There is jargon in every industry that means something specific to the people in that industry but doesn’t necessarily resonate with an immediate meaning to the clients shopping for services in that industry.
As wedding photographers, we often used the words, documentary, photojournalism, editorial, reportage, classic, traditional, portrait, commercial, corporate, contemporary, modern, or vintage to describe our work. Some of them make more sense than others, but the words that are more confusing all harken back to styles used by media photographers with photojournalism and editorial being a little more likely to be thought of as the same.
What is editorial wedding photography and how is different from a wedding photojournalist? It is actually a very distinct difference that is easy to understand if you think of a traditional news or sports magazine. There would be articles that described news events with the images of the actual activities that were photographed as they were happening. A story about a war or basketball player dunking a basketball. This was the photojournalism. There could also be stories in that same magazine where images were used to illustrate a story that had been written. If you’ve ever seen the images of Michael Jordan dunking the sun, or a photograph of a political candidate looking the perfect amount of pensive for an article about their agenda. These are editorial photographs.
How does this translate into wedding photography? Well, a lot of it is about what is important to us as photographers and what we want to create. All wedding photographers wear many hats during the day. We all take landscape and architectural images to set the scene. We all take still life images of the decorations, flowers, and other cool stuff at a wedding. We all do portraits of some kind and we all take candid images of the wedding couple and guests as things happen during the day. How we differentiate ourselves from all the others is by creating styles that are unique to each of us and then trying to figure out how to tell our potential clients what makes our work different using words.
If a photographer claims to be a wedding photojournalist, they would do very little posing or manipulating the objects in photographs and try to capture images as events happen to show the story of the wedding. This is how I spend most of my day, but it is not the extent of what I do. Editorial wedding photography would be creating images to illustrate how great the wedding was. Placing a couple in the perfect field as the laugh, smile and kiss would be an editorial style. This is how I spend my time when I am photographing a couple’s portraits. Also, moving the rings to better light to photograph them, or setting up a flash to photograph the cake would also be more in the editorial style than photojournalism.
How is an editorial style different than a more traditional portrait? This one is fun to describe for me. A traditional portrait is about creating the perfect image with the perfect tilt of the head and the most aesthetically pleasing lines. An editorial style also wants perfection, but instead of technical perfection, it aspires to perfectly illustrate the point. With wedding photography, it would be to illustrate the love between the couple and the beauty of the event. To me, it is also about illustrating the real emotions even if the image has been set up.
I spend my day as a wedding photographer crossing the line between photojournalist and editorial photographer and back over and over. I love the real moments, and I love illustrating how beautiful the wedding is and how much the couple loves each other.