Wedding Planning 101
What to know before you meet with your dream wedding photographer!Read More
Wedding photojournalism is one of the different styles of photography that you’ll find when researching photographers for your big day. In addition to photojournalism, there’s the classic posed photographs that were more typical during your parents’ generation; the light and airy, almost blown-out look that’s very hot right now; and the darker, moodier aesthetic with contrast, shadows and lots of personality.
But wedding photojournalism is the style that has engaged brides for years and it isn’t going anywhere—with good reason. Wedding photographer Denis Reggie is the pioneer of this style and has changed the look of wedding albums forever. Often referred to as a celebrity photographer and “photographer to the Kennedys,” he’s the man behind the lens of one of the most iconic and recognizable wedding images ever—John F. Kennedy, Jr. kissing Carolyn Bessette’s hand as they left the tiny chapel on Cumberland Island, Georgia. Some of his other celebrity clients include Tory Burch, Vera Wang, Oprah Winfrey, Anne Barge, Kenneth Cole, James Taylor, Tommy Mattola, Paul Newman, Ted Turner, John Kerry and Mariah Carey.
But of his 1,900-plus wedding assignments, only a limited number have been for high-profile celebrity clients and over 99 percent of his wedding images are destined for the wedding album. Reggie caters to brides and grooms without consideration of any résumé—bookings are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for clients from every walk of life.
In addition to flying all around the world, he’s also photographed weddings in Peapack-Gladstone, Short Hills, Cherry Hill and Bergen and Essex counties. “I have loved my past wedding assignments in New Jersey over the years and always look for the opportunity to come back,” he says. “It’s a beautiful state.”
So we asked this avant-garde trailblazer to help explain exactly just what wedding photojournalism is. “Imagine having a wedding photographer who works like a reporter on a mission to find and capture the real story,” he answers. “Rather than direct, prompt and stage scenes, a wedding photojournalist is the quiet witness who anticipates and captures heartfelt moments just as they unfold. Most importantly, it means that brides and grooms can spend their big day relaxed and being themselves rather than posing like models and pretending for the camera.”
“The results are amazing because the photographs showcase the couple’s true personality and natural interactions, not corny, fictional poses of times past,” Reggie adds. “Like me, many believe that people look their best when they’re not aware of the camera. Wedding photojournalism is all about capturing and preserving a couple’s authentic spirit, not mimicking some photographer’s preconceived notion of how they should look. I never forget that the wedding album is Volume One of a newlyweds’ family history and what an important responsibility it is to them and to future generations.”
Not just any photographer can attempt this style and be successful. It takes a true professional who’s also an artist. “At a wedding, I make it my business to be everywhere, yet somehow nowhere to be seen,” Reggie says. “I spend my time searching for telling, tender and loving moments to capture without ever speaking. It’s those type of photographs that speak volumes about the bride and groom and their love.”
A wedding photojournalist can also be thought of as an event historian, commemorating your day with carefully selected shots—all without you realizing they’re even happening. “I never ask the bride and groom to pretend to be something other than who they are,” Reggie says. “Just forgetting the camera and enjoying each other means that I will have all that I need to find amazing moments. I am one of those quiet-types who doesn’t see his mission as leading the whole day. Sure, I rise to the occasion for gathering and arranging needed group photographs, but otherwise I head to the shadows in stealth mode for the majority of the day, which allows me to remain nearly hidden. Camera awareness is my enemy to getting wonderful wedding photographs.”
So how can you find a photographer who will be able to capture the heart of your event and get such great, intimate photojournalistic shots? The first step is to look at their work. And not just one shot from one wedding. Look at many different events they’ve photographed and see if there are a number of “great” shots in each album. A photographer can get lucky with one great shot—but to see a variety of great shots repeated over and over is the sign of a professional.
“Ask recent brides and grooms and trusted wedding professionals for input in building your short list,” adds Reggie. “Loving a portfolio is very important, but meeting—even by video chat—is a nice way to confirm a connection and personality compatibility. As professionals, we dress like your wedding guests—often in suits and tie or black tie when appropriate—so as to blend in to the crowd and to be appropriate. I cringe hearing about photographers being the only persons in the room without a jacket. Weddings deserve professionalism, and proper attire is part of that mission.”
As for those “can’t live without shots,” Reggie loves the moments that express love and emotion. “I do love behind-the-scenes photography during preparations, and that moment when a parent—and, a little later, the groom—sees the bride in her gown when she is being escorted up the aisle for the first time. I enjoy the expressions of jubilant newlyweds as they head for the door arm-in-arm just as their ceremony ends. I also look for quiet glances between the couple—eyes have so much to say without words.”