Are you Photo-Maker or Photo-Taker?
Whether or not you consider yourself to be a wedding photojournalist, there will be times when the job requires you to shoot a wedding using two different styles. The photojournalist, or photo-taker, shoots the occasion as is, without any modifications, whereas the photo maker takes partial control of the situation and influences the images via techniques such as posing, lighting, and arranging people. Whenever you interact with the people in front of your camera or alter the light in any way, you are shooting as a photo-maker. Although there are passionate feelings about both of these styles – and some argue for being a purist at one of them – I believe that being that experienced in both approaches will give you a greater chance of satisfying both your clients and their families.
For example, the couple might hire you because of your photojournalist skills, but the couple’s family may not really care what your style is or who you are. They simply want flattering portraits with their loved ones, and many of them might have traveled long distances to be included in those portraits. If you were to tell these respected guests that you won’t take modified portraits because you are a pure photojournalist, I don’t think that would go over very well. Therefore, you tell them to stand or sit together, you make adjustments, you place the group in a flattering light, and then you take their photographs. You have become a photo-maker for that portion of the wedding. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to never speak or interact with your clients in some way during an entire wedding. Therefore, being open-minded about both styles will serve you well, even if you learn much more toward one style than the other.
After all, is said and done, weddings require a photographer to photograph certain parts as a photo-maker and other parts as photo-taker. I switch between these two styles constantly throughout a wedding. You need both.