How Important are Wedding Photographs?

Choosing the Right Style of Wedding Photography

There's a reason a wedding day is referred to as The Big Day. "The" big day. Brides, grooms and their families expect it to be a one-time celebration, full of memories.

So the photography had better be spot on. The photographer(s) had better be good – no, out-of-this-universe sensational.

Hiring A Wedding Photographer

The most common question couples ask themselves, for better or worse, seems to be: What’s it going to cost us to hire a photographer?

That question does not align itself with expectations of finding an out-of-this-universe, sensational photographer. A better question – or series of questions – would be:

  • How important is it to have the Big Day preserved for the rest of our lives?
  • How much can we invest in the one thing that will never let us forget the biggest kiss of our lives?
  • How good a photographer can we hire?
  • After all, what happens to the rest of the day? Flowers wilt. Cake and champagne disappears. The groom’s tuxedo will go back to the shop. The bride’s veil likely won’t blend with the dress code at the office. But photographs...

Traditional Portraiture vs. Photojournalism

Traditional wedding portraiture needs little explanation. Numerous combinations of family, friends, and wedding party members take turns standing with the bride and groom. Portraits are made, recording for posterity the faces of who appeared at the wedding. The downside is: Will anything else have been recorded?

After 25 or 50 years will anyone vividly remember the details and moments of that day?

How will the grandkids understand the pre-wedding nerves, the ceremony, the toasts, the couple’s first dance?

Enter: photojournalism.

Think of the wedding day being photographed like it would be laid out in a magazine story – only better: It’s yours, your moments…all day long. From preparations to last dance. Photojournalism is a style that captures life as it unfolds. It leaves no guesswork later as to what happened on that biggest of days. A photograph of 93-year-old Grandma strutting on the dance floor is a moment not to be missed – and if photographed by a wedding photojournalist, odds are it won’t be.

What to Know About Wedding Photojournalism

The Wedding Photojournalist Association explains that wedding photojournalism "is characterized by its candid, creative and natural results spanning serious to humorous scenes. While traditional wedding photography dictates the setting, a wedding photojournalist documents the moment as it naturally happens."

In recent years, photojournalism as a wedding photography style has swelled in popularity. And, so have the number of “photojournalists.” For many, photojournalism is a buzzword for gaining business, as if latching on to a marketing fad.

Those photographers likely have strengths to offer; maybe they are great at fashion (posing the bride and groom) or product shots (cake and flowers). But do they provide enough of the skills desired by the couple looking to hire a photojournalist?

Maybe. Maybe not.

At least not compared against others whose skills are built on years of newspaper and magazine photography. Those wedding photojournalists know how to wait for the moments that are truly significant and how to compose images and present them in a way that tells the story of the day.

The Most Important Decision in Choosing A Wedding Photographer

For every bride and groom there is a photographer with the right visual style, skills, personality, and professionalism.

The key to choosing a wedding photographer is for the bride and groom to understand what they want from their photographer. The couple needs to identify the style that will make them happy, and then find the best photographer who can make those dreams come true.

Don’t forget that wedding photography is a one-time deal. There is no taking the photographer back to the store for an exchange. When the day is done, the photos can’t be fixed.

So if having photos of that day are important, then avoid future heartache by treating the decision of who to hire as if it’s one of the most important investments of your lives. Because it is.


Adam Williams is writer and photographer based in St. Louis, MO. His website is:
This article is copyrighted by Adam Williams. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

I love shooting weddings and capturing those special, celebratory, and unforgettable moments


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