Wedding Photojournalism Facts

Wedding Photojournalism Facts and Myths

This label has been used in recent years to describe a certain style of photography and despite numerous articles on the subject, I still hear the question – what is wedding photojournalism?

This is a term that has been improperly used by some wedding photographers so it’s no surprise that many couples are confused. Most of us know what “traditional” photography means and images of studio portraits or posing for beautifully-lit photos often fill our heads.

Wedding photojournalism is different, aka lifestyle photography, because it is typically more natural. As a photographer who started her career working for newspapers before photographing weddings I feel like I have a better grasp on the term than most so here are a few of the more common facts, and myths, that I am typically explaining to people.


A shot like this one where the bride gets a final douse of hairspray before walking outside for her ceremony would not look the same if set-up or re-created.

Fact or Myth

Wedding Photojournalists don’t use lights.
While it is true that we don’t stop the action (aka moments) to set up lights, most of us use lights when shooting portraits or at the wedding reception & other dark spaces. The REAL difference is that pure photojournalism doesn’t CHANGE the light, we use light to enhance the natural light, not to overpower it.

So if you have a beach wedding in the daytime you will have photos that look that way and we may use lights to fill in the shadows that frequently appear around the eyes or under chins. What you probably won’t have are dark & moody portraits (aka NOT reality). There are a few wedding photojournalists who don’t use any light at all, and others who like to mix in a few dramatically lit portraits, but most of us use a little where it can help or if a couple wants it.


Lighting in a dark space like the wine cellar at the Williamsburg Winery or at night is typically necessary and done well, those photos will look better but still how you remember it.

Wedding Photojournalists (or candid photographers) don’t pose pictures.
Fact (mostly).
Our focus is on storytelling photos so we want to capture you being yourself instead of posing for the camera. We want to capture everyone in the moment laughing, crying, or sticking out their tongues because when everyone is having fun and living in the moment we know the great pictures will happen.

Most of us will not stop you (or direct you) when you cut the cake but we WILL help you know where and how to stand during the portraits to get flattering angles. And many of us will leave in the unexpected funny face or photo bomber because those are moments and we love those too, along with the smiling faces.

Lifestyle photography means NO manipulation (or fixing) of you or the scene.
When it comes to lifestyle photography, this is one point that varies A LOT between photographers. Some will tell couples if they have food in their teeth, others won’t, some will PhotoShop it out later, and others like myself will tell them after I shoot a picture of it so they have both versions (and they can always be private online or deleted). Almost all of us will set up detail shots of your dress, shoes, the flowers, etc. but not everyone does this and some do it more naturally than others using only available light so this is a good question to ask if you are trying to choose the right wedding photojournalist for you.

Candid photography means no editing or retouching.
Great candid photographers do have stronger technical skills and can capture beautiful photos of moments as they happen but very few of us turn over our photos completely untouched. Even while working as a newspaper photographer, I was expected to crop the photo and fix any technical mistakes I made when I took the photo which could be something as simple as making it a little brighter or something more complex like getting rid of too much yellow because the light in the room photographed different from reality.

The key here is reality. True wedding photojournalism edits & retouches to make photos look a little better, but still like reality (so every wedding will look a little different). We typically love B&W and some of us will retouch blemishes, but always ask your photographer what they do and what they charge extra to do.


The original photo, above, and the special effects version (vintage effect), below are an example of how a portrait can look different but still have a photojournalism feel. If you like effects, be sure the photographer you choose can do them.

What to Expect from a Wedding Photojournalist

What matters most with wedding photojournalism is that the photographs tell a story and capture moments, experiences, and personalities. And are of course pretty to look at 😉

Don’t be surprised if we show up early, ask a lot of questions before your wedding day (so we are better prepared to anticipate the important moments) and want to get to know you a little before the big day either through meetings, portrait sessions, or Skype.

Whether you made all the centerpieces by hand, dance the night away, or cry through the wedding toasts, a great wedding photojournalist will photograph it all.

Heather graduated from Ohio University with a BS in Visual Communications and was VA Small Newspaper Photographer of the Year, multiple award winner from Virginia News Photographers Assoc., VPA, NPPA, and was accepted into the acclaimed Eddie Adams workshop. She has been published extensively in newspapers (Daily Press, St. Petersburg Times, People magazine), books (America 24/7, Virginia 24/7), and wedding publications and was named 2017 Top Wedding Vendor by Virginia Living magazine.

Voted the Knot’s “Best of Wedding Photographers” | WeddingWire’s “Couples Choice” Award 2008 - 2019 | Virginia Living Magazine's "Top Wedding Vendor" 2016- 2019 | VA Small Newspaper Photographer of the Year | Wedding Photojournalist Assoc. Blue Medallion Award