.

In a saturated market of wedding photographers, there are very few who stand out. Most are competing on price, and image quality is underwhelming at best. The images often say nothing. There are inevitably going to be some lucky snaps and some moments, and an armful of images that look like copies of popular wedding blogs, but there's a severe lack of a storytelling perspective or a consistency in the style of pictures.

"Too many photographers trying to be too many things to too many people."

Six things that help create a genuine point of view:

  1. Gesture + Hands: Hands are very telling, the way they hold another person, the way people speak with them, how someone rests them in a portrait, include them. Hands are a uniquely human element that gets right down to the basics of who we are as people.

  2. Natural Action (as it's happening): Hugs at the peak of the squeeze, real kisses, but not quite at the point of mushed faces, genuine smiles, captured in great light, interactions between guests when they don't realize you're photographing. 

  3. Real Hugs: Mostly with guests that they know and love deeply. Think family, grandparents, brothers, etc. Look for these opportunities and get them. 

  4. Unposed Poses: Too many photographers use the same stale poses to photograph everyone because it's replicable when they go shoot the next wedding, and hey...good enough is good enough...right?...NOPE. As an engaged couple, when you see stale poses where the B&G look awkward and uncomfortable, look elsewhere for a photographer. As a photographer, give gentle direction, and shoot as things unfold. This does two things. It keeps your subjects moving and interacting so expression doesn't just die, and they drop their guard after the first 15 minutes and you can photograph as you give action directions and roll from there..."give her a kiss, BIG hug." Move around your subjects, look at the expressions...PRACTICE. 

  5. Setting Shots: Not a bunch of those lame detail shots of empty venues, real people in real places...learn to shoot it well, pay attention to the lighting and mood of the setting. If you can strive to capture the mood, you're headed in the right direction. Anyone can simply take a picture of a room - don't be that guy.

  6. Imperfect Details: Great example above with the cake on the plate in the gesturing hands. It has a bite taken out of it. This is an example of a person interacting with the details that were planned for the event. That's what it's about. That creates a POV. 

Nate Kinnison is a documentary wedding photographer + wedding photojournalist based in Norfolk, VA. Follow him at www.facebook.com/natekinnisonphotography

Creative Professional vs. creative person who behaves professionally.

Great, older article from the Wedding Photojournalist Association about hiring a creative professional for your wedding. Let's make a clear distinction: Hiring someone who IS creative and BEHAVES professionally is not the same thing as hiring a "professional creator." Many couples have never had the need to hire a designer, or an architect, or a commercial photographer, etc. and the first creative professional they encounter is their wedding photographer.

What's the difference? A creative professional in wedding photography has a point of view, a perspective, a narrative that develops based on the events that unfold during your wedding day. I've seen a lot of shot list shots, handed to me by well-meaning folks, and the collection of images that would result is quite hefty, but is it a narrative? A story? Does it engage the viewer from an intellectual or emotional point of view? Are your grand-kids going to look back and "feel the love," so to speak, in the expressions and interactions?

One of my favorite images of all time is below, of a traditional Filipino wedding with rich symbolism of family and extended family where the sponsors place their hands on the bride and groom...  Not posed, not asked for, but I saw the moment as it happened and here it is. It tells a story.

Every wedding is an opportunity to develop a narrative, to create imagery that reflects the bonds of family and friends and each other. Hire the creative professional to tell the story. You won't be disappointed. 

Nate Kinnison is a documentary wedding photographer based in Norfolk, VA.